“Apparently, Congress has a motto — if it ain’t broke, nix it.” - Cecile Richards

WASHINGTON, DC  Teen pregnancy and birth rates are at a historic 40-year low, thanks, in part, to increased investment in evidence-based sex education programs and access to birth control. Yet today the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies joined their House colleagues in a race to the bottom on women’s healthissuing a 2016 fiscal year funding proposal that would dramatically reduce the nation’s family planning program, as well as gut funding for teen pregnancy prevention and sex education programswhile increasing funding for ineffective abstinence-only programs by 300 percent. This follows similar cuts in the House version of the bill last week; with both the House and Senate versions heading to full committee later this week.

Statement from Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“Apparently, Congress has a motto — if it ain’t broke, nix it. We’re finally making historic progress toward reducing the rate of teen pregnancy, and ensuring all women — regardless of where they live or how much money they make — have access to the basic preventive health care they need. And then Congress tries to take an axe to the very programs we know are effective. 

“Like their allies in the House, Senate leadership is making these cuts on the backs of the country’s most vulnerable  — women, men, and young people who rely on this safety net, and have nowhere else to turn. To add insult to injury, Congress then turns around and pumps money into the abstinence-only programs we know don’t work. 

“When Congress tried to shut down the nation's family planning program in 2011, Americans were outraged. The American public overwhelmingly opposes taking away women's health care and shutting down sex education programs. This isn't a fight Congress wants to have again, but it's one that the women of America will fight and win."

Since last Tuesday, more than 34,000 Planned Parenthood supporters have taken action, contacting their members of Congress and telling them not to cut funding for family planning. Eighty-one percent of American voters favor continuing federal government efforts to help women who can’t afford it get access to birth control.

Last week the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies issued a 2016 fiscal year funding proposal that would eliminate the nation’s family planning program, leaving nearly 4.6 million people without access to the preventive health care — including family planning services, well-woman exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatments for sexually transmitted infections — they currently rely on. That bill would also  decimate funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative’s sex education programs.

BACKGROUND

The Senate budget proposal guts the very programs that have been working, including family planning funding, evidence-based sex education, and preventive health care for those who have nowhere else to turn:  

  • Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP). The bill cuts this program by $81 million, or 80 percent.  Well-designed and well-implemented sex education programs — the type of education provided by Planned Parenthood through the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI) — can decrease sexual risk behaviors among teens, including delaying sexual intercourse, increasing condom and birth control use, and reducing the number of sexual partners and frequency of sex. At the same time, the bill increases funding for abstinence-only programs – which have been shown to be ineffective and frequently medically inaccurate – from $5 million to $20 million, a 300 percent increase.

  • Family Planning. The bill cuts funding for the nation’s family planning program (Title X) by 10 percent or $29 million, to $258 million.  It is estimated that cut would deny comprehensive family planning and preventive health services to 430,000 people and would increase the estimated number of unintended pregnancies by over 82,000 next year.

  • Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill includes new language to prohibit HHS from spending any of the funding in this bill to support State Based Marketplaces.  This rider is in addition to the bill’s elimination of all ACA-related funding, and would affect access to care for millions of Americans.

The nation’s family planning program offers preventive health care services to those most in need.

  • Ninety percent of the people our nation’s family planning program serves have incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and 63 percent are uninsured.

  • In fact, 6 in 10 women who access care from a family planning health center consider it their main source of health care.

The nation’s family planning program works.

  • Through birth control and contraceptive counseling, the national family planning program has helped to prevent 1.1 million unintended pregnancies each year.

  • In 2013 alone, the national family planning program enabled health centers to provide 1 million Pap tests, breast exams to 1.6 million women, 2.6 million lifesaving cancer screenings, and 6.8 million tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including 1.2 million HIV tests.  

  • Planned Parenthood is a proud partner of the nation’s family planning program. Planned Parenthood health centers provide preventive care to approximately 1.5 million women served by the nation’s family planning program — roughly one-third of the program’s clients overall.

  • Without the services provided by publicly funded family planning, the U.S. rates of unintended pregnancy, unplanned births, and abortions would be 66 percent higher.

Chipping away at these programs has an impact

  • As a result of funding reductions in the nation’s family planning program between FY2010 and FY2013, 667,000 patients were lost from the program without indication that they sought care from other health care providers.

Investing in family planning is good for women’s health and for the economy.

  • For every public dollar invested in family planning, approximately seven are saved in Medicaid-related costs.

  • In 2010, the government saved $13.6 billion as a result of family planning services investment.

Americans want to see this program funded.

  • Eighty-one percent of American votersfavor continuing federal government efforts to help women who can’t afford it get access to birth control.

  • Since last Tuesday, more than 34,000 Planned Parenthood supporterstook action, contacting their members of Congress and telling them not to cut funding for family planning.

  • When Congress tried to eliminate the nation’s family planning program back in 2011, there was an incredible outpouring from the American public. People don’t want Congress to take health care away from millions of people, or to walk away from the historic progress we’re making in reducing teen pregnancy.

Evidence-based sex education works — and has helped us make historic progress toward reducing the teen pregnancy rate.

  • Thanks to increased access to contraception and comprehensive sex education, teen pregnancy rates are at a 40-year low. Not only that, but more young people are delaying sexual activity, and using birth control when they do have sex.

  • Well-designed and well-implemented sex education programs — the type of education provided by Planned Parenthood through the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI) — can decrease sexual risk behaviors among teens, including delaying sexual intercourse, increasing condom and birth control use, and reducing the number of sexual partners and frequency of sex.

  • Research has found that teens who report receiving more comprehensive approaches to sex education are 50 percent less likely to experience an unintended pregnancy.

Abstinence-only programs don’t work.

  • There is no evidence to date that abstinence-only programs delay teen sexual activity. Moreover, research shows that abstinence-only programs may deter contraceptive use among sexually active teens, increasing their risk of unintended pregnancy and STIs.

Americans want evidence-based sex education and prevention programs.

  • Sex education is supported by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics — and by a majority of Americans, including more than 90 percent of both parents and teens.