Senate Appropriations Committee Restores Affordable Birth Control and Cuts Funding to Dangerous Abstinence-Only Programs; House Version Awaits Vote
WASHINGTON, DC — Yesterday, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) praised members of the Senate Appropriations Committee who stood up for women’s health care by voting to restore affordable birth control. The Senate bill also denounced abstinence-only education by voting for a decrease in Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) programs in the FY2009 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill.
“Planned Parenthood applauds the Senate Appropriations Committee for using this bill to approve commonsense preventive health measures,” said PPFA President Cecile Richards. “The president sought to increase funding for programs that don’t work, and today the Senate took a step in the right direction. The Senate also took this opportunity to vote for affordable health care that will reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and acknowledged the failures of abstinence-only education.”
The Senate’s Appropriations bill includes language that would restore affordable birth control for low-income women and college students. This legislative fix is necessary to correct a mistake made in law that has placed the price of birth control out of reach for millions of women. Yesterday’s Senate action will once again make it possible for college health clinics and safety-net providers to purchase birth control at low prices in order to pass along the savings to the college students and low-income women who rely on them.
The Senate bill also includes a $28 million cut for the CBAE program in response to President Bush’s request for a $28 million increase in the program’s funding.
The Senate’s decision to cut CBAE funding is positive news for America’s teens. Recent studies, including a congressional study, have found that abstinence-only programs don’t work and don’t delay initiation of sex. A recent study by the University of Washington found that teens who have comprehensive sex education are less likely to become pregnant than those who have abstinence-only education or no sex education. Federal funding should be directed toward comprehensive sex education programs that will keep teens healthy — by including information about abstinence as well as contraception, healthy communication, responsible decision making, and prevention of sexually transmitted infections.
While the Senate’s Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill is good news for medically accurate sex education, it does not increase Title X funding. The Senate Committee voted to flat-fund the program at $300 million, despite women’s health groups’ urging a $100 million increase to the program. Had it kept up with the cost of inflation, Title X would now be funded at more than $750 million.
“More than 17 million low-income women in the U.S. need subsidized family planning services, and there is simply not enough funding to meet the need,” said Richards. “The best way to prevent unintended pregnancies and promote healthy families is to invest in family planning programs like Title X, and ensure more women and families have access to reproductive health care.”
The Title X family planning program provides funding for family planning and reproductive health services for low-income women and men. The money is used for contraceptive services, breast and cervical cancer screenings, sexually transmitted infection and HIV prevention, testing, and education, and related counseling services.
The House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee passed a version of the bill last week that provides $315 million for the Title X family planning program. This is a $15 million increase above the FY2008 funding level and the president’s budget request. The House bill provides flat-funding for CBAE programs. Markup of the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill was scheduled for yesterday, but was unexpectedly delayed. The House Appropriations Committee will likely take up the bill again after next week’s recess.
President Bush has indicated that he will oppose any funding bill that exceeds his requests which fall far below the need for important health and education programs like Title X.
“We are confident that once the House Committee passes the bill and the funding numbers are reconciled between the two chambers, Congress will continue to recognize the importance of prevention methods and sustain each chamber’s critical funding decisions,” said Richards.
Every year, Planned Parenthood provides millions of women, men and teens with health care information and services. For more information about Planned Parenthood's Prevention First agenda, visit www.plannedparenthood.org.
May 14, 2014