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House GOP: End Health Care for Five Million Women to Stop "Big Abortion"

June 19, 2015

"It is my view that no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition." So said President Richard Nixon after signing Title X of the Public Service Health Act of 1970. That vitally important and very successful federal program which now helps fund cancer screening, STD tests, contraception and other health care services for nearly five million low income American women. But now, House Republicans want to kill Title X entirely because they want to stop what current Indiana Governor and former Congressman Mike Pence called "Big Abortion."
As Huffington Post reported Tuesday:

The House Appropriations Labor-HHS Subcommittee released a budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016 on Tuesday that zeroes out funding for the Title X family planning program, the only federal grant program that provides contraceptive and other preventive health services to poor and uninsured individuals who would otherwise lack access to that kind of care. The program subsidizes 4,100 health clinics nationwide and provides no- or low-cost family planning services to individuals who earn less than about $25,000 a year. The largest demographic the program serves is reproductive-aged women between 20 and 29 years old.

This isn't the first time Republican leaders have tried to terminate Title X. In 2012, the GOP's presidential nominee Mitt Romney called for its end, in part as a way to stop all federal funding for Title X grant recipient, Planned Parenthood. (Ironically, Ann and Mitt Romney attended a Planned Parenthood fundraising event during his 1994 run for Massachusetts Senate, even writing a $150 check to the organization.) Mike Pence, who led the GOP's failed 2011 effort to defund Planned Parenthood, explained why Title X had to be zeroed out. In a National Review screed titled, "Battling Big Abortion," the darling of social conservatives charged:

If the Pence Amendment becomes law, thousands of women's health centers, clinics, and hospitals will still provide assistance to low-income families and women. The Pence Amendment would simply deny any and all federal funding to Planned Parenthood...
Advocates for the abortion industry have sought to portray efforts to defund Planned Parenthood as a "War on Women," but the issue is big business, and that business is abortion. This legislative battle is about Big Abortion vs. American taxpayers...
And Big Abortion routinely puts profits over women's health and safety.

Absent, of course, from Pence's assault on Planned Parenthood were the numbers that debunked his fraudulent charges. As the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus explained in February, Pence's amendment zeroed out $317 million in funding for Title X, a program signed into law in 1970 by Richard Nixon, who proclaimed that "no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition."

Title X clinics serve more than 5 million women annually, the vast majority of them low-income.
The Guttmacher Institute has estimated that Title X helps prevent nearly 1 million unintended pregnancies annually. The institute says these pregnancies would otherwise result in 433,000 unintended births and 406,000 abortions.
The inevitable result of eliminating Title X funding would not only be more abortions - it would also be higher bills for taxpayers footing Medicaid and welfare costs for poor children. Guttmacher found that every public dollar invested in family planning care saves $3.74 in Medicaid expenditures for pregnant women and their babies during the first year of care. Imagine the lifetime savings.
And then there is the other "important work" that Pence cited: 2.2 million Pap smears, 2.3 million breast exams, nearly 6 million tests for sexually transmitted infections.

The conservative crusade against Title X doesn't just pose a grave threat to the health of millions of American women. As Texas found out in 2012 when it sought to eliminate its own funding for Planned Parenthood, the budgetary math is as horrible as it morality. As the Guttmacher Institute warned, the cost of caring for thousands of additional babies would cost three times more than the money saved. And that's not all:

The public investment in family planning programs and providers not only helps women and couples avoid unintended pregnancy and abortion, but also helps many thousands avoid cervical cancer, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, infertility, and preterm and low birth weight births.
This investment resulted in net government savings of $13.6 billion in 2010, or $7.09 for every public dollar spent.

So why would supposedly tight-spending Republicans want to choke off the Uncle Sam's high return on investment in Title X? As former the GOP's former number two man in the Senate Jon Kyl (R-AZ) wrongly explained, it's because "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does" is related to abortion." Of course, when his 30-fold error was pointed out, Kyl's office protested his lie was "not intended to be a factual statement." Alas, neither is any other statement Republicans make about Title X. Jeopardizing the health of five million women is just the collateral damage in the GOP's war on "Big Abortion."


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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