By Jonathan Strausberg, Senior Development Manager
As I write this, Congress and the President are in a budget showdown and it seems increasingly likely that there will be a government shutdown- they have until Friday to make a deal. Everyone is trying to cut the federal budget by billions of dollars and it seems like everything is on the chopping block. One particular item has been getting a lot of attention lately and that is Title X, which covers women’s reproductive health.
In case you’re not familiar with this part of the Federal budget, here is a bit that I lifted from the Department of Health and Human Services (which administers the funding):
The Title X Family Planning program (Population Research and Voluntary Family Planning Programs), was enacted in 1970 as Title X of the Public Health Service Act. Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. The Title X program is designed to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies and information to all who want and need them. By law, priority is given to persons from low-income families.
The Title X Family Planning program is administered within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of Population Affairs by the Office of Family Planning. In fiscal year 2010, Congress appropriated approximately $317,491 million for family planning activities supported under Title X. At least 90 percent of the appropriation is used for clinical family planning services as described in the statute and regulations.
Of the $33 billion that folks are talking about cutting this is less than 1%, so what’s the big deal, right?
Well the big deal is that Title X provides essential health care to women including not only reproductive care, but also health care education, cancer screenings, STD and HIV education, prevention and screening, and much more. Title X does not fund abortions. It provides care to more than 5 million, mostly low income Americans, which is $63 per person served by the funded programs. Why do I care though? I’m not a woman, I’m not low income, nor am I served by any of the Title X programs.
Title X is important to me, because it does affect me. There may come a time in the lives of one of the women I care about, my wife, mother, or sister when they may benefit from the education that Title X provides. More than that though, I believe that every American deserves access to health care. If we are the greatest country in the world, what does it say when we don’t care for those most in need and help plan for our collective future. Those attacking Title X are using it as a backdoor approach to preventing a woman’s right to choose; to them this isn’t about money, it’s about social issues and allowing our government to interfere with the most private and personal decisions are person can make. Finally, I care because this is my money! I pay taxes and I care how that money is spent. We spend so much money on unnecessary or duplicative programs that are pet projects and often not even wanted, but for something that matters like a woman’s health we’re not willing to accept that cost? There’s a problem with that and that’s why I care.