By Brian Dixon, Senior Vice President
Earlier today, House Republicans voted to eliminate family planning aid for low-income Americans. The Title X (ten) program has helped nearly 5 million women get affordable birth control and basic reproductive health services like screenings for sexually transmitted infections.
We wish we were surprised, but this is part of a pattern. A few weeks ago they approved a bill to cripple family planning programs in the developing world. At that time, they slashed funding by 25 percent, barring aid to the United Nations Population Fund and imposing the Global Gag Rule. These actions will deny hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable women in the world the contraceptives they need and undermine decades of progress in reducing unintended pregnancy, improving maternal health and expanding women’s opportunity. During the debate, the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee defended the actions by claiming that it was a “low priority.”
Today was more of the same idiocy. Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) offered an amendment to restore the funding to the crucial – and only – dedicated family planning program for Americans. Not a single Republican on the committee supported it. Not. A. Single. One.
Indeed, only the author of the bill even spoke out to defend the cut – because it is utterly indefensible.
Soon after the defeat of the Lowey Amendment, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) offered an amendment to restore funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, a program that provides young people with accurate, complete and responsible sex education. Combined with increased access to more effective methods of contraceptives, this has been credited with bringing the teen pregnancy rate to its lowest level ever. To the GOP, that means it must die.
They did, however, make certain to preserve funding for discredited abstinence-only programs. So there’s that.
But they weren’t done yet. They also voted to allow bosses in DC to discriminate against workers based on the reproductive health choices those workers make and they voted to allow any boss anywhere to avoid including any health coverage to which they object. The obvious target is the birth control benefit in the Affordable Care Act.
It was a good day for right-wing ideologues, but a bad day for America.