What will become of Title X?
At this point, we know that the conservatives in Congress and the administration’s agenda is to attack and undermine sexual and reproductive health and rights. Now they are reaching beyond abortion and going after family planning and contraception. Some have suggested drastically undermining or outright eliminating the Title X Family Planning Program by directing all current funding to Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) sites.
This is not entirely new. Since 2011, the program has been a target by conservatives in the House, and Congress has cut funding to Title X by 10% since 2010, even as need for the family planning services Title X supports has increased by 5% over the same period.
In 2015, publicly funded contraceptive services helped women avoid 1.3 million unintended pregnancies Without publicly funded family planning, rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion would have been 67% higher. These programs are important for taxpayers because they are saving the federal and state governments billions each year.
Recently, those opposed to women’s health have focused their attention on Planned Parenthood, a vital safety-net family planning provider, who sees millions of Medicaid patients each year.
Conservatives believe that Title X funds should go only to entities offering primary care, excluding the very providers often best able to provide high-quality family planning and related services to large numbers of people, like Planned Parenthood. Louisiana passed a law in 2016 that allows the state’s Medicaid program to exclude any provider that receives any type of public funding and also provides abortion, or is affiliated with a provider that does so. Basically, they wanted to pressure Planned Parenthood to not provide abortions in the state, which they currently are not licensed to do.
But these restrictions go against medical standards, and reject federal regulations of the Title X program that explicitly require participating sites to offer nondirective pregnancy-options counseling and referral for all options, including abortion.
At stake is the health of millions of low-income, young, immigrant and other underserved people who rely on these programs and providers for affordable contraceptive and related care.
Every week we get more evidence that these lawmakers care nothing about women’s health. If they did they would focus on implementing policies that will advance access to high-quality reproductive health care. They would be adequately funding Title X and give up on this misguided effort to cut Planned Parenthood patients off from benefiting from publicly funded programs.
Frost JJ, Frohwirth LF, Blades N, Zolna MR, Douglas-Hall A, Bearak J. Publicly funded contraceptive services at US clinics, 2015. Guttmacher Institute. 2017. Available at: https://www.guttmacher.org/report/publicly-funded-contraceptive-services-us-clinics-2015. Accessed Nov. 10 2017
Hasstedt, Kinsey. Recent Funding Restrictions on the U.S. Family Planning Safety Net May Foreshadow What Is to Come. Guttmacher Institute 2016. Available at: https://www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2016/12/recent-funding-restrictions-us-family-planning-safety-net-may-foreshadow-what-come. Accessed Nov. 10 2017