A report released last week by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) brought to light the dire state of family planning funding in the United States, made worse in recent years by anti-choice legislation and restrictive budget proposals. According to the report, publicly funded family planning services have declined in 27 states and the District of Columbia over the past decade, forcing clinics to turn away four in 10 women in need of subsidized contraception.
As a result of the efforts of anti-choice legislators to weaken Title X of the Public Health Service Act, which provides a range of reproductive health services for women and men who are at or below the poverty level, many of the unmet family planning needs of low-income women have fallen upon Medicaid. The report states that Medicaid currently accounts for nearly two-thirds of all family planning funding on the federal and state levels nationwide. However, the budget presented by President Bush last month proposes a drastic cut to Medicaid, further endangering the access of millions of Americans to women’s health services, according to AGI.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) recently sponsored the Prevention First bill to increase funding for multiple family planning services in an effort to reduce unintended pregnancies in the United States. The bill would more than double federal funding for family planning services, require private health plans to cover prescription contraceptive, promote the use of emergency contraception in hospitals for the treatment of rape victims, and require abstinence-only education to provide accurate information about contraceptives. However, the bill has “been met with deafening silence” by anti-choice by Republican leaders, a spokesperson for Reid told the Associated Press.