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Stop attack on poor, working women

Defend Title X family planning funding!


Published Feb 24, 2011 9:43 PM

Will cutting $283 million from the federal budget help solve the $1.4 trillion deficit?


However, that’s what the Republicans in the House of Representatives would have the public believe. They have put Title X, the National Family Planning Program, which cost $283 million in 2007, on the chopping block in the 2011 federal budget as a key component of their austerity plan.

Does that make fiscal sense? Not if you consider that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls family planning one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. Not only has it helped advance the social and economic status of women while preventing unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, and decreasing infant, child and maternal deaths.

But Title X, which President Richard Nixon signed in 1970 as part of progressive legislation inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, has also saved taxpayers billions of dollars ever since!

Title X serves 5 million poor women, 70 percent of whose income is below the poverty line. These women are disproportionately women of color — 20 percent are Black and 28 percent are Latina. That makes this attack both sexist and racist.

But there’s more. Cutting Title X will affect women at every stage of life. It will eliminate funding for prenatal care, nutrition programs for pregnant women and their children, and Head Start and childcare for 368,000 children. It will cut the Women’s Educational Equity Program, which helps schools comply with Title IX (sports equality), Pell grants for college students and Social Security support for elderly women.

Chopping Title X is not about deficit reduction — just as denying collective bargaining rights for public sector workers in Wisconsin and other states isn’t. Destroying Title X is about advancing the right wing’s thoroughly racist, anti-woman and anti-children, anti-reproductive rights, anti-poor, anti-working class agenda.

It is a narrow-minded, heartless, life-threatening, discriminatory, totally reactionary assault on poor and working women. It is profoundly anti-life for all working and oppressed people.

Attack on Planned Parenthood

The House took that even further on Feb. 18, when it passed the “Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition” amendment by 240 to 185, which eliminates all funding for Planned Parenthood, the largest private provider of health care services for women in the U.S.

Though more than 90 percent of Planned Parenthood’s health care services for 3 million women were preventive in 2010 and the organization has received no federal funding for abortion since 1976, amendment sponsor Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) called it a “victory for life” because he doesn’t want taxpayers’ money to be used to “subsidize the largest abortion provider in [North] America.”

Is defunding Planned Parenthood a victory for women?

Not if Planned Parenthood will no longer be able to serve 1.4 million Medicaid patients who use its health centers as their primary preventive health care provider. Not if Planned Parenthood will have to curtail family planning and many types of reproductive and other health services for millions of women.

It’s only a victory for Pence, other reactionary legislators and right-wing Tea Party demagogues like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, who, in pursuit of “small government” and “pro-life” hypocrisy, seek to destroy all legislation that benefits poor and working people and their families.

In response, many women’s and legal groups and the “liberal” flank of the Democratic Party are rallying to defend Title X and Planned Parenthood. The National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority, the National Women’s Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood have all flooded supporters with educational e-mails and petitions.

Planned Parenthood of New York City has called a Stand Up for Women’s Health Rally on Feb. 26 at Foley Square at 1 p.m.

Statistics came from the National Organization for Women, the National Women’s Law Center and Planned Parenthood e-mails sent out the week of Feb. 14.