National Partnership for Women & Families

Progress Tinged with Disappointments: Reproductive Health Leader Says Obama Budget Fails to Fully Prioritize Women's Health

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
Washington, D.C. — May 7, 2009 —
"Today was the Obama Administration’s first chance to put dollars behind its priorities and, in terms of women’s health, the President’s budget proposal merits mixed reviews. 

We applaud the Administration’s decision to allow states to make family planning services available to individuals with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level.  However, it is unfortunate that the budget misses an opportunity to significantly increase investments in the Title X family planning program, a key component of our public health care safety net.

We are pleased that this President will no longer fund abstinence-only programs and instead wants to channel federal dollars into teen pregnancy prevention — although it appears he would allow some of these funds to go to community- and faith-based programs that use the discredited abstinence-only approach. 

International programs fare well in the President’s budget proposal; we strongly urge Congress to appropriate the $46 million increase for international family planning that President Obama requests.

But the Obama budget contains a huge disappointment in that the Administration proposes to continue bans on abortion for virtually all women who rely on the federal government for their health care.  This means federal employees, women covered by Medicaid, Peace Corps volunteers and women in prison will not have coverage for abortion services.  The Clinton Administration took a principled stand that abortion care should be covered and paid for in the same way as other health services.  We urge the Obama Administration to recognize abortion care as a vital medical service for women, and do the same.

The rightwing has worked hard to convince President Obama that he must compromise on women’s health if there is to be bipartisan dialogue in this country.  We hoped the new Administration would reject that absurd notion, and end the days when our government played politics with women’s lives."

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at

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