February 23, 2011 — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) on Tuesday said that House-approved funding cuts for the Title X family planning program and Planned Parenthood would harm low-income women and might increase the number of abortions, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
The House on Saturday passed a continuing budget resolution (HR 1) to fund the federal government through the end of the current fiscal year. The measure eliminates Title X -- a federal program that helps provide family planning and reproductive health services to low-income women, including contraceptive counseling and supplies, pelvic and breast exams, safer-sex counseling and basic infertility counseling. No Title X funds can be used to provide abortion services. As part of the continuing resolution, the House approved an amendment by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) that would block Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 2/22).
Bloomberg and the governors criticized the cuts during a press briefing Tuesday with Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards. Bloomberg said, "In fact, these proposals would result in more abortions as these women would be left without access to contraception to prevent pregnancy," adding that Planned Parenthood clinics fill a crucial public health role. "Its clinics are often the only place poor and working women with limited incomes can see a gynecologist to have an annual Pap smear, to have breast exams, or to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases," Bloomberg said (Walker, MedPage Today, 2/22).
Malloy said that the House continuing resolution would have "very negative consequences." He added, "I can only imagine that this is a politically motivated vote having nothing to do with public health, having nothing to do with the welfare of children or of women."
Shumlin said, "Cutting Title X money would be devastating for Vermont women." According to Shumlin, "In a small, rural state like Vermont, often times this is the only health care that they get."
Richards said, "Many people don't realize that more than 90% of our health services are preventive in nature" ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 2/22). Referring to the Pence amendment, she said that the organization and other abortion rights supporters are "working very hard to make sure this sort of extreme measure doesn't pass the Senate" (MedPage Today, 2/22). President Obama has said he would veto the spending bill if it passes the Senate (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 2/22).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.