By ANA RAMIREZ
Planned Parenthood and other family planning centers are preparing for major budget cuts after the U.S. House of Representatives voted Feb. 18 to slash federal funding for Title X organizations.
President Richard Nixon signed Title X of the Public Service Act in 1970.
The law was designed to help low-income women gain access to family planning services because they had higher rates of unwanted pregnancies than prosperous women, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based reproductive health research center.
“This program has empowered so many women and families for the last 40 years, giving them an opportunity to build their lives,” Michelle Steinberg, Arizona Planned Parenthood policy manager, said in a phone interview.
The House vote would cut about $330 million through the end of September for preventive-health services, including federal funding for contraception and cancer screenings, at Planned Parenthood clinics across the country.
Congressmen must still vote for final passage of an overall spending bill before the proposal heads to the Senate for a possible vote later this month.
Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., proposed the funding cuts.
“If Planned Parenthood wants to be involved in providing counseling services and HIV testing, they ought not be in the business of providing abortions,” Pence told POLITICO in a Feb. 15 interview. “As long as they aspire to do that, I’ll be after them.”
While some people agree with Pence, others are baffled by his reasoning.
“Mike Pence can say that, but what does one have to do with the other?” Steinberg asked.
The 1976 Hyde Amendment already forbids federal funds from being used for abortions, she noted.
Steinberg said decreased funding will not affect the services that Planned Parenthood and other family planning clinics offer. “We would continue doing what we do,” she said.
However, women who receive Title X help would have to pay out of pocket.
“This is hurting the women who are depending on Planned Parenthood for care,” Steinberg said. “This is affecting low-income women.”
Planned Parenthood receives about 5 percent of its budget from federal funds. It receives the rest in donations from private contributors and from other funding.
More than 39,000 Arizona women received prophylactic care (condoms or birth control) from Title X-supported centers in 2009, according to Guttmacher Institute.
Arizona has 15 Planned Parenthood clinics, which provided more than 76,000 patients with care in 2009, according to an annual report. Planned Parenthood of Southern Arizona operates three centers in Tucson.
In Arizona, Planned Parenthood said abortion represents 3 percent of its services. It spends 35 percent of its efforts on contraception, 34 percent on testing for sexually transmitted diseases, 17 percent on cancer screening and 10 percent on other women’s health services.
Steinberg said low-income women will suffer without access to family planning facilities. “The inevitable result is an increase in unplanned pregnancy, STD’s and, even scarier, cancer,” she said.
She said all women suffer when congressmen like Pence and Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., advance their political agendas.
“They’re trying to attack Planned Parenthood but they’re using American women,” Steinberg said. “They’re hurting all of us.”
Planned Parenthood of Southern Arizona
Address: 2255 N. Wyatt Drive, Tucson
Websites: plannedparenthood.org, ppaz.org
Archer Health Center
1665 S. La Cholla Blvd.
Jean Hoffman Health Center
529 W. Wetmore Road
Margaret Sanger Health Center
2255 N. Wyatt Drive