House Bill Would Decimate Women's Health Care in Cities and Rural Areas, Governors and Mayor Say

Wednesday, 23 February 2011 10:33 By Jodi Jacobson, RH Reality Check | Report | name.

In a conference call today, the Governors of Connecticut and Vermont and the Mayor of New York City described the devastating effects the GOP's cuts to Title X  and Planned Parenthood would have on women in their states as well as on the fiscal health of their region.

Juxtaposing the needs of women in one of the nation's largest cities (New York City) and in Vermont, one of the nation's most rural states, the Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg and the Governor of Vermont, Peter Shumlin spoke today about how cuts to both Title X and to Planned Parenthood would undermine the health of the populations they represent. Each of their concerns were echoed by Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy.

Last week, the GOP/Tea-Party-dominated House of Representatives passed both a Continuing Resolution (CR) that effectively eliminates funding for Title X programs, and the Pence Amendment to the CR that specifically targets Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), prohibiting federal funding of preventive health care services provided by the organization.

Over 90 percent of services provided by Planned Parenthood clinics are made up of preventive care, including breast and cervical exams, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, and contraceptive supplies. PPFA clinics serve more than 5 million clients across the country each year. If the House budget and the Pence Amendment are passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Obama, literally millions of women and men will lose their only source of health care.

"[Cuts to] Title X and the Pence are not about fiscal responsibility or cutting the U.S. budget," said Mayor Bloomberg. "These cuts are purely about politics. And they will have serious consequences for women's health care across New York City and the nation."

In fact, rather than reducing government spending or the deficit, both governors and the mayor underscored the dramatically increased financial burdens that would arise from cutting preventive care, which in turn means more and more expensive illness down the road.

More than 8 million people live in New York City, for example; more than half [20] the population is 25 years of age or younger. And over 15 percent of the population lives at or below the poverty level. Planned Parenthood provides access to essential preventive care to more than 50,000 residents of New York City each year, conducting more than 79,900 tests for sexually transmitted infections (including HIV), 12,000 life-saving cervical cancer screenings, and 56,000 contraceptive visits.

"These clinics are often the only place where poor and working women can see someone for care," said Bloomberg.

Moreover, he noted, increased access to contraceptives has reduced the rate of abortion in New York City in the last decade. "Our numbers are going in the right direction," Bloomberg stated. But, he continued:

"If you want to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions, cutting funds to Planned Parenthood is not the way. It would take us in the other direction, and it would cost us money. Everyone is talking about how the government is spending too much money, but cutting [preventive care provided by Planned Parenthood] will cost more money and lead to more unintended pregnancies and abortions."

Bloomberg also noted that the loss of funding for family planning services and the consequent increase in unintended pregnancies would adversely affect both infants and small children because without access to contraception, more women will have "more unintended pregnancies, more closely spaced," which is harmful for both mother and infant.

Governor Shumlin raised deep concerns about the effects these cuts would have on rural women in his state which is, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, "atypically rural." Planned Parenthood of Northern New England sees more than 19,500 patients each year, and provides more than 24,700 STI tests (including HIV tests), 5,500 cervical cancer screenings, 9,600 breast exams and 17,000 contraceptive visits.

"Here in Vermont, cutting Title X money would be devastating," warned Shumlin. "In a small rural state like Vermont, Planned Parenthood clinics oftentimes are the only source of health care [rural] low-income women get and the only access they have to critical health care, not only to avoid unintended pregnancies but for general health care."

"This is more about politics than policy," Shumlin stated.

Connecticut Governor Malloy said he'd written to Connecticut's congressional delegation, urging them to "come to their senses" when it comes to cuts to programs such as Title X and funding for Planned Parenthood." Planned Parenthood of Southern New England sees more than 62,300 patients each year, providing more than 90,400 STI tests (including HIV tests), 16,700 lifesaving cervical cancer screenings, 5,200 breast exams and 55,300 contraceptive visits

Shumlin and Bloomberg also stated they'd written to both their delegations and to House leadership.

Eliminating these funds would, they all agreed, increase rates of undiagnosed and untreated cervical and breast cancer, leading to increased deaths among women, higher rates of infections, and higher rates of unintended pregnancies and abortions.

"We have a choice," Shumlin concluded. "We can play politics and cut off our nose to spite our face, or we can do the right thing and fund Planned Parenthood." 

Last modified on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 11:01