Family Planning cuts would hurt Blacks

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Last week, the House of Representatives voted on a series of amendments to President Barack Obama’s proposed 2011 budget. Among the amendments approved in the House was a $317 million cut in Title X family planning funds used by healthcare providers such as Planned Parenthood and Adagio Health in Western Pennsylvania.

“The Title X family planning program enables 5 million women to access primary and preventive health care, including cancer screening and STD testing and treatment. Medical clinics that are funded through Title X now prevent nearly a million unintended pregnancies every year. They save women’s lives through cancer screening, immunization and blood-pressure testing,” said Linda Mitchell, associate director of communications, Adagio Health. “In Pennsylvania, the impact of Title X is significant—Title X—supported centers provide care to 302,000 women in PA annually.”

The amendment was passed by a vote of 240 to 185 and is now up for debate in the Senate. Under this legislation approximately 16,000 African-American women, men, and teens in western Pennsylvania would lose access to affordable reproductive health care.

The republican sponsored amendment is aimed at reducing abortions across the country by defunding clinics where abortions are performed. The legislation’s sponsor Mike Pence, a congressman out of Indiana, is a pro-life advocate.

“This afternoon’s vote is a victory for taxpayers and a victory for life. By banning federal funding to Planned Parenthood, Congress has taken a stand for millions of Americans who believe their tax dollars should not be used to subsidize the largest abortion provider in America,” Pence said in a press release issued after the vote. “I commend my colleagues in both parties for taking a stand for taxpayers and a stand for life. I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to support this legislation and end federal funding of Planned Parenthood once and for all.”

However, under the Hyde Amendment, passed by Congress in 1976, federal funding cannot be used to pay for abortions. Still, many clinics receiving Title X funding perform abortions and Pence believes taxpayer dollars should not be used to support abortion providers in any way.

“Family planning care is not the same as abortion—no Title X dollars are ever used for abortion services, and in fact, the Guttmacher Institute estimates that in PA without Title X-funded health centers, the abortion rate would be 57 percent higher. The teen pregnancy rate would be 76 percent higher,” Mitchell said. “Publicly supported family planning even saves the government money—$3.74 for every dollar invested. Cutting Title X hurts women and makes no sense financially.”

Title X funds are used by healthcare providers such as Allegheny General Hospital; Magee Women’s Hospital; Children’s Hospital Adolescent Clinic; UPMC sites at Mathilda Theiss in the Hill District, and the Latterman Clinic in McKeesport; St. Margaret’s Hospital sites in Bloomfield and in Lawrenceville; UPMC Mercy; Primary Health Services sites at Alma Illery in Homewood, in Braddock, in Duquesne, in the East End, in Hazelwood, and in Homestead; Planned Parenthood sites Downtown, in Bridgeville, Moon and  Greensburg; and Adagio Health direct service sites Downtown, in East Liberty and  McKees Rocks.

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