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Issue Position: Women's Issues - Access to Family Planning

Issue Position

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Widespread use of birth control continues to be a critical component of basic preventive health care for women and has been the driving force in reducing national rates of unintended pregnancies, STD infections, and abortions.

Background:

Widespread use of birth control continues to be a critical component of basic preventive health care for women and has been the driving force in reducing national rates of unintended pregnancies, STD infections, and abortions.

The National Family Planning Program, created in 1970 as Title X of the Public Health Services Act, provides grants to public and private non-profit agencies to provide voluntary family planning services for individuals who are otherwise ineligible for medical services. Title X serves over five million low-income women at 4,500 clinics nationwide, providing high-quality contraceptive services and other preventive health care services including: contraceptive and infertility services, gynecological care, screening for STDs, breast and cervical cancers, and reproductive health counseling, education and referrals.

Title X is the only federal program devoted solely to family planning and related preventive health services, and it is one of the nation's best and most cost-effective public health success stories: for every public dollar invested in family planning services, three dollars are saved in Medicaid costs for pregnancy and newborn care alone. In 2004, Title X funded clinics provided 2.8 million pap tests, 2.7 million breast exams, 5.4 million STD screenings, and 530,569 HIV tests.

Recent News:

Unfortunately, Title X has recently come under attack. The House voted to pass H.Con.Res. 36, a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. Rep. Eshoo voted against this bill. Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive healthcare, pap smears, mammograms, sex education, cancer screenings, vaccines, counseling, and physical exams to those with and without health insurance. One in five American women has received care from Planned Parenthood at some point in their lives and for more than 90 years, their widely accessible health centers have provided a range of safe and reliable healthcare services. Ninety-seven percent of the care Planned Parenthood provides is for prevention, including breast cancer screenings, birth control, and annual exams for women. Three percent of funding--and no federal funding, under existing federal law--is used for abortion services.

Rep. Eshoo also voted against H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The bill passed the House by a vote of 251-175. The bill would do far more than limit federal dollars for abortion, which has been law since the Hyde Amendment passed in 1976. Under H.R. 3, if someone buys private insurance that includes coverage for abortions, they'll be taxed. If someone buys private insurance that doesn't include coverage for abortions, they can deduct the cost of the health plan from their taxes. This would turn our tax collection agency into a healthcare policing agency.

Rep. Eshoo supports a woman's legal right to opt for, or against, an abortion. The decision is private. It's a matter of faith and it's a matter of conscience, and our Constitution recognizes this. H.R. 3, for the first time in our country's history, uses the tax code to dictate based on which private health insurance policy individuals buy, whether they're rewarded or penalized based on politics and ideology.


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