Leticia Parra, a mother of five scraping by on income from her husband’s sporadic construction jobs, relied on the Planned Parenthood clinic in San Carlos, an impoverished town in South Texas, for breast cancer screenings, free birth control pills and pap smears for cervical cancer.
But the clinic closed in October, along with more than a dozen others in the state, after financing for women’s health was slashed by two-thirds by the Republican-controlled Legislature.
The cuts, which left many low-income women with inconvenient or costly options, grew out of the effort to eliminate state support for Planned Parenthood. Although the cuts also forced clinics that were not affiliated with the agency to close — and none of them, even the ones run by Planned Parenthood, performed abortions — supporters of the cutbacks said they were motivated by the fight againstabortion.
As the case in Texas illustrates, such battles are affecting broader women’s health services. Some women have lost the only nearby clinic providing routine care.
Nationally, the newest target is Title X, the main federal family planning program. All four Republican presidential candidates support eliminating Title X, which was created in 1970 with Republican support from President Nixon and the elder George Bush, then a congressman.
Like other federal financing, Title X does not pay for abortions. Only some of it covers birth control. Title X also provides money for cervical and breast cancer screening, testing for H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted diseases, adolescent abstinence counseling, infertility counseling and other services.
Mitt Romney’s fiscal plan proposes eliminating Title X because it “subsidizes family planning programs that benefit abortion groups like Planned Parenthood.”
Rick Santorum, in a recent debate, acknowledged, to boos, that in Congress he voted for appropriations bills that included Title X money. He pledged to rectify that if elected, saying, “I’ve always opposed Title X funding.”
President Obama supports Title X, which serves five million low-income people.
Two things. First, Rick Santorum supported funding Title X a couple of weeks ago, but no more. He’s done a dramatic 180. You heard that right, Rick Santorum was to the Left of the Republican Party on contraception:
“It’s funny that I’ve been criticized by Governor Romney and by Ron Paul for having voted for something called Title X, which is actually federal funding of contraception,” Santorum told CBS’s Charlie Rose. “My public policy beliefs are that contraception should be available. Again, I’ve supported Title X funding.”
Excellent. Except, here is Santorum, five days later, at the Arizona presidential debate:
“As Congressman Paul knows, I opposed Title X funding. I’ve always opposed Title X funding, but it’s included in a large appropriation bill that includes a whole host of other things,” Santorum said.
Second, President Obama more than “supports” Title X. President Obama stood in the way when the Tea Party House ordered Boehner to gut Title X.
But when Boehner later asked for the elimination of funds for Title X — spending for women’s health and family planning organizations that also provide abortion services, the aide said the president flatly refused.
The president replied, “Nope. Zero.”
Boehner continued to push to discuss the funds, the aide recalled.
The President repeated: “Nope. Zero.”
“‘John, this is it,'” the aide described the president as saying. “‘This is it, John.”
This is Title X:
The Title X Family Planning program [“Population Research and Voluntary Family Planning Programs” (Public Law 91-572)], was enacted in 1970 as Title X of the Public Health Service Act. Title X is the only Federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. The Title X program is designed to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies and information to all who want and need them. By law, priority is given to persons from low-income families.
Title X has been funded in a bipartisan manner since 1970. Rick Santorum voted for Title X funding as late as 2006. Now, the entire Republican Party opposes Title X funding.
This is a huge step backwards for the GOP, a big policy change, and they need to address it, not on abortion, but on contraception. Beneath all the screaming about sluts, there really is an attack on contraception on the Right. Democrats and Republicans are fighting on policy here, not rhetoric. Republicans are substantively going after access to contraception, and women are being affected by that right now.
Republicans are not being straight with women on this. If they are attempting to defund Title X (and they are) and closing the clinics where certain women can access contraception (and they are) that is an attack on contraception. They can call it whatever they want, but the practical effect is loss of access to contraception. Mitt Romney, the “moderate”, opposes Title X funding. That’s how far Right they’ve gone on contraception.
“I will have to go without,” Ms. Parra said as she left an English class at a community center and was walking to pick up her two youngest children from a Head Start program. “If I get pregnant again, God forbid.”