Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Abortion of Title X

Sean Ewart

The Nixon administration may be infamous for many things, but we owe a debt of gratitude to the deceased Republican for signing Title X into law. Nearly echoing Marx – who championed woman's rights as the surest sign of social liberalization – Nixon believed that “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition." Given today's economic climate we would imagine Title X funding to be secure, especially in light of the services it provides: information and access to contraception and related health care needs for low-income men and women. But instead this vital funding is on the brink of annihilation by House Republicans who stand opposed to it because of a flight of fancy. Directly from the GOP's website, they affirm their stance against “using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and [they] will not fund organizations which advocate it.” And thus Title X, which does NOT provide funding for abortions, is up against the wall because groups which receive these monies are also frequently pro-choice. It is ironic that the same piece of legislation which was conceived by Republicans is about to be aborted by them – for the most ridiculous of rationals.

Title X is clearly not a threat to family values, or even conservative values in any sense (in the 1970's, Republicans actually supported Title X as a way to keep people off welfare). In fact, this statute is responsible for providing family planning services to over five million Americans every year through a network of thousands of clinics across the nation. These clinics are not all Planned Parenthood clinics either, which the GOP apparently believes, but include religious organizations, community centers, and tribal groups. 75% of U.S. counties have a clinic which receives funding via Title X – funding which will be lost assuming the House gets its way. What exactly does the money fund at the clinics? A lot. Cancer screening, HIV and STD testing, prevention, counseling, and referral services are offered with the funds in addition to pregnancy services. On top of these vital services, Title X also funds community education programs which make people aware of ways to promote “positive birth outcomes and healthy families.” The program gives priority to low income individuals and couples as a matter of law and is crucial as a tool to empower those on the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. Again, Title X is not used to fund abortions. It is rather an important resource for those communities which need family planning and education services the most – what could possibly be so offensive about that?

To understand the mind of the GOP, you really have to lose all preconceived notions about sense; this is especially true when dealing with issues such as community services and family planning. The real goal of cutting Title X is ending Planned Parenthood and other similar groups which, in addition to vital health services, provide abortions. Of course, the GOP has cloaked its campaign against Planned Parenthood in typical political rhetoric: ending budget deficits, making sex more personal, saving women, etc. And while we all know that cutting support for women is the best way to help them (wait, what?) lets be clear that cutting the $363 million a year Title X gives to Planned Parenthood is not about to patch up this year's $1.5 trillion deficit (maybe we should think about cutting military spending...). But even granting that cutting Title X won't thrust us back into the black, the GOP is against it because clinics like Planned Parenthood advocate a “utilitarian approach to sexuality.” Because attempting to achieve the greater good of humanity is somehow bad (wait... what??). To sum up the GOP justification for cutting Title X, Chuck Donovan of the Heritage Foundation has this to say, “over the long term, real health care reform will move toward honoring the dignity of poor women by giving them options to own their health-care policies and by continuing the popular and well-established policy against tax-subsidized abortions.” Right, but Chuck, Title X does not fund abortions... nor are abortions tax-subsidized.

The obvious truth is this: the GOP is attempting to cut funding to Planned Parenthood and other like organizations because it just wants to. They must know that tax payers save $4 for ever dollar invested in family planning (according to the Guttmacher Institute) and they know that the Federal government already bans federal funding of abortions. They must know that Title X goes to fund services which low-income communities desperately need. And yet the GOP stands in opposition to programs that have been shown time and time again to save money and lives. Why the GOP hates family planning is slightly obscure (though the party's religiosity may have something to do with it), but the line has been drawn in the sand nonetheless: Title X must go. In the end this is probably a move to cash in on the conservative voting base of the GOP (which is heavily religious), and is most likely a better representation of politics rather than passion. But if crucial services are on the chopping block due to political pandering, its time we – the majority of Americans – get passionate about politics and stop the abortion of Title X.

1 comment:

  1. I would agree to Planned parenthood funding if they gave up providing abortion.