By Janel George, National Women’s Law Center
Still smarting from their failed attempt last week to strip health coverage away from 24 million individuals–including many women—by repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), conservative leaders are pushing for a Senate vote to strip away protections for vital family planning providers. Last week’s failed bill was nothing more than a part of a prolonged attack on women’s health care that would have stripped away maternity coverage, imposed restrictions on abortion coverage in private plans, and put affordable health coverage out of reach for many women and their families. And this week—it’s more of the same.
As early as Thursday, the Senate could vote on a resolution that already passed the House of Representatives that would eliminate a final Title X regulation issued by the Obama Administration. In the final regulation, the Obama Administration reaffirmed existing federal law and put states on notice that arbitrarily denying Title X family planning funds to providers, like Planned Parenthood clinics, for reasons unrelated to the quality of care provided is a violation of federal law.
The resolution up for a vote this week would get rid of that regulation. It would embolden states to arbitrarily deny federal Title X family planning funds to certain providers—for reasons totally unrelated to the provider’s ability to provide quality family planning services.
The Obama regulation came on the heels of several state attempts—many which failed or are currently being challenged in court–to pass laws putting restrictions on Title X funding recipients. These efforts are based on political objections abortion, and are part of a broader campaign to undermine women’s access to trusted health providers.
Do not be mistaken—these attacks, including this vote, would likely result in individuals losing access to critical family planning and preventive care provided by Title X sites, including:
- Breast exams—which were provided to over 1 million women nationally at Title X sites in 2015;
- Other important confidential preventive care, including screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)/HIV, and health education; and
- Contraceptive care and counseling that helped women avoid 904,000 unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 439,000 unplanned births in 2014.
It’s time to stop playing politics with women’s health and tell the Senate that a vote to condone discrimination against family planning providers is a vote to restrict women’s access to critical health care services.