Public funding of family planning in danger

May 1, 2005

Family planning programs that provide contraceptive services, counseling, and STD testing may be threatened if public funding does not increase and conservative lawmakers have their way, warns The Alan Guttmacher Institute. The nonprofit organization notes that almost 17 million women nationwide rely on the funds provided by Medicaid, Title X of the Public Health Service Act, and state programs to subsidize these family planning services.

Family planning programs that provide contraceptive services, counseling, and STD testing may be threatened if public funding does not increase and conservative lawmakers have their way, warns The Alan Guttmacher Institute. The nonprofit organization notes that almost 17 million women nationwide rely on the funds provided by Medicaid, Title X of the Public Health Service Act, and state programs to subsidize these family planning services.

In the nonprofit organization's analysis, "Conservatives' Agenda Threatens Public Funding for Family Planning," the authors noted that, with more Republicans in Congress, funding for these programs are under attack. In February, for example, President Bush presented a bill to Congress that would cut Medicaid as a whole and change its rules to allow states to reduce some benefits to enrollees, such as possibly getting rid of the guarantee to provide family planning services at no cost.

Moreover, conservatives-concerned that public monies are funding abortion services-are taking aim at these programs. The controversy has caused at least one state, Missouri, to stop funding contraceptive services entirely. Last year, eight states introduced similar legislation.

The institute also emphasized that, despite increasing opposition, these programs are beneficial. It estimates that, for every $1 spent on contraceptive services, $3 is saved on pregnancy-related and newborn care. It also cited a federally commissioned study of Medicaid family planning expansions, which showed that the programs improved access to care, while reducing costs.