There’s hope for women yet. The Obama administration has just proposed a new rule that would prevent states from defunding Planned Parenthood for political reasons. This new rule (which is awesome, might I point out), which the Department of Health and Human Services proposed last week, says that states cannot withhold Title X federal family planning money for any reason other than the provider’s “ability to deliver services to program beneficiaries in an effective manner.”
This is a huge win, as it means states can no longer vote to defund Planned Parenthood because some of its clinics offer abortion services. It’s no secret that Planned Parenthood does more than just offer abortion services, like providing access to cancer screenings and other crucial exams for women. Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, stated how important this is for all women:
“This will make a real difference in so many people’s lives. Thanks to the Obama administration, women will still be able to access the birth control they need to plan their families, and the cancer screenings they need to stay healthy.”
The Title X program provides basic preventive health care and family planning services for 4 million low-income Americans. About 85% of patients who use Title X have incomes below $23,500, and because Planned Parenthood serves roughly a third of those patients, this is literally life changing.
As of now, the organization uses the $70 million a year it receives in Title X grants to subsidize contraceptives and cancer and sexually transmitted infection screenings for people who can’t afford them. Despite what people may believe, Title X does not allow any money to be used to pay for abortions for any reason.
Despite this, politicians in 11 states have voted to block public funds from Planned Parenthood because its services include abortion. Republicans in Congress have sought to defund the organization, citing a series of debunked undercover videos produced by anti-abortion activists that purport to show Planned Parenthood selling fetal body parts. It is absolutely absurd that people hate women having ownership over their bodies so much.
It’s also crucial to note that Planned Parenthood is one of the few places fighting against Zika, the rapidly spreading virus that causes severe birth defects, especially as The Centers for Disease Control said the “primary strategy” to reduce Zika-related pregnancy complications can be done by helping women prevent or delay pregnancy through family planning and birth control–which means people need access to it.
As such, Planned Parenthood is distributing Zika prevention kits and education–but this proves hard in certain areas, like Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, because their representatives have voted to block funds to Planned Parenthood. The scary part? Around 84 pregnant women in Florida are currently infected with Zika.
This is precisely why we need the new Title X rule to become permanent after the 30-day public comment period. Thanks, Obama.