Yesterday, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) voted against a misguided Republican proposal to weaken the Title X national family planning program by rolling back a Title X rule designed to shield family planning clinics across the country from partisan state-level defunding efforts.
The Title X rule, which today the House voted to eliminate, prevents organizations from being barred from funding for reasons other than their ability to provide Title X services. The rule was implemented as a result of states, including the state of New Hampshire, eliminating or restricting Title X funding to providers based on the abortion or contraception services they provide. Federal funds are prohibited from being used for abortion except in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother.
This week, Kuster join more than 160 of her colleagues in calling for an end to attacks on women’s health care.
“This is nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on the ability of low income women and their families to access comprehensive family planning services,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “We’ve seen firsthand here in New Hampshire that partisan politics can interfere with care for thousands of Granite State women, men, and their families. We should be working to expand access to comprehensive family planning services not jeopardizing care for the most vulnerable among us.”
“We should be working together on solutions to the serious challenges we face as a nation, but instead, it’s another day in Congress, another attack on women’s health,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “The protection House Republicans opposed today was developed specifically to defend New Hampshire women and families’ access to care from ideological attacks, and today’s vote makes it clear that such protection is needed now more than ever.”
The rule House Republicans voted to roll back, clarifies that state governments must allocate federal Title X funds based on a provider’s ability to perform family planning services effectively, instead of for ideological reasons.
For more than 40 years, Title X has served as a cornerstone of safety-net care. As the only dedicated source of federal funding for family planning, Title X allows a diverse network of providers to deliver high-quality care to low-income, uninsured, or underinsured individuals and to those seeking confidential care. Title X also supports critical infrastructure needs for health centers, including new medical equipment and staff training that are not reimbursable under Medicaid and commercial insurance. This infrastructure is vital to ensuring safe, quality care at health centers which serve and provide basic health services to high-need populations.
In 2016, Title X funding helped nearly 4 million Americans get access to healthcare services including cancer screenings, birth control, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.
The independent, nonpartisan Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences states that Title X family planning can prevent unintended and high-risk pregnancies, thereby reducing fetal, infant, and maternal mortality and morbidity. IOM also stated that the appropriate use of contraception reduces abortion rates and cites “ample evidence that family planning services are cost-effective.”
In 2014, Title X family planning services helped avert an estimated 171,800 unintended teen pregnancies. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that without Title X clinics’ services, the 2014 U.S. teen pregnancy rate would have been 30% higher.
The Obama administration developed the protection in response to several states’ ideologically motivated attacks on women’s access to care and attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, including the New Hampshire Executive Council’s 2011 cancellation of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England’s contract. That vote denied women in several regions of the state access to crucial preventive care, leaving them with zero providers for several months.
In 2015, more than 17,000 people in New Hampshire accessed family planning services through Title X programs. Of those receiving services, nearly half were individuals under the poverty level.