Women’s Health Gets through First Round of Budget Negotiations but the Game Is Still On

The White House and Congress have reached a budget deal over last weekend to keep the federal government running for the short term. Congress is expected to vote on the longer-term budget soon.  Women’s health and reproductive health was taken off the table for the short term solution, however, these issues are likely to rise when Congress begins debating long term budget solutions.  Here’s the issue:

Conservatives (mainly Republicans)  have been pushing to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood during the budget talks.  In addition, they want to redirect federal dollars now set aside for family planning and women’s health services into block grants to be managed by the states. Democrats argue this policy change would give governors and state legislatures more ability to cut funding for services opposed by conservatives.  For those of you who may not understand the political implications of federal vs state funding policies, consider this.   If one state is socially liberal and is next to a more conservative state, there is a real possibility that more poverty stricken individuals will consider moving to a state with more liberal assistance programs, thus increasing the burden on the state that is more “giving”.   This creates a two tiered system of entitlement and in the end creates further divisiveness.

I looked up the services provided by Planned Parenthood in my home state of Illinois.   In 2009, 70,738 people received STD testing (includes both women and men), 24,055 women had PAP tests, 26,579 had breast exams, and 54,470 were seen for birth control.  More than 95% of those served earned less than $21,000 per year.   Who do you think would be hurt most if Planned Parenthood lost their funding?