Friday Roundup: How the sequester cuts will affect women, access to reproductive health

Pelosi with Democratic Women House members discussing the sequester

There’s not much to say about the sequester that hasn’t already been said (except, maybe, “Don’t ask me, I’m no sequexpert.” Ok, now that’s taken care of.) But hey, I’m just a blogger on a Friday afternoon trying to meet you where you’re at. And where you’re at is in sequester hell, whether you know it or not, if lots of Washington Post and Politico bloggers are to be believed. If you’re wondering what, exactly, I’m referring to when I talk about the sequester, well then we’ve come to the part of the post where you pick your sequester breakdown:

Here’s a sequester breakdown in cute animal images.

Here’s a sequester breakdown in GIFs (a “gifquester”)

Here’s a sequester breakdown in comic form featuring Kate Upton and Ryan Gosling

And here’s one in words, in case you prefer it the old-fashioned way.

The point is, tonight at 11:59 p.m., a bunch of automatic spending cuts put into law by the Budget Control Act go into effect. And while some are still clinging onto the hope of after-the-fact fix that would render the sequester largely void, it’s pretty much inevitable at this point that the sequester will go into effect, at least for a few weeks.

These cuts are pretty devastating across-the-board – that’s the point of them – but it’s especially worth noting that women’s and reproductive health programs are not immune. Below, a roundup of the sequester’s anti-feminist effects:

The Hill reports that Nancy Pelosi and a number of other female Democrats got together yesterday for a press release to warn of the sequester’s “disproportionately negative effect on the nation’s women”. Pelosi said the impact on women will be “specific, … substantial, and must be avoided” mentioning cuts to pre-natal care, cancer screenings, services to victims of domestic violence, and initiatives to support children and families (more on these later).

On the blog of Ms. Magazine, Malia Schilling echoes these concerns, warning of cuts to programs targeting violence against women. “The STOP Violence Against Women program, created under the Violence Against Women Act (just passed by the House…) would receive funding cuts in every state,” Schilling writes, while more broadly “more than $20 million might be lost from all of VAWA’s programs” including “resources for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.”

Schilling also warns of anti-family cuts to primary and secondary schooling as well as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which provides “nutritious foods, nutritional education and referrals to health and other social services free of charge to participants” and serves low-income pregnant women and mothers.

Jobs are another area where women could be hurt by sequestration cuts, as discussed in this article by Mercedes White. “According to one estimate from the Congressional Research Service, thousands of public-sector jobs would be lost if sequestration occurs. Since according to the Department of Labor women are 50 percent more likely than men to be employed in public-sector jobs — such as those in education — their jobs are more likely than men’s to be cut,” White explains.

Of course, reproductive health, that inevitable bargaining chip, will see devastating cuts as well. In a thorough piece entitled Cutting Title X Family Planning in the Sequester Hurts Women’s Reproductive Health Lindsay Rosenthal explains what’s at stake: “For more than 40 years, Title X has served primarily low-income women, who rely heavily on community health centers for their reproductive health care. Cutting this vital women’s health program is just one of many examples of the ways in which sequester cuts would harm the most vulnerable Americans—all for the sake of protecting the wealthy few from higher taxes.” Read the whole piece here. And click here to contact your congressperson and let them know how you feel about the whole thing.

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is Executive Director of Partnerships at Feministing, where she enjoys creating and curating content on gender, race, class, technology, and the media. Lori is also an advocacy and communications professional specializing in sexual and reproductive rights and health, and currently works in the Global Division of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A graduate of Harvard University, she lives in Brooklyn.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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