Guttmacher chart on Title x benefits

House Republicans are trying to eliminate the federal family planning program again

Apparently, it’s 2011 all over again

House Republicans released a budget proposal this week that would eliminate funding for the Title X program, a decades-old network of family planning providers offering birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing, and reproductive health treatment to millions of low-income women across the country.

The Title X program was first created in 1970 under former President Richard Nixon. Back then, federally-funded family planning services had broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle acknowledged the government’s role in making birth control more accessible to impoverished Americans. “It is my view that no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition,” Nixon declared at the time.

Since then, the GOP position has shifted considerably. Spurred by concerns that some Title X providers — like Planned Parenthood — also function as abortion clinics, conservative lawmakers have set their sights on stripping funding from the federal program. In 2011, House Republicans voted along party lines to dismantle Title X.

There’s not much to say that we haven’t already said a million times before. Or that President Nixon — Nixon, for fuck’s sake — didn’t already say 45 years ago. The Title X program saves lives and money. At its funding levels in recent years, it’s only been able to meet the needs of about a third of the 20 million women in this country who need access to publicly funded contraception. Cutting it — which is more of a real risk today than it was in 2011 since the Senate is now also under Republican control — would be devastating to public health.

And despite the anti-choice movement truly awe-inspiring commitment to their self-deception that better birth control access somehow doesn’t reduce unintended pregnancies, eliminating Title X would be a pretty solid way to increase the number of abortions, too.

Header image credit: Guttmacher Institute

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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