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Legislation could eliminate Planned Parenthood funding

BY RYAN COLE | FEBRUARY 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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More than 50,000 Iowa women could soon see an increase in the cost of reproductive health care.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Feb. 18 that would eliminate federal funding for female-specific health-care organizations nationwide, including Planned Parenthood, which receives $1 million out of the $4 million the Title X Family Planning program gives to Iowa.

Title X, enacted in 1970 as part of the Public Health Service Act, provides funding for family planning and preventative health services and gives priority to low-income families, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The funding it provides to Iowa reduces fees for cancer screening and treatment, annual health exams, and birth control. None of the money goes toward funding abortions, said Jill June, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

“[The bill] hurts women by denying them access to affordable health care,” she said.

The organization provides services to residents in 86 Iowa counties as well as some in Nebraska and Illinois.

June said 98 percent of the program’s operations revolve around health-care provision and prevention of unwanted pregnancies. Low-income women are the prime beneficiaries of the federal funding, she said.

“Planned Parenthood does more than any other organization in the country to encourage the use of contraception,” June said.

Eliminating funding would could lead to more unplanned pregnancies, she said, ultimately resulting in an increased number of abortions.

Some Iowa legislators said the bill was a manifestation of state and federal government’s attempts to trim the budget.

“A lot of states … are having some financial difficulties,” said Sen. Shawn Hamerlinck, R-Dixon. “You have to cut somewhere because the size of government can’t sustain itself.”

But June said the move had more to do with ethics.

“This isn’t about saving money; this isn’t about the budget,” she said. “It’s absolutely ideological.”

A 2010 University of Iowa study found for every $1 invested in family-planning services, the government saves more than $3 in public funding, which might be spent on welfare assistance, medical assistance, and vaccines for children.

Congress is also exploring cuts to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. The program provides nutritional food and information to low-income families.

Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, said he was perturbed by the bill’s inconsistency in this larger context.

“If you cut back on Planned Parenthood, then you’d better help out quite a bit with [the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children],” he said. “We want families to be healthy and see that life is valuable.”

The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate, but June said she will continue to resist the legislation.

“We’re going to fight this tooth and nail,” she said.


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