Planned Parenthood waits for budget cut decision

The U.S. House passed an ammendment to defund the program Feb. 18.

by Ashley Aram

Planned Parenthood and other clinics supported under the Title X Family Planning program could lose about $317 million in federal funding.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Feb. 18 to eradicate federal funding to Planned Parenthood and zero out Title X funds. The Senate was going to vote on the funding cut this week but received a two-week extension to avoid a government shutdown without voting on the bill. The verdict remains uncertain.

Former President Richard Nixon enacted the Title X program 41 years ago. The funds from it go to basic reproductive and preventative health care services for low-income men and women, and clinics across the country, such as Planned Parenthood.

“Nearly 55,000 women rely on Title X in Minnesota,” Planned ParenthoodâÄôs spokeswoman Kathi Di Nicola said.

Planned Parenthood has 26 clinics across Minnesota and is open to everyone. The average patient has an annual income of less than $11,000. Its services include emergency contraception, routine physicals for men and women, HIV and STI testing, pregnancy testing, and annual exams and screenings for breast, testicular and cervical cancer.

The most controversial of the clinicsâÄô services is their referral for abortions. While federal funding for abortions is currently illegal, the bills were created to keep that money from being indirectly tied to the procedure.

“First of all we have a huge budget deficit, and unfortunately a lot of things are going to be cut,” Students for a Conservative Voice President Nick Amell said. “There are also a lot of taxpayers that arenâÄôt pro-choice, they are pro-life, and they donâÄôt want to fund what will eventually go to a pro-choice type of clinic.”

In the Twin Cities area, about 7,500 people ages 18 to 22 use Planned Parenthood, according to Di Nicola.

While the loss of these funds will not affect the University of MinnesotaâÄôs reproductive and preventative health services, some worry it will negatively impact students and the greater community.

“WeâÄôre not an island here at the U,” said Dave Golden, director of public health at Boynton Health Service. “We want sexual health education going on all over the place. There are plenty of other people out there that donâÄôt have health service, and itâÄôs really important that we all are dealing with the same knowledge base.”

For Claire Dunlap, a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative and a strategic communications junior, the cuts are far from ideal.

“I think Planned Parenthood is a really great thing,” Dunlap said. “I knew people that used it in high school, and I know people who still use it. I think cutting money from it would be a
horrible decision.”

In 2006, Medicaid provided $1.3 billion to family planning services, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which conducts sexual and reproductive
health research.

“I think those services will still be available,” Amell said. “But as far as in the public sector, theyâÄôre trying to curb away so if people truly want to run those businesses they have the right to, but taxpayers who are pro-life shouldnâÄôt have to fund those at the same time.”

According to Sarah Stoesz, president of Planned Parenthood in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, Title X offers services that prevent problems that would be a greater cost down the line. In a statement in response to the proposed legislation, she asks citizens to “call on common sense” when considering these cuts.