GOP-led war on women leaves many without lifesaving services

GOP-led war on women leaves many without lifesaving services

Washington : DC : USA | Jun 02, 2012 at 8:19 AM PDT
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Many women lack access to contraceptives, which could lower the rate of maternal deaths

As the GOP-led war on women rages on, low-income women are beginning to pay a serious price. Family Planning is the only option for a variety of medical services for many low-income women. Religious beliefs are clouding a system that serves millions of women, depriving them of services. Funding is being reduced, significantly cut and in some situations funding is being completely eliminated for Family Planning services in the United States. The services offered by Family Planning include birth control, pap smears, breast exams, pregnancy tests, HIV testing and other basic medical services.

Over one half of the publicly funded clinics have reported that they offer up to 13 various reversible methods of contraceptives. Guttmacher reports, “Publicly funded family planning clinics play a critical role in providing millions of women basic sexual and reproductive health services. This care allows women and couples to avoid unintended pregnancies, plan their families and obtain a wide range of preventive care services that protect their health and well-being.”

Montana, New Jersey, Kansas, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Iowa, New Hampshire, Maine, Ohio, Arizona, Indiana and North Carolina have completely defunded Family Planning or significantly cut funding for Family Planning- leaving hundreds of thousands of women with no preventive care options. If presumptive Republican presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney follows through on his promise to "get rid of" Planned Parenthood funding entirely, the number of affected patients could climb to five million.

According to "Inside the United States, the federal government addresses family planning mostly through funding public health clinics. Chapter 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 59, also known as 'Title X,' provides federal grant money to public health clinics, particularly those that serve poor families. Title X specifically prohibits public health clinics that provide information about abortion from receiving grant funding. These clinics may, however, provide information about and access to various forms of contraception.U.S. states have enacted a number of laws on family planning. Although federal law prohibits states from banning access to abortion or contraception entirely, various states have passed laws regulating these services, particularly abortion. For example, 38 U.S. states require abortions to be performed by a licensed physician, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and 24 states require a patient to wait at least 24 hours between seeking an abortion and undergoing one."

The Guttmacher Institute reports “Title X of the Public Health Service Act is the sole federal program devoted entirely to family planning. Through Title X the federal government sets family planning policy, and its flexible grant funds not only subsidize direct client services, but are critical to putting family planning centers in communities and to supporting their ongoing infrastructure needs. These services are vital: U.S. women who are not using contraceptives, or who are using them inconsistently, represent one-third of all women at risk of unintended pregnancy and account for 95% of the three million unintended pregnancies that occur every year.(1) Unintended pregnancy, in turn, has been linked with numerous negative maternal and child health outcomes. More broadly, women’s ability to rely on contraception enables them to invest in higher education and to be full participants in the nation’s workforce.(2)”

Although opponents of Family Planning services tout religious beliefs against abortions, it is obvious that other vital services are offered to clients as well. Defunding Family Planning is an attempt to force the religious beliefs of the extreme right on low income women forcing them to bear children they do not want, cannot afford and this will ultimately lead to an extremely bigger burden on the American taxpayer when these children are born and put into the social services system. In addition, women who desperately need access to cancer screening, HIV testing and other vital services are going to be left with no options for these services.

Religious beliefs are valued by society, and they should be. However, when religious beliefs are able to affect the lives of hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of women- a serious problem exists. Religion has impacted the political system so significantly it has destroyed the process entirely.

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GOP-led war on women leaves many without lifesaving services
Amee Ellsworth is based in Bennett, Colorado, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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