(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) led 15 of their Democratic colleagues in the Senate in calling on Senate and House leadership to support robust funding for the Title X Family Planning Program—which provides birth control and essential health services to patients with the tightest budgets—after the conservative Supreme Court majority overturned Roe v. Wade.
Funding for the program is especially critical now that 19 states have imposed or will imminently impose bans or severe restrictions on access to abortion care in response to the Supreme Court’s decision, with several more expected to follow.
“As states move to ban abortion services outright or severely restrict these services, funding for contraception and family planning services offered by trusted providers is more crucial than ever,” the senators wrote. “While no level of funding for contraception will ever obviate the need for abortion services, we know that people across the country will turn to family planning providers for more accessible contraceptive options in the wake of this decision.”
In addition to Senators Murray, Feinstein, and Warren, the letter was signed by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).
A companion letter, led by Representatives Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) and Dina Titus (D-Nev.), was signed by 128 members of the House of Representatives.
Full text of the letter is available here and follows:
July 13, 2022
The Honorable Chuck Schumer
United States Senate
S-221, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives
H-232, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Majority Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi:
We write to urge you to include robust support for the Title X Family Planning Program in any mandatory or discretionary funding package you bring to the House and Senate Floor in the coming months. On June 24th, the Supreme Court overturned nearly 50 years of precedent by overturning Roe v. Wade, removing a fundamental constitutional right from half of all Americans. As states move to ban abortion services outright or severely restrict these services, funding for contraception and family planning services offered by trusted providers is more crucial than ever. While no level of funding for contraception will ever obviate the need for abortion services, we know that people across the country will turn to family planning providers for more accessible contraceptive options in the wake of this decision.
Title X is the only federal program dedicated to providing family planning services for people with low incomes. In 2018, prior to the implementation of the Trump administration’s devastating new program rules, nearly 4,000 health centers in the network served close to 4 million patients. Title X-funded health centers are lifelines in their communities, providing high-quality family planning and sexual health care, including cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, contraceptive services and supplies, pregnancy testing, and other essential health care services. These centers offer care to populations that often face severe structural barriers to accessing quality health care, such as people with low incomes, individuals with no or insufficient insurance, people of color, rural communities, and LGBTQ people. These are precisely the populations who are most likely to be denied access to abortion care in a post-Roe America.
Following the passage of a SB 8, a 2021 Texas law prohibiting abortion after a fetal heartbeat, HHS provided emergency funding to Every Body Texas, the statewide Title X grantee, recognizing that family planning resources would be strained as access to abortion was restricted. The agency also awarded $10 million in grants to expand access to emergency contraception to any Title X applicant that could demonstrate an influx in demand as a result of the Texas law. Additionally, in January of this year, HHS awarded more than $6 million through this program to address increased needs for family planning services in places where restrictive laws have impacted access to reproductive health services.
Unfortunately, Title X lacks sufficient funds to meet the growing need for family planning care in light of the nationwide emergency we currently face, particularly since Republicans prevented any increase for the program in the final FY 2022 appropriations package. For eight years, the Title X appropriations allocations have been flat-funded at $286 million, well below the $737 million that researchers determined was necessary to meet family planning care needs in 2016. Moving emergency Title X funding in an upcoming legislative package offers Congress the opportunity to deliver additional funding directly to these Title X providers immediately, just as demand is increasing, while the FY23 appropriations cycle is a critical way to set a new floor for Title X funding. This support will be needed in states across the country, regardless of their abortion laws; states with no or severely restricted access to care are seeing increased demand for contraception, while reproductive and sexual health centers in haven states are already strained under a surge of patients traveling from other regions, many of whom may also wish to access contraceptive care.
Democrats previously recognized the importance of supporting Title X providers in the American Rescue Plan, which provided $50 million in emergency funding to help health centers recover from the impacts of the pandemic. Including emergency funding in any must-pass legislative package will demonstrate to the American public that Democrats in the House and Senate stand for reproductive rights and freedom at every level, in every state in the Union.
We once again urge you to include the maximum possible funding for the Title X program.