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Monday, March 7, 2011

Congress Debates FY 2011 Spending Bill; Fate of Critical Reproductive Health Programs

The U.S. Senate is considering a spending bill that would fund the federal government for the remainder of FY 2011. At stake is funding for international family planning programs and Title X, the only federal program dedicated to domestic family planning and reproductive health. The House version of the bill, which was passed on February 19, proposed an unprecedented $60 billion in spending cuts, including potentially detrimental impacts for reproductive health. The bill seeks to:

  • Cut by 39% President Obama’s FY 2011 request for bilateral international family planning and reproductive health funding, from $716 million to $440 million. This represents a $208.5 million reduction from current levels.
  • Reinstate the Global Gag Rule, which prohibits any overseas organization receiving U.S. aid from having anything to do with abortion. When it was instituted in the past, the Global Gag Rule had detrimental consequences for the health and lives of women and their families, by creating more barriers to critical health services such as family planning, obstetric care, HIV testing, and malaria treatment.
  • Prohibit U.S. contributions to the United Nations Population Fund, an international development agency dedicated to promoting reproductive health and rights.
  • Completely eliminate funding for Title X, a $317 million program signed into law in 1970 to cover family planning and reproductive health for low-income women in the United States. It is the only federal program dedicated to this end. Sign our action alert today and ask your senators to protect Title X funding.
  • Bar Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funding for any purpose.

The proposal by Rep. Rob Latta to eliminate international family planning funding was not considered as part of the House bill, which is good news. The potential cuts, however, to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Teen Pregnancy Prevention programs were included in the final, approved version.

Despite these challenges to sexual and reproductive health in the current spending bill, President Obama’s proposed budget for FY 2012 increases funding for development and global health. Unveiled last month, the budget proposal reflects the global development strategy announced last year. In the proposal, the Global Health Initiative received $8.7 billion, an 11% increase from the previous year. Development assistance also rose from $2.5 billion to $2.9 billion.

We will continue to keep you informed with policy updates as we receive them. We appreciate your support and action.

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