The Romney/Ryan Plan to Shut Down Family PlanningPosted: August 19, 2012
A closer look at the Romney/Ryan Budget plan and plan for medicare/medicaid reveals some startling information on the future of family planning–if the Republicans have their way–according to a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood. It would severely limit access to women needing preventative cancer procedures and shut down much of the country’s access to family planning.
In 2010, clinics funded by Title X performed over 6 million Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) tests, according to STD awareness organizations. Planned Parenthood alone provides care to about one-third of Title X patients. And some studies show that Title X family planning actually saves taxpayers money—according to Guttmacher Institute, which promotes reproductive rights worldwide, in the US “every $1.00 invested in helping women avoid pregnancies they did not want to have saved $3.74 in Medicaid expenditures.”
Despite those statistics, Title X has drawn fierce opposition from the two men at the top of the GOP ticket. Last year, Ryan supported a bill that would have amended Title X to prohibit grants from being awarded to groups like Planned Parenthood that provide abortions. (Such groups are already forbidden from spending federal money on the procedures.) Romney wrote in a USA Today op-ed that he would scrap the Title X program entirely to cut costs.
Medicaid, which provides an even bigger chunk of funding for family planning centers than Title X, would also take a serious hit under Romney and Ryan—at least if Ryan’s budget proposal is any indication. Ryan’s plan suggests slashing Medicaid by $810 billion over the next decade. States would then receive fixed federal grants and would get to pick and choose who and what they would cover.
Family planning advocates say that if Ryan and Romney go through with overhauling the program, legislators will have no qualms about getting rid of women’s health clinics. Several states have already shown their willingness to slash women’s health funds. Last year, in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin, which has 27 Planned Parenthood clinics, Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) signed a bill cutting about $1 million in family planning funding. The cut will affect nine health centers and 12,000 patients, according to Nicole Safar, public policy director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin.
“Ryan’s plan essentially scraps Medicaid and gives the states chunks of money instead,” Safar explains. “In a state like Wisconsin, we wouldn’t have any chance to fund women’s health.”
Texas is another example of what the future of women’s health could look like if Romney and Ryan are elected. Last year, Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) slashed state family planning funds by two-thirds. As a result of those cuts, over 60 clinics (12 of which are Planned Parenthoods) in the Lone Star State have shut their doors, and over one hundred thousand women who previously had access to breast and cervical cancer screenings, STD tests, and birth control have been left without care.
Paul Ryan co-sponsored a federal “personhood” amendment. He voted to defund Planned Parenthood. He opposes all abortions, except when the life of the mother is at risk. And he supports a federal bill requiring women to get an ultrasound before an abortion.
So, he will pay for unnecessary ultrasounds. He just won’t pay for cervical or breast examinations to prevent and detect cancers.
Lisa Maatz, director of public policy and government relations at the American Association of University Women, a nationwide network of more than 100,000 members and donors, said the group has more than $2 million to spend on a voter education project in conjunction with the National Organization for Women. She sees the Ryan budget taking center stage.
“What we have found is that the only thing some women know about Mitt Romney is that he was the governor of Massachusetts, and so they think, ‘How conservative can he be?’” said Maatz. “Well the selection of Ryan crystallizes who Romney is — and allows us to draw a sharp contrast for women.”
Ryan’s co-sponsorship of a “personhood” bill is among the positions that Democrats are likely to highlight in the fall.
So, too, is his support of a bill to require a woman to have an ultrasound and see the in-utero picture of the fetus before an abortion. The bill, introduced by conservative Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), differs significantly from the controversial Virginia bill in that a transvaginal probe isn’t involved.
But the chances are high that distinction will be lost as Ryan’s vote record is highlighted in the coming months.
Ryan, a Catholic, has eschewed the social issues “truce” once advocated by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. He’s been clear and consistent on issues like abortion rights since he was elected to Congress, earning him praise from conservatives — who say their own base is energized by the presence of a mild-looking former altar boy on the ticket and believe Democrats are misreading the issue.
Democratic attacks on Ryan “won’t work because, in spite of the best efforts by Democrats, this election is about a different war on women — namely an economic war in which women have suffered more, lost more jobs and have higher unemployment and more lost income than men in this weak economy,” said Faith and Freedom Coalition head Ralph Reed.
“No attempt to change the subject from the economy will work among swing women voters. And even the use of moral issues cuts both ways. Their effort to portray Paul Ryan in an unflattering light because of his strong pro-life stance will also help the GOP ticket with Catholics and evangelicals, the majority of whom are women voters.”
There is a war on women and the republican presidential ticket is leading it.