Family Planning No. 121
The opportunity to plan one's family and to decide when and whether to bear children is a basic human right, a responsibility, and an urgent necessity for the well being of individual families and nations.
Americans for Democratic Action urges the Congress to reauthorize and fully fund Title X of the Public Health Services Act. Specifically, ADA urges the passages of the bipartisan "Prevention First Act of 2005" (S. 20/H.R. 1709), a family planning bill that would increase Title X funding. The Title X program provides basic health care and respects the confidentiality of clients, serving nearly five million low-income women and adolescents in over 4,000 clinics nationwide. The need for Title X funding has never been greater, as today almost 17 million women need publicly supported contraceptive services.
ADA also supports a strong international family planning and population assistance program as part of a balanced and humane foreign aid program to assist developing nations. We oppose efforts to politicize the program, and will urge continuation and expansion of funding of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Unfortunately, President Bush has frozen all funds toward the UNFPA programs. ADA opposes this action and urges the release of these funds.
ADA strongly opposes requiring parental consent or notification for providing contraceptives and abortion services. We oppose legislation that makes it a crime for an adult, other than her parent, to transport a minor across state lines to receive abortion services.
Studies repeatedly have shown that age-appropriate, comprehensive sex education encourages more responsible sexual behavior and reduces both unwanted pregnancy and abortion among teenagers. Abstinence always is included in sex education but no study has ever been produced that indicates that stressing abstinence alone leads to positive results.
We strongly oppose President Bush's recent initiative that allocates $33 million to a educational program that "stresses abstinence." This program not only shifts funds away from a proven program to a dubious and unproven one, but also leaves teens uninformed on ways to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. ADA supports programs that teach both abstinence and the health benefits of contraception.
We believe the policies of the U.S. regarding reproductive rights abroad should mirror those at home; that we should work to insure that women in the developing world have a full range of options and freedoms to enable them to bear children or to avoid doing so.
The U.S. should devote extensive resources to the development of new and more effective means of birth control for use both at home and throughout the world. While we acknowledge the value of natural family planning (NFP) programs when used by motivated families, we believe the extraordinary growth in U.S. funds being used to promote NFP overseas reflects yet another form of political manipulation of the program.
Additionally, ADA condemns President Bush's reinstatement of the Mexico City policy. This policy cuts U.S. aid to any group that performs or promotes abortion outside of the United States even if they use non-federal funds to do so and even if abortion is a legal option in the country in which these services are offered.
RU 486 has shown itself to be an effective early alternative to surgical abortion with minimal risks and side effects. It also shows promise in the treatment of various endocrine problems. Although legally available, RU 486 often is not accessible to women because of doctors' concerns about adverse political activity and because of pharmacists' refusal to fill the prescriptions. Anti-choice lawmakers are increasingly moving to block access to the drug.
Emergency contraception pills (EC) could reduce the number of unintended pregnancies by 1.7 million annually and further reduce the number of abortions by 800,000. EC is a concentrated dosage of ordinary birth control pills that reduces the chance of becoming pregnant by 75% when taken in a specific dose within 72 hours after sexual intercourse. Emergency contraception does not cause abortion. Rather, it prevents ovulation, fertilization, and implantation. Greater access to, acceptance of, and education regarding EC is essential to lowering the rate of unplanned pregnancies in the U.S. Therefore ADA condemns the FDA's refusal, against the advice of its scientific panel, to certify EC for over- the-counter sale, and urges the FDA to make this medication available over the counter as soon as possible. Also, hospitals should be required to stock EC and offer it as part of their post-rape services.
Further, we urge the inclusion of contraceptive services as part of basic health care coverage. While most health insurance companies cover prescription drugs, many exclude contraceptives. Some states have attempted to pass legislation to require contraceptive coverage by insurance companies, but this cannot protect all women. Federal legislation is necessary to ensure private insurance coverage of contraception nationwide. This coverage will allow women to have more access to the most effective forms of contraception regardless of cost and allow a greater number of women to plan for their pregnancies, reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion.
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Federally Proposed Legislation:
S.1240 : A bill to provide for the provision by hospitals receiving Federal funds through the Medicare program or Medicaid program of emergency contraceptives to women who are survivors of sexual assault.
Sponsor: Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] (introduced 4/26/2007) Cosponsors (7)
Committees: Senate Finance
Latest Major Action: 4/26/2007 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.