On Feb. 19, the House of Representatives, newly invigorated by 87 freshman Republicans, offered their version of the 2011 budget, cutting $61 billion dollars from federal programs in order to extend the deadline for the 2011 formal federal spending budget. Among the programs facing cutbacks are WIC (Women, Infants and Children), which provides health care and food for low-income pregnant women and their young children, and Planned Parenthood, which offers reproductive and sexual health-care at reduced rates. The current proposed budget would remove $330 million of funding from Planned Parenthood’s preventative health program, which provided breast and cervical cancer screenings, STD and pregnancy testing, counseling, contraceptives and family planning services to three million patients last year alone.
We at the UV think that these proposed cuts are preposterous. At a time when 50% of new STD cases reported in the United States are among people between the ages of 15 and 24, is it a wise idea to cut funding for a program that provides confidential treatment? We understand that making the weighty decision to have sex as a teenage girl exposes you to serious potential risks, but between peer pressure, hormones and outside influences, anyone can make mistakes. Without this back-up, which prevents public humiliation and possible punishment from parents, what is a teenager supposed to do? Considering many Planned Parenthood services, like examinations, are offered on a sliding fee scale (fees charged based on income), these cuts mean that they would have to raise prices.
32% percent of candidates elected during the 2010 midterms were endorsed by the socially-conservative Tea Party, which, like the Republican Party, has preached a conservative stance on sex, promoting adoption and abstinence over abortion. Perhaps these cuts intend to do more than eliminate the deficit. Instead of forcing their personal moral beliefs down our throats, Congress should be trying their best to protect young women.
The proposed cuts to WIC and Planned Parenthood transport the country back a century in terms of progress. In the past, the federal government denied basic health services to poor people using the abhorrent justification of Social Darwinism, which applies the biological process of “survival of the fittest” that occurs over the course of millions of years to daily life, allowing people to view poverty as a natural product of the weaker members of our species rather than a socio-economic circumstance. We believe the government’s priority should be to protect the people and help them, rather than putting the dollar ahead.