The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) recently issued a report on public policy for federal funding of contraceptives and family planning services. The study analyzes the impact of funding on family planning and contraception availability in the United States, and reveals some interesting findings.
Federal and state government programs such as Medicaid and Title X have played a large role in providing family planning services and supplies for low-income Americans. Since the mid-1990s, federal family planning funding has increased three-fold, with the federal government and the states spending $1.26 billion on reversible contraception services in 2001. These trends can be misleading, however, as recent funding is largely concentrated in a few states, whereas overall funding has actually declined in 29 states.
Another point noted in the study was the large presence of Medicaid in public spending on contraceptives. AGI found that Medicaid accounted for 80% of new public spending on contraceptive services since the mid-1990s. During that time, many states expanded their income eligibility requirements for family planning services. Another large contributor to government spending on contraceptives is Title X. This program derives from the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970 and is the only federal program dedicated entirely to family planning. Title X accounts for 15% of federal funding for contraceptive services.
Despite the success of these programs, conservatives have been launching attacks against public funding for family planning since the Reagan era. Such attacks come from anti-family planning grassroots movements and from conservatives’ desire to cut costs in government spending. In particular, conservatives target Medicaid, which costs the government roughly $300 billion annually. Title X is also under attack, as it is seen as an expense that can be spared. Cutting Medicaid and Title X would have disastrous affects for women who rely on its family planning services and supplies. Definitely check out the AGI study to read more about the possible consequences for women and families of cutting these programs.