The fiscal 2023 omnibus spending bill lawmakers released early Tuesday morning keeps funding flat for the Title X family planning program at $286.5 million for the ninth year in a row, a blow to reproductive health groups that had argued the fall of Roe v. Wade warranted a substantial increase.
NARAL, Planned Parenthood and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association blasted the decision.
“At a time of great crisis for reproductive health in this country, Congress has again utterly failed to safeguard access to the birth control and sexual health services made possible by the nation’s family planning program,” said Clare Coleman, the president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. “Without those critical resources, agencies will be forced to shorten hours, lay off staff, and even close their doors, leaving patients without access.”
Title X clinics around the country provide free and discounted contraception, STD testing and other services for millions of low-income people. The groups argue more people than ever need those services now that abortion is banned in a quarter of states and STD rates are at record highs.
“Congress had a clear directive and they failed to deliver,” said Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson. “At a time when Roe v. Wade has been overturned and health care access is under increasing threat, this bill fails to meet the moment.”
HELP Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) attributed the party’s failure to boost Title X funding to “Republicans’ extreme position on reproductive rights” and said she’ll keep fighting for more money for the program next year.
“Making sure people can get birth control and cancer screenings simply shouldn’t be controversial,” she said.
As expected, the omnibus also maintains the Hyde amendment, the decadesold rider banning federal funding for abortion, as well as several other longstanding restrictions on government health insurance covering the procedure. Democrats vowed to repeal these policies after Roe was overturned but were blocked by unanimous GOP opposition as well as dissent from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and other conservative Democrats.
Progressive health groups noted that with Republicans taking control of the House in 2023 this omnibus was the last chance for the foreseeable future to boost family planning funding and repeal riders like Hyde.