ACLU Hails Introduction of Budget Amendment That Would Increase Funding for Pregnancy Prevention

March 16, 2005 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union hailed a budget amendment introduced today in the Senate that would increase funding to public health programs aimed at preventing unintended pregnancies.

“”This commonsense amendment is long overdue,”” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “”Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle should put political differences aside and get behind this amendment.””

The budget amendment introduced by Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) would provide an additional $100 million in public health funding to support programs that require coverage for prescription contraceptives in otherwise comprehensive drug benefit plans; promote awareness of emergency contraception; fund medically accurate programs to reduce teen pregnancy; and increase family planning services for low-income women.

Each year nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, resulting in nearly 1.5 million abortions. These statistics cannot be reduced without taking real steps to help prevent unplanned pregnancy. All of the programs in this amendment work toward this goal, said the ACLU.

“”Pregnancy prevention is everyone’s issue,”” Murphy said. “”And yet the federal government continues to pour money into unproven abstinence-only sex education programs and to put up roadblocks to contraceptive access. It is time to reverse course and put prevention first.””

Earlier this year, ignoring the advice of medical experts and major medical groups, the Food and Drug Administration indefinitely delayed a decision whether to make emergency contraception available to women 16 and older without a prescription. Likewise, in its recently released protocols for treating sexual assault victims, the Department of Justice failed to include information about pregnancy prevention and emergency contraception. Today’s amendment is the antidote to these and other missed opportunities to prevent unintended pregnancy and improve America’s health, the ACLU said.

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