Omnibus Appropriations Bill Advances Reproductive Health Care

March 11, 2009 12:00 am

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Legislation Reduces Funding For Failed Abstinence-Only Programs

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WASHINGTON –Within 24 hours, the United States Senate passed and President Obama signed into law an appropriations bill that, as part of funding for the federal government for fiscal year 2009, advances reproductive health care for women and reduces funding for abstinence-only programs.

The Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act restores eligibility for affordable birth control to safety-net providers and college and university health clinics. The 2005 Deficit Reduction Act had brought an end to the decades-old practice of allowing pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily offer low-cost drugs to low-income providers as well as college and university health clinics. As a result, low-income patients and college students have seen the price of birth control pills rise from $5-$10 to $40-$50 per pack.

“Access to contraceptives advances women’s health and consequently their equality,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Armed with better access to basic reproductive care, women can make more informed choices about when to become parents. In these tough economic times, improving access to reproductive health care is especially important to women and their families.”

In addition to improving access to affordable birth control, the Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill finally reduces funding for ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, cutting funding for the Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) program by $14 million. Despite overwhelming evidence that abstinence-only programs do not work, Congress has spent more than a billion taxpayer dollars over the last decade to support these programs.

“A reduction in funding for abstinence-only programs is good, but clearly not enough,” said Vania Leveille, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Abstinence-only programs are not based on science or good public health policy. The federal government should not support these programs that censor information, reinforce gender stereotypes, marginalize gay and lesbian youth, and provide inaccurate and misleading information. We appreciate this important step in the right direction, but it’s time for Congress to eliminate funding for these programs altogether.”

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