by Melissa Ryan, Tue Jul 31, 2007 at 06:27:25 PM EDT
Big news on the family planning front today. Representatives Rosa Delauro (D-CT) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) got the House to include $647 million for family planning and pregnancy prevention into the Appropriations bill. The measure is titled: "Reducing the Need for Abortions Initiative." I hate, hate, hate how this is being framed but I can't help being excited at how the money will be spent. It's the biggest shift on this front since Bush came to power.
Here are the changes specific to contraception from Tim Ryan's press release:
Access to contraceptive information and services is an important element of preventing pregnancy. In addition to several funding increases for programs that increase access to contraceptives, the bill also contains provisions that seek to reduce teen pregnancy
-The first increase in more than 6 years for the Title X family planning program,
-Teen Pregnancy Prevention Grants - a new Program at CDC - to support medically accurate, age-appropriate approaches to preventing teen pregnancies that include information about both abstinence and contraception, including the dissemination of science-based tools and strategies to prevent HIV, STD, and teen pregnancy.
21 Republicans crossed party lines to vote in favor of the new funding. Now they can go back to their districts and tell constituents that they voted for legislation that will help "reduce abortions." But the real news here is the shift on sex ed and funding for Title X. Both programs have been nearly choked to death under the Bush administration. This is a small step in the right direction.
Meanwhile anti-choicers still aren't happy...
From an article in the Hartford Courant:
Some groups, however, see the new effort as little more than hiding a bid to keep abortion legal.
Douglas Johnson, legislative director of National Right to Life, called the DeLauro-Ryan measure "a grab bag of existing programs. They're not trying to change policy. They're trying to change perception."
I don't like the framing. It's wonderful to see money going back into Title X and sex ed, and I can't complain about the other provisions. But I dislike the idea that adequate funding of these programs and grants for comprehensive sex ed are only important because they will reduce the number of abortions.
Anti-choicers aren't buying into it anyway. Again, they dislike sex ed and access to contraception as much as they dislike abortion. Will this framing work with swing voters who have mixed feelings about abortion? Perhaps, but I think it's more likely that talking about prevention this way will actually water down the entire debate about reproductive freedom.