Democrats are criticizing House Republicans for cutting funding for contraception programs in their new spending bill, despite the threat of the Zika virus.
Democrats are pointing to the elimination of $287 million in funds for family planning and contraception, through a program known as Title X, as well as a cut of $101 million to teen pregnancy prevention programs.
“With women and families wondering when this Republican-controlled Congress is finally going to act on the Zika virus, it’s extremely disappointing to see House Republicans doubling down on harmful policies that would restrict women’s access to health care they need,” Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayUnder pressure, Democrats cut back spending Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised Senate Democrats ditch Hyde amendment for first time in decades MORE (D-Wash.), the Senate’s top Democrat on health spending, said in a statement.
“We are in the middle of a public health emergency, and it’s well past time for Republicans to put their extreme politics aside and stop letting the Tea Party get in the way of women’s health care,” she added.
Republicans have proposed eliminating Title X funding in previous years’ spending bills as well.
The path forward for any of the appropriations bills is in doubt, given that there is already talk of a continuing resolution to keep this year’s funding levels going past the Sept. 30 deadline.
But reacting to the Republicans’ proposal on Wednesday, Democrats argue that it is especially important to provide funding for contraception and family planning programs given the potential for Zika to cause serious birth defects in children.
Planned Parenthood is a major recipient of Title X funding, which is aimed at helping low-income people. In addition, Democrats have blocked a Republican Zika funding bill, in part because it would restrict money away from Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood on Wednesday also denounced the proposal from House Republicans.
"Today’s budget bill is shameful and exposes the Republican leadership’s targeted agenda against family planning providers like Planned Parenthood, despite their absolutely critical role in limiting the damaging effects of Zika virus and continuing to provide access to reproductive health services for those most in need,” Dana Singiser, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs at Planned Parenthood, said in a statement.