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Where’s My Checklist?

July 29, 2010

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about funding.  There’s so much to think about. 

The New York State budget is now 120 days late, which means that County governments and non-profits are losing money.  Without a budget, family planning centers like Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic will not get paid.  In some communities, these centers are the only places people receive basic health care like birth control, cancer screenings, and prenatal care.  If a budget isn’t passed immediately, some health centers will run out of money to pay for staff, and will have to start turning patients away and closing their doors.  You can take action to hold your Senator accountable. 

In New Jersey, a budget has been passed but it excludes all funding for family planning.  The legislature’s separate provision to fund family planning has been vetoed.  This means the state is missing out on an opportunity to save almost $4 for every dollar spent to help women who want to access low-cost contraception to avoid pregnancies they don’t want to have.  It also means that when the state elected conservative Chris Christie as governor in 2009, he delivered on his promise to all the anti-choice groups not to fund organizations like Planned Parenthood.  This is despite the fact that, nationwide, 97% of what Planned Parenthood does is basic, preventive care.  If you live in New Jersey, you can take action to urge the legislature to override the veto. 

Nationally, the health care reform debate somehow turned into a referendum on whether taxpayer dollars should be spent on abortion.  We beat back the Stupak attack, but he and those who support him are continuing to offer amendments just like it to spending bills.  And we didn’t beat back Nelson, a provision that is so paranoid about federal tax dollars coming close to touching abortion that it requires the invention of a brand new accounting system to track even private dollars spent on insurance covering abortion.  (For more info about the Stupak and Nelson provisions, see plannedparenthoodaction.org.)   Now even the Obama administration has said it will not provide insurance coverage of abortions, even in cases where a woman’s health is at risk, for women who are most likely to have their health at risk – in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans, or temporary pools to insure high-risk individuals before the insurance exchanges come online in 2014. 

I’m waiting for a tax form that has a check-list of how I want my tax dollars spent – yes, I do want them to cover abortion and family planning services for women and men who can’t otherwise afford them.  And no, I don’t want them funding failed abstinence-only programs that only reinforce gender stereotypes and ignore the realities of young people who have already been sexually active or never want to (or will not be allowed to) get married.  Oh, and I’d like to make receipt of payment contingent on work performed – as in, having a legislature that completes a budget on time.

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