Family Planning Is Underfunded, and Roe Is About to Become History

Written by Brian Dixon, Senior Vice President for Governmental and Political Affairs | Published: June 21, 2022

Farewell to Stacie Murphy

The author of this column for the past 15 years has moved on to a new chapter in her career. Stacie Murphy started working at Population Connection as a Government Relations Fellow in 2007; by the time she left, in April, she had served as Director of Government Relations for several years.

Stacie was arguably our best staff writer, a fantastically engaging public speaker, an effective lobbyist on Capitol Hill and with administration officials, and a crucial resource to our staff, members, and supporters for information about policies related to reproductive health and rights. She has left a big hole in our advocacy department that will not be easy to fill.

We wish Stacie all the best in her new position at Nathan Associates, an international economic and analytics consulting firm in Arlington, Virginia. And we are rooting for the success of her newly published novel, The Unquiet Dead, a sequel to her first book, A Deadly Fortune, published in 2021.

White House Releases 2023 Budget Proposal

On March 28, the White House released President Biden’s proposal for the Fiscal Year 2023 federal budget. The proposal includes small increases in funding for family planning programs in the United States and around the world. Like his first budget proposal a year ago, it again fails to recognize the enormous gap between the need for services and the resources available to meet that need.

On the global side, the President is requesting overall funding of $653 million—a $45.5 million increase (7.5 percent) over the level approved for 2022. Of that total, $56 million is for a dedicated contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). While an important step forward, this increase remains far below the funds needed. There are at least 218 million women in the developing world who want to delay or prevent pregnancy but have an unmet need for contraceptives. The failure to meet this need undermines efforts to address climate change, protect natural resources, improve public health, prevent future pandemics, ease poverty, and promote economic security especially for girls and women.

United States support for international family planning programs peaked in 2010 under President Obama, at $715 million. Since that time, funding plummeted to $607.5 million where it has stagnated. Had funding simply kept pace with inflation since 2010, we would be supporting these programs to the tune of nearly $943 million—still only about half the needed investment of $1.74 billion in order to address the existing unmet need.

On the domestic side, the White House is proposing a more robust increase. The President’s proposal calls for a $400 million investment in the Title X domestic family planning program. That’s an increase of $113.5 million over the current $286.5 million—a level that has remained stagnant for eight years. President Biden, for the second consecutive year, also proposes the elimination of the infamous Hyde Amendment that has denied needed safe abortion care to low-income Americans for more than 40 years.

Congress will begin its annual appropriations process in the coming weeks, and we’ll be working with leaders in the House and Senate to increase the funding provided to these crucial programs across the United States and around the world.

Leaked Supreme Court Opinion Shows the End of Roe

On the evening of May 2, Washington was rocked by an unprecedented leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, the decision that guaranteed the right to abortion in the United States. While some conservatives want to focus attention on the fact that the draft was leaked, the real story here is the loss of basic reproductive freedoms now facing people throughout the United States.

Supporters of abortion rights feared such a result when Mitch McConnell refused to even consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in 2016 and then jammed through Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch early in 2017. And again when McConnell refused to even consider a credible accusation of sexual assault and rushed through the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. And yet again when he rushed the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett just days before the election that turned out of office the president who nominated her and the McConnell-led majority that confirmed her.

Population Connection and its sister organization, Population Connection Action Fund, joined other advocates and supporters on the steps of the Supreme Court the day after the leak to protest the end of Roe. We also worked to help turn out supporters to protest at county and municipal courthouses across the country. We believe that abortion rights are human rights, and we are committed to fighting to guarantee those rights to people everywhere.

Senate Republicans Block Bill to Enshrine Abortion Rights in Law

In the aftermath of the draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, the Senate swiftly took up an updated version of the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) to codify the Roe ruling in federal law. WHPA prevents state governments from limiting health care workers from providing safe abortion care and bars states from requiring the provision of inaccurate medical information, unnecessary procedures such as invasive ultrasounds, and unnecessary credentialing or building standards that are not applied to other low-risk medical procedures.

The bill was defeated on a procedural motion by a vote of 49-51. All Democrats except Sen. Joe Manchin (WV) voted to advance the bill, and the Republicans voted unanimously to kill it. A similar bill was defeated on a procedural vote in February after the House had passed it.

House Democrats Push for Increased Investment in Family Planning

On April 27, 157 members of the House—all Democrats—sent a letter to leaders of the Appropriations Committee urging that international family planning programs be funded at “no less than $1.27 billion” in the 2023 State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. The letter was spearheaded by longtime champions of family planning Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Karen Bass (D-CA), Ami Bera (D-CA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). They and their colleagues make the forceful case that investments in family planning are central to achieving other important public health, development, humanitarian, and foreign policy goals. The letter also calls for prioritizing support for UNFPA and for the inclusion of the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act to prevent a future president from reinstating the odious Global Gag Rule.

The Appropriations Committee is in the early stages of drafting the annual funding bill, and we expect action sometime in the summer.