Republicans, in control the House of Representatives, successfully passed a budget proposal over the weekend that includes elimination of $327 million in funding for Title X, a grant program that offers counseling, education and health services for low-income Americans.
But the plan seems less about cutting costs and more about conservatives' long-held opposition to abortion, especially if it's supported by taxpayers. Problem is, Title X does not fund abortion -- it pays for education, contraception and reproductive health services that are so vital to low-income women and men.
As a result, this move could actually lead to an increase in unwanted, unplanned pregnancies, and those that are clinically dangerous -- for mothers and their unborn.
That's particularly troubling for us in Kern County, home of the nation's highest teen birthrate and a high number of births among very low-income mothers. According to a 2010 report by the Public Health Institute, the estimated taxpayer cost associated with teen births in Kern was $50 million; the societal cost was estimated at $200 million.
According to a 2009 state report, Kern had the highest number of chlamydia cases in California. In the same report, Kern was listed fourth in gonorrhea infections.
No one can offer a credible argument against the benefits of imparting reproductive health information. Cancer screening, treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted disease, diagnosis and counseling are all vital services supported by Title X. To do away with its funding is to turn our backs on some of society's most at-risk people: Young, impoverished mothers and their babies.