It’s no secret that conservatives dislike the Title X program mostly because part of the funds go to Planned Parenthood, and even though it is prohibited to use any funds for abortions, it remains a thorn in the conservative’s side. Well...they may be having the last laugh soon because a senior Trump health official, Valeria Huber, gets to be the final decision maker on where the federal family planning funds go.
Previously, the decision making was done by a group of officials, but now it falls to one person. Huber, the acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs, is all about abstinence or as she likes to call it “sexual risk avoidance.” Before working for the Trump administration, she was the CEO of Ascend, a national organization that teaches abstinence to teens.
Naturally, this shift has women’s health advocates just a tad bit worried that money will only be given to abstinence-only education groups, and not given to groups that provide contraception. “This is unprecedented, and has dangerous implications. We’re talking about a program that 4 million people rely on for basic reproductive health care--or in many cases, their only form of health care. Now is not the time to play politics with people’s lives--but that’s exactly what the Trump-Pence administration is doing,” said Kashif Syed, senior analyst at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Putting Huber at the helm is just the latest move in the shift. The Trump administration has already eliminated funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, promoted abstinence education while downplaying FDA-approved forms of contraception as a viable option, and ended the requirement that health plans cover birth control.
Now, when programs apply for Title X funding, the applications go to Huber for approval, and although she told reporters that Planned Parenthood was welcome to apply, she qualified that with “we think it’s really important to make some meaningful changes to extend the coverage of the program.”
Things are looking bleak for women, especially low-income women, in America right now.