Funds must be kept for family planning

As students at UW-Whitewater, we are fortunate to have excellent family planning services available to aid us in times of need.

Graphic by Seth Anderson

However, the recently passed budget-repair bill will affect funding for family planning services offered to men and women with low to moderate incomes.

Gov. Scott Walker’s budget- repair bill proposes eliminating the Title V Maternal and Child Health program, which is a public health program that receives federal, state and local funds to provide grants to family planning services like those provided by University Health & Counseling Services.

Though the state is in a difficult financial situation, cutting money from family planning services is far from a reasonable solution.

Of the programs $3.4 million budget this fiscal year, $1.5 million comes from the federal government. This means nearly 45 percent of the budget will be eliminated by Gov. Walker’s proposal.

A state study found the program has saved hundreds of millions of dollars by preventing unplanned pregnancies that would have been paid for by state health programs.

If the state is attempting to cut costs, cutting a program that saves millions of dollars is not the place to start.

In a 2010 report from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, it was estimated that more than 640,000 Wisconsin women aged 13-44 are in need of contraceptive services.

Though Walker intends to keep a state program providing contraceptives and health services to 50,000 women, the proposed cut will still affect the nearly 600,000 women still in need of contraceptive services.

This will also greatly affect the services provided by UHCS.

As part of Family Planning Only Services, UHCS offers contraceptives and related reproductive health services to men and women unable to afford them.

Ruth Swisher, director of health services at UHCS, said family planning services is a popular program at UW-Whitewater and a lot of students make use of the services.

To qualify for FPOS, applicants must be at least 15-years-old, a U.S. citizen, fall below a monthly income limit of $2,707 for a one-person household, $3,642 for two, and $4,577 for three. Applicants must also not receive funding from state programs.

If approved, students can also receive contraceptives, STD treatment and testing, and pregnancy testing at no cost.
But contraceptives are only one part of pregnancy prevention and reproductive health.

Not all students at UW-Whitewater are sexually active, though there are some who are and affordability can often be an issue.

By cutting funding for planned parenthood programs, the state is essentially saying students can continue to have sex, but if they can’t afford to do it safely and responsibly, they are on their own.

Whether sexual activity among college students is morally right or wrong should be the least of our concerns.

Limiting services providing contraceptives to not only prevent pregnancy but also protect against STDs will not stop students.

With sex being so prevalent in today’s society, it’s important students have the tools and services to practice a safe sexual lifestyle.

Sexually active students will remain sexually active and our state government should not deprive them of the full pallet of family planning services provided to protect them.

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