U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, today joined a group of his colleagues in introducing a bill that would protect access to critical reproductive health care services, such as birth control and cancer screenings. The Expanding Access to Family Planning Act will provide a consistent and strong source of funding for the Title X Family Planning Program, which Sen. Menendez has long championed.
“This bill will ensure women in New Jersey and across the country have access to the family planning and reproductive health services they deserve regardless of their ability to pay,” said Menendez. “Reproductive rights are under attack by Republicans at all levels of government in every state. I vow to do all I can to protect access to the care and services women and their families need as well as the freedom to make their own health care decisions.”
The Title X Family Planning Program is the only federal program dedicated to providing comprehensive family planning and preventive health services. Hundreds of thousands of Americans rely on the program for essential health care. In 2020 alone, over 1.5 million patients received family planning services through Title X. Title X is funded through the annual appropriations process, which subjects the program to an unpredictable funding stream that is insufficient to meet the national need.
The Expanding Access to Family Planning Act would:
- Provide $500 million in mandatory funding for Title X services for each of the next 10 fiscal years. This is well above the $286 million the program received in FY2022.
- Deliver $50 million in mandatory funding for clinic construction, renovation, and related infrastructure enhancements for each of the next 10 fiscal years.
- Reinstate regulations prohibiting discrimination of providers who deliver Title X services.
- Require that pregnancy counseling include information about prenatal care and delivery, infant care, foster care, adoption, and pregnancy termination, unless a patient does not have any interest in receiving information about an option.
In 2019, the Trump Administration implemented a gag rule prohibiting providers who receive Title X funds from informing patients about the full range of reproductive health care options available to them, including abortion. Despite the Title X program’s 50 years of bipartisan support, the Trump Administration’s gag rule slashed the Title X-funded health care network’s capacity, compromising the health care of millions patients nationwide—disproportionately women of color—who rely on Title X health centers.
Sen. Menendez railed against Senate Republicans when they voted to allow states to withhold Title X federal funds for family planning health centers. He blasted the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold the Trump Administration’s rule revamping the Title X program. Sen. Menendez has urged the Biden Administration to fully restore funding to Title X.
The bill is endorsed by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Catholics for Choice, the National Partnership for Women & Families, Power to Decide, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Council of Jewish Women, URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, ACLU, Advocates for Youth, National Women’s Law Center, and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The bill is also cosponsored by Sens. Tine Smith (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Angus King (I-Maine), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
A copy of the bill can be found here.