What is Title X?
The Title X Family Planning Program was enacted in 1970 as Title X of the Public Health Service Act. This program is designed to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies, and information to all who need and want them. By law, priority is given to people from low-income families. In 2017, Congress appropriated over $280 million to Title X. Title X money is federally prohibited to provide abortion services.
In Nebraska, these federal dollars are granted to the Nebraska Reproductive Health Division of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. It trickles down to sub-recipients who include OneWorld Community Health Center, Midtown Health Clinic, Charles Drew Health Center, and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. Nebraska AIDS Project partners with many of these agencies directly through the Adolescent Health Project in Omaha. Others partner through confirmatory HIV testing processes.
In 2016, 1,163,883 confidential HIV tests were provided under Title X funding. Of the tests performed, 2,824 were positive for HIV.
So what’s the problem?
LB944, introduced by Speaker Jim Scheer at the request of Governor Pete Ricketts, is the appropriations bill to balance Nebraska’s state budget. Included in this bill is a provision about how Title X funds can be used.
“None of the funds disbursed under such program [Title X] shall be paid or granted to an organization that performs, assists with the performance of, provides directive counseling in favor of, or refers for abortion” (p. 45-46).
However, Title X federal requirements state that providers must refer for services, including abortion.
“Projects must offer pregnant women the opportunity to be provide information and counseling regarding each of the following options: Prenatal care and delivery; infant care, foster care, or adoptions; and pregnancy termination. If requested to provide such information and counseling, provide neutral, factual information and nondirective counseling on each of the options, and referral upon request” (p. 25).
This language puts all Title X health centers at risk.
Not only does this proposal fail to balance the state budget – these are federal dollars rather than state dollars – it removes access to Title X and limits our most vulnerable in society from getting the healthcare they need, including confidential HIV testing. For this reason, NAP opposes the provision currently found in LB944 regarding Title X Funding.
What can you do?
Contact your senator. Give them a phone call, send a letter, or even write an email.
Locate your senator here.
Write a letter to the editor.
Here’s a few tips:
-Keep it short and on topic
-Make sure it’s legible
-Include your contact information
Testify at a hearing.
The unicameral offers some information about how to testify.
Lacie Tewes is the Prevention & Support Services Supervisor for Nebraska AIDS Project in Lincoln.