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Attempts at undermining preventive healthcare have turned into a bitter fight. (Courtesy Image/Logo)

Attempts at undermining preventive healthcare by Republicans opposed to President Barack Obama’s universal healthcare and Planned Parenthood have turned into a bitter fight with the nation’s most vulnerable in the middle.

The recent attempt to defund Planned Parenthood just days before Christmas with H.R. 3762: Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015 was cut down by executive veto – only to be resurrected by states such as Texas at the turn of the calendar as retaliatory cuts to other health programs.

In Texas, for instance, the Department of State Health Services announced that at the start of 2016 it would cut off about $600,000 in state funding for HIV prevention services provided by Planned Parenthood – that included more than 138,000 HIV tests, HIV and STI counseling, and education programs in jails, nightclubs, and on college campuses.

U.S. Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) issued a statement immediately following the bill’s introduction, which passed by a House vote of 240-181, denouncing the bill as irresponsible. “Just six days into the New Year, Republicans picked right up where they left off in 2015 with this damaging Reconciliation bill,” Edwards said in a written statement.  “The vote exemplifies the definition of insanity.”

The House Republicans have made 62 attempts to repeal or dismantle the Affordable Care Act and 11 attempts to defund Planned Parenthood since its inception, according to Edwards. All of them have failed. “This Republican obsession with attacking access to health care for women and working families is outrageous and unacceptable, “she said.

Executives at Unity Healthcare, one of the largest providers of services for the city’s low-income residents, told the AFRO that Title X funding ensures smooth service provision even amid Planned Parenthood cuts.

“Unity is the Title X grantee for the District of Columbia. While we do not have a Planned Parenthood affiliate currently as a Title X sub-recipient, Unity has multiple funding sources for the reproductive health services we provide including the Federal 330 grant, Title X grant from the Office of Population Affairs, private foundation funding, and insurance reimbursement,” Jennifer Vollett-Krech, Unity’s family planning nurse coordinator said.  “Federal funding of the Title X program has remained flat for many years despite evidence of the cost-effectiveness of the program.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services.

April Newberry, a Ward 6 college student, who relies on both Unity and Planned Parenthood for screening services said she is troubled by Republican efforts to challenge women’s rights and weary that others states could follow Texas’ example. “There are such high stakes for these middle-aged white men to control when and how women and girls reproduce, but why strip HIV testing because your plan was vetoed? This is a lot of political posturing with potentially deadly consequences for the mostly Black women clients,” Newberry said.

ssherman@afro.com