OCTOBER 06, 2008
California’s congressional delegation is asking the federal government to reverse its new policy created to deny illegal immigrants free, taxpayer-financed birth control and family planning services long offered in the state.
For nearly a decade California has spent hundreds of millions of dollars a year to provide poor residents with free birth control and other family planning services at clinics throughout the state. Nearly 2 million people benefit annually from the mostly federally funded Family Planning Access Care and Treatment Program (Family PACT), many of them illegal immigrants.
Since 2004 the federal government has objected to providing the public service to California’s vast illegal immigrant population and last month it warned state officials that they must determine the immigration status of every participant or lose all federal funding. That would translate into a $315 million loss of federal funds for the Golden State, which contributes about a $1 million to the family planning program.
In a letter to the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, California’s 34 representatives in the U.S. House (including Speaker Nancy Pelosi), point out that the new policy will create significant barriers to enrolling women and will require timely and costly procedures that the state cannot meet.
The letter also reminds the feds that Family PACT has helped avoid hundreds of thousands of pregnancies that saved the federal and state governments nearly half a billion dollars. Therefore, the legislators write, continuation of the program under its current form (of serving illegal immigrants) will mean ongoing savings for the federal government as well as California.
Family PACT also provides prenatal care for uninsured pregnant women and education on sexually transmitted diseases for men, women and even teens. Participants also receive guidance and counseling on choosing a method of birth control as well as emergency contraceptive pills. U.S. taxpayers have been picking up the bill since 1999 and state lawmakers want the free ride to continue.
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