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Family Planning ‘Misunderstanding’ Cleared Up

August 16, 2011

HAMILTON, Mont. - It isn't just about birth control. That point has been made to Ravalli County Commissioners, who were considering shutting down the long-running county family planning program, by turning away $39,000 in federal funding. State legislators debated some of the same points earlier this year.

Alysha Goheen Jannotta, director of Montana Women Vote, says the discussion seems to center only on contraceptives, until residents speak up about what family planning health care really is.

"Cancer screenings, STD testing, counseling, nutrition education: there's lots of pieces to these programs that really improve the public health of our communities."

Goheen Jannotta says misunderstandings about family planning are also brewing in other counties, and she wants to set the record straight.

"These programs serve men and women, but the majority of people utilizing those services are women. Those annual exams that they get there might be the only time they see a health care provider through the year."

She says 465 people in Ravalli County use the program, 88 percent are uninsured, and 70 percent live below the poverty line, although most work.

Commissioners did decide, on a 3-2 vote, to accept funding for another year under what is called a Title X block grant.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT