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A Widening Hole in the Safety Net for MO Women and Children

WIC provides supplemental foods, health care referral, breast feeding support to women and babies.  Courtesy of:
WIC provides supplemental foods, health care referral, breast feeding support to women and babies. Courtesy of:
March 11, 2013

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - As the $85 billion in automatic budget cuts begin to take effect, family advocate groups warn that those cuts will tear a wider hole in the safety net for low-income women in Missouri and around the nation. The Center on Budget Policy and Priorities estimated that nearly 750,000 women and children will lose nutritional support that has been provided by the WIC program. Planned Parenthood said women are losing federally funded preventive health and family planning services. And AARP warned that millions of senior women and men will lose Meals on Wheels.

Missouri National Organization for Women (NOW) President Jamie Tomek said it's hard for her to believe that Congress is doing nothing about these cuts.

"I don't think they're showing the compassion they need to show," she said.

Paula Gianino, president of Planned Parenthood, St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said her concern is the women who will lose reproductive health care. The sequester takes $15 million from Title X family planning programs, on top of $23 million that had already been cut over the last two years. Historically, members of both parties have seen family planning as a way to save money, not as an expense to cut, Gianino pointed out.

"In fact, the members of Congress who led the way the first time our federal government ever invested in family planning for women were Republicans George Bush Senior and Richard Nixon," she said.

Gianino called the cuts "irresponsible" and noted that for every $1 invested in family planning, $4 is saved. Republican leaders have accused the Democrats of exaggerating the seriousness of the automatic cuts. However, the National Organization for Women said, balancing the budget on the backs of the poor is immoral. NOW called on Congress to instead invest in programs that help get people back to work.

More information is available at

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - MO