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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 8, 2000
                      RADIO ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT
                               TO THE NATION

The Oval Office

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. January is the time of year when many of us make New Year's resolutions, and work hard to keep them. Today, I want to talk about steps we're taking to keep a resolution of mine -- making sure women and men get the health care they need to have strong children and healthy families.

First, our administration has worked hard to make sure all women have access to prenatal care. We know when women get medical attention before a baby is born, that child is much more likely to be born healthy. And good health is the most precious gift we can offer a child or a family.

Second, we worked with Congress to make sure that every woman covered by federal government health insurance has reproductive health care coverage -- including prescription contraceptives. That was a significant step for more than a million American women, and it set a standard for insurance coverage around the country.

Third, when I took office, we faced an epidemic of teen pregnancy -- children having children. Over the last seven years, we have reached out to community groups, schools and health professionals working in an amazing network of American citizens from all walks of life. And, together, the American people have cut teen pregnancy by 15 percent.

Fourth, we've made a broad range of family planning and sex education programs more widely available for all Americans. And by making sure women have family planning choices, we are helping to make abortion more rare.

Today I am glad to announce we will be increasing funds for family planning and reproductive health care by $35 million next year. My budget for 2001 will include $274 million in grants for clinics and community-based health services that reach more than 5 million women and families.

That money will help make contraceptives available, and keep them affordable. It will fund counseling for teenagers, and support educational programs that encourage young people to postpone sexual activity. It will help more than 4,600 clinics screen for cancer, AIDS and other diseases. And it will fund partnerships with community organizations and health care professionals who are reaching out to teenagers and others at risk.

These services make a critical difference in people's lives. They help working women who otherwise could not afford medical tests that may save their lives. They help AIDS patients who desperately need counseling and assistance. They provide support and information to young people who may not know the basics of caring for a newborn child. They give women access to the full range of reproductive health care -- before and during pregnancy. It's in the interest of every American that no one miss out on this kind of care -- and that no child miss the chance for a healthy start.

America has also been a leader in providing health and family planning assistance for women and families in developing countries. We do this because it's right, and because it will help build the kind of world we want for our own children.

Around the world, 150 million women would like to choose the timing of their pregnancies, but have no access to family planning of any kind. In the developing world, the complications of pregnancy kill more than one woman every single minute, because so many lack the most basic health care. These are personal tragedies, and they have profound consequences for families and communities. Where children are born healthy, and mothers and families gain power over their lives, communities are stronger. Economic progress is faster. And the future is brighter for everyone.

My budget for 2001 will increase funding for international family planning by almost $170 million. I am asking Congress to support these funds, and to provide them without restrictions that hamper the work of family planning organizations, and even bar them from discussing or debating reproductive health policies.

We all agree that we want to save lives, help women and children stay healthy and empower families to take responsibility for their own choices. Supporting reproductive health and family planning is one of the very best ways to do that. We know it works. At home and abroad, we don't have a woman's life -- or a child's healthy start -- to waste.

Thanks for listening.