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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                     (Shepherdstown, West Virginia)
For Immediate Release                                    January 8, 2000

                               AMERICAN WOMEN

Today, in his weekly radio address, President Clinton will unveil a new $35 million budget initiative to ensure access to safe, high-quality family planning services for all Americans. This new investment represents a 15 percent increase over FY 2000 funding levels and will be used to: improve access to contraceptive counseling and services; provide affordable contraceptive services; and develop partnerships with community-based providers to conduct outreach to adolescents and other high-risk populations. Funds will also help improve the delivery of comprehensive reproductive health services and provide education and screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, and cancer. The President today will also highlight a new investment of $169 million, a 45 percent increase over last year's funding level, to assist family planning efforts overseas.

MILLIONS OF AMERICAN WOMEN NEED FAMILY PLANNING SERVICES. The Administration has made tremendous progress in reducing unwanted pregnancies and preventing unnecessary abortions. Teenage birth rates are down, teenage pregnancy rates have fallen to their lowest level in 20 years, and teenage sexual activity is also declining. But more must be done:

Over three million unintended pregnancies every year. The United States has one of the highest rates of both unintended and teenage pregnancy among Western nations. Women who use no contraceptives account for almost half of these pregnancies. Eight in 10 teen pregnancies are not intended. Unintended pregnancies among women who do not use contraception result in 1.4 million abortions annually, as well as 1.1 million unwanted births.

Women who do not use birth control often face economic barriers to services. Lack of access is a central reason why many women do not use birth control. Some cannot afford birth control methods on an ongoing basis; 15 percent of women of childbearing age (15 to 44) live in poverty, and one in six have no Medicaid or private insurance.

NEW STEPS WILL HELP PROVIDE SAFE, EFFECTIVE FAMILY PLANNING SERVICES FOR AMERICAN WOMEN. The initiative announced today reaffirms the Clinton-Gore Administration's commitment to expanding and enhancing the quality of reproductive health services for all Americans. In his radio address, President Clinton will:

Unveil the largest dollar increase in family planning services in over two decades. The FY 2001 budget includes $274 million for family planning, a $35 million increase, and the largest dollar increase in over two decades. These grants fund family planning clinics that provide reproductive health services and care to nearly five million women. The funds will help prevent over a million unintended pregnancies each year by:

Improving the delivery of comprehensive reproductive health services. A nationwide network of over 4,600 clinics will use these new funds to provide the full range of reproductive health services, including routine gynecological care; STD and cancer screening and prevention; and HIV/AIDS prevention, education and counseling.

Providing a wide range of contraceptive methods. This initiative will provide a wide range of contraceptives to all clients desiring such services. Services are provided on a sliding fee scale or at no cost to persons below poverty in order to eliminate financial barriers to care.

Reaching high-risk and hard-to-reach populations. Funds will be used to provide safe and effective family planning services to individuals at risk or those who are hard to reach. For example, grantees will work with: HIV/AIDS organizations to discuss safe sexual practices; community-based organizations that serve men to provide reproductive health education and services; and substance abusers, homeless, and the incarcerated.

Preventing teenage pregnancy. Community-based education programs will encourage adolescents to postpone sexual activity and increase the accessibility of contraceptive counseling and services for teens who already may be sexually active.

Ensure that federal employees have access to comprehensive family planning services. The FY 2001 budget continues to ensure that the federal government leads the way as a model health plan by assuring that federal employees and their families participating in the 300 Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) have access to contraceptive coverage. This policy provides coverage to over 1.2 million women of childbearing age and reduces unwanted pregnancies by requiring most FEHB plans to offer the full range of contraceptive services. Before this requirement, only 19 percent of federal health plans covered prescription contraceptives; 10 percent offered no contraceptive coverage at all.

A NEW, $169 MILLION INVESTMENT FOR FAMILY PLANNING OVERSEAS. An estimated 34,000 children under age five die every day in developing countries, and over 580,000 women die each year of causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. By helping women bear their children during the healthiest times for both mother and baby, family planning helps prevent many deaths as well as unintended pregnancies and abortion. In his radio address, the President will highlight that his FY 2001 budget proposes $541 million, an increase of 45 percent over FY 2000, to fund the provision of family planning services and related reproductive health services overseas.

CLINTON-GORE ADMINISTRATION?S LONGSTANDING COMMITMENT TO PROVIDING SAFE, EFFECTIVE FAMILY PLANNING SERVICES FOR WOMEN. Since the Clinton-Gore Administration took office, funding for domestic family planning services has increased by 58 percent. President Clinton has taken a number of steps to provide safe and effective family planning services to women, including launching a National Task Force to coordinate the investigation of violence against women's health care clinics nationwide. The Administration has also given states flexibility through Medicaid waivers to provide family planning services to low-income women. President Clinton has also: reversed the ban on the importation of RU-486 and threatened to veto a provision that would prevent the FDA from using government funds to test, develop or approve drugs that may induce medical abortion; defeated Republican proposals that would restrict access by minors to Title X family planning services; and vetoed a bill banning certain late-term abortions without an appropriate exception to protect the life and health of women.