And now, for some good news: Michigan will extend family planning services to 200,000 uninsured women, a plan expected to save millions of dollars. The Detroit News reported yesterday that "the plan will use $183 million from Medicaid to provide birth control to women ages 19-44 who cannot afford it." The plan, which should go into effect by June, will, in addition to granting uninsured women contraception, also provide education and prenatal and postnatal counseling.
"We believe extending these services to low-income women across our state greatly increases the chance that every pregnancy in Michigan is a wanted one," Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm told the Detroit News. "If all pregnancies were intended, the state would see significant reductions in infant mortality, child abuse, child neglect and abortion."
At first glance the plan appears to be one of the most progressive allotments of federal funding for family planning since President Bush came into office. But as Renee Chelian, executive director of Northland Family Planning Centers, points out, "Most health departments have cut family planning services and with the exception of a couple of agencies that offer low-cost birth control, there are no places for women to go." In other words, the allotment of funds will make up for the money that would normally be coming from departments of health. Despite the plan's aim to decrease the number of unintended pregnancies, such pregnancies will undoubtedly continue, and for those uninsured women, the plan does not cover abortion services. Still, this is a welcome change from the usual abstinence-only and faith-based family planning funding that is one of the most frustrating uses of taxpayer dollars.