ChoiceWords Blog

Your urgent thoughts, urging action

The Fiscal Cliff: Not Sexy but a Big Problem for your Sex Life

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December 18, 2012

This post is part of a series from Campus Progress

There is nothing sexy about the fiscal showdown in Washington. It’s a complicated mess. Despite that, it’s imperative that our Representatives hear from young people, and critical that they see the connection between sexual and reproductive health and the fiscal cliff. The fiscal cliff is more than a witty metaphor. Plummeting over the fiscal ledge will result in enormous cuts in Title X family planning services, benefits from the Affordable Care Act, funding for comprehensive sex education programs, and maternal health programs. And in a political climate where these programs already hang in the balance, we can’t afford to stand this one out.

As young people, we already face a lot of unique barriers when it comes to accessing services and living sexually healthy lives. We’ve got age restrictions on emergency contraception, parental consent and notification laws on abortion, and don’t even get me started with the pervasive messages in the media that youth sexuality is a threat of epic proportion or that young people are incapable of being good parents. No matter what we choose, we’re constantly being judged.

Young people understand the very real impact this has on our lives. We’re experiencing the consequences of sex phobia every day, and we’re fighting back. Over the past few years I’ve had the privilege of working with young leaders across the country to win real sexual and reproductive health victories. Funding for comprehensive sex education. Birth control access in the Affordable Care Act.

Today, those victories hang in the balance. Going over the fiscal cliff holds the potential of rolling back these victories and undermining everything we’ve worked for.

Two years before I started working at Choice USA I had the opportunity to go to their National Conference, the Gloria Steinem Membership Conference, and advocate for comprehensive sex education with dozens of my peers. Although the bill we were advocating for didn’t pass, all of the advocacy efforts (mostly led by young people) did lead to the creation of critical programs like the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI), Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) and the Department of Adolescent School of Health (DASH). DASH currently provides some of the only funding streams to HIV and STI prevention programs in 49 states. All of these programs provide funding for evidence-based sex education programs that were more comprehensive and included conversations about healthy relationships and HIV/AIDS prevention.

As a Field Associate at Choice USA, I’ve spent the last year working with young people on their campuses and in their communities to raise money for family planning centers (many who saw their budgets already slashed last year), advocate to raise the national standard for comprehensive sex education and educate their peers on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

And now, there’s a chance we could lose it all, and so much more. If Congress doesn’t act in this fiscal showdown, sequestration would mean that the budget would be slashed for potentially every program we’ve worked so hard to get over the past few years. Furthermore, if the right kind of deal isn’t made, it could mean a tax increase of over $2,000 for 99.5% of young people. That’s over 2 month’s rent for me!

Why is this happening? Because some of our elected officials want to put the priorities of millionaires and billionaires ahead of the rest of us. They are doing this by refusing to give middle class tax breaks unless they can give them to the top 2% as well. If we’re going to make a decision to cut millions of dollars through tax breaks, we should do it for the people who need it the most.

That’s why we’re urging you to contact your Representative and ask them to drop the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and save critical sexual and reproductive health programs! So, what are you waiting for? Give your Representative a call today.

Raquel Ortega, Choice USA Field Associate

 

 

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