Sequester Cuts Target Women, Start Today

by Amy Zimmerman

Happy Sequester Day! Today the US is facing across-the-board spending cuts that will add up to about $85 million in deficit reduction this fiscal year, and $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. So what’s getting cut? The cuts are split pretty evenly between domestic and defense funding. While Republicans like John McCain are afraid that these defense cuts will compromise the nation and leave us vulnerable to attack (#militaryindustrialcomplex), we’re a little more concerned about the targeted domestic programs that relied on government funding to provide crucial services. Unsurprisingly, women, minorities, and the poor are going to be the most adversely affected by this punishing sequester. has assembled this list of the five ways the sequester will harm women. For starters, the mothers of the 70,000 children who will be cut from the Head Start program due to the sequester will be deprived of their primary childcare providers. Victims of domestic and sexual abuse will have to contend with the $20 million cuts from the just-renewed Violence Against Women Act, and the $9 million cuts from the Family Violence Prevention Services Act. If that sounds really bad, it’s because it is; VAWA funds domestic abuse prevention services and interventions in cases of sexual assault, and the cuts to the Family Violence Prevention Services Act will bar an estimated 35, 927 victims from access to shelters, free services, and legal assistance. More bad stuff: $600 million cuts to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children will harm an inestimable number of women and families subsisting below the poverty line and in food-insecure households. Additionally, since thousands of public-sector jobs will necessarily be cut due to the sequester (and since women are 50% more likely to be employed in the public sector than men), even more women might be struggling to feed their families in the coming year.

As if all that’s not enough, the sequester will have a particularly dire effect on women’s reproductive health services, which have already been hit hard by government cuts and backwards legislation. The proposed $15 million cuts to Title X (which will be on top of the $23 million that has been cut from the program in the past two years) will severely limit poor women’s access to necessary health services by forcing clinics to cut back on staff and hours, or even shut down altogether. According to, 6 out of 10 women who use Title X clinics consider them a primary source of health care, and one quarter of all poor women in the US obtain contraception from Title X clinics. Additionally, “It is estimated that overall levels of unintended pregnancy would be one-third higher without the services provided through Title X-supported centers.” Check out this handy White House link for more information on all of the cuts, and how your state will be affected. Sequester day sucks.

Images via Tumblr, ABC, and Mother Jones

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