How the Sequester Will Hurt Women And Children

6263664117_3c30e2a36fHuge U.S. budget cuts (to the tune of $85 billion for 2013) will take effect on Friday unless Congress acts quickly to prevent sequestration. These impending cuts are the result of the Budget Control Act, a 2011 piece of legislation which stipulated that if a bill to reduce the national deficit is not produced, across-the-board cuts will kick in. While the cuts don’t apply to the majority of the money spent by the U.S. government (including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security), the sequester’s effects will be profound, especially on more vulnerable populations such as women and children.

The White House released a report on the state-by-state effects of the sequester, and the outlook looks grim. The STOP Violence Against Women program, created under the Violence Against Women Act (just passed by the House today) would receive funding cuts in every state. Nationwide, the White House estimates that funding for the STOP Violence Against Women will decrease by more than $6 million, and the Department of Justice estimates that more than $20 million might be lost from all of VAWA’s programs. These millions will reduce much-needed federal resources for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

In terms of education, the White House estimates that almost every state would receive at least $1 million in cuts to funding for primary and secondary schooling, with some states (Georgia, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, California) each facing funding cuts of more than $20 million. Teachers and teaching aides will find their jobs at risks and the educational needs of thousands of students will no longer be served. Almost 60,000 children will lose their access to early education with cuts to Head Start, a federal program that works with children from birth to age five from low-income families. Children with disabilities are also in trouble: Education de-funding ranges from $925,00 to $62.9 million per state.

Sequestration also harms mothers and their families. Almost $600 million would be cut from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which provides “nutritious foods, nutritional education and referrals to health and other social services free of charge to participants” and serves low-income pregnant women and mothers. The cuts would deprive these mothers and their children of some of their most basic needs in nutrition and health services. The Safe Motherhood Initiative, which works with state organizations to identify and prevent pregnancy-related deaths, would get a $4 million deduction in funding. The Maternal Child Health Bureau and its Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant will be cut by nearly $100 million, which would eliminate health services, education and programs for more than 40 million woman, infants and children with special health care needs. The cuts would also force rural clinics that serve children with special health care needs to close.

Women’s jobs are also in danger. According to Doug Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, 750,000 jobs may be eliminated in 2013 alone. Women working in the public sector have already had a rough year; of the 721,000 jobs lost, 63 percent were women’s jobs. Thousands more jobs would be lost due to the sequester, a harsh blow to women, who make up more than half of public sector employees and are 50 percent more likely than men to be employed in public sector jobs.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spoke about the “substantial” impact the cuts will have on women, including the cuts to women’s health, initiatives to support children and families and to public sector jobs where women are more likely to be fired. Pelosi urged Congress, “for the sake of America’s women … Democrats and Republicans must work together.”

Today, the Obama Administration officially announced support for S. 388, a bill which would delay sequestration and provide Congress with more time. But unless Congress manages to do something by tomorrow, there will be devastating consequences for women and children.

Photo via Flickr user glynlowe under Creative Commons 2.0


  1. Sara Greenfield says:

    This is unacceptable we cannot cut funding to these programs! Congress should take a pay cut !! and we should be taxing big corporations more instead of the hardworking people who actually keep the country running. I am so disappointed with our government . I urge congress to make the right decision and work to make this country what it should be …for the people by the people.

  2. Robert Carolina says:

    I can’t believe Obama came up with this idea of sequestration without knowing the consequences to women and coming up with any leadership plan to work out an agreement before it got to this point! Plus, he could have worked with the leaders of both the Senate and the House to come up with cuts that wouldn’t be felt by the Americans that can least afford to be hurt!
    I’m sorry to say, this one is on Obama!

    • The Budget Control Act was passed by bipartisan legislation (with criticism by Republicans that the Dems weren’t doing enough to balance the budget) in 2011; this was not Obama “coming up with” anything.

      Furthermore, the GOP is the reason that loopholes haven’t been closed to balance the budget. Across the board, representatives have refused to budge on a lot of different things that could have helped avoid sequestration. Regardless of WHO passed sequestration – the deficit is not being met because they are valuing the rich over everyone else.

      • Janice Hobbs says:

        Thank you for speaking the facts! I will never understand how people can blame POTUS for all of this, when the problems are related more to the do-nothing congress.

  3. We need a spending freeze across the board. We should only continue with essential spending. After all, if it’s not essential, why are we spending money on it? Our children are drowning in debt before they are even born…

    • Origami Isopod says:

      Right-wing talking points. When the economy is terrible, what starts it up again is government spending. If you’re really that concerned about debt, tax all the rich deadbeats who’ve been free riders on society for years.

      • I dont know if you understand the term “free riders”. That usually refers to those who use public assistance programs and then don’t contribute back through taxes. A

        Are you saying rich people who pay taxes and invariably are NOT on welfare/unemployment/etc are “free riders”? That doesn’t make sense.

        • Jennifer says:

          You think rich people always pay taxes. That’s cute.

          Try learning something about our tax system, then come back.

  4. Colleen Peters says:

    I understand the need to reduce our government spending. But why not do it across the board? When our government makes budget cuts, they always seem to directly affect programs for women and children??? They’re cutting W.I.C., a program that does not just help people on public assistance, it helps ALL low income families. This includes working women. This is insanity at its best.

  5. VinJan Smith says:

    I think the whole thing is outrageous. People need to listen and understand what some of us older women are saying since it generally affects us when something happens to our family friends and so on. How bout the govt is now all about I the President and nothing to do with the people really. Welcome to the political machine of the 21st century. Really look around. Take a good hard look around yourselves. We put our elderly people in nursing homes and keep working giving our money to big corporations; someone else basically raises our children instead of their mother or aunt or grandma that someone else is a daycare provider charging outrageous rates so a working mother is left with almost none or none of her paycheck. And now we wonder why there is so much violence and so on; I have some ideas. If we followed some of the true cultures we have in this country and im talking about native americans and others; mothers raised their kids; grandma when she got old was taken care of by the family members and respected and retained her dignity; not put in a place where basically her whole environment and familiarity with that environment was dramatically changed. A good movie reference for this is fried green tomatoes. I worked and raised my family and I had no help from this government with most of it. We are supposed to help one another. Not become a dictatorial, communist state. Maybe thats really what people want; I dont. I want freedoms that our constitution guarantees me as an American citizen; and not a government taking care of me from cradle to grave. I personally think that perhaps Hillary Clinton should become president maybe then something would get done right.

  6. Um, NANCY PELOSI VOTED FOR THE BUDGET CONTROL ACT WHICH LEADS TO THE SEQUESTRATION!!!!!!!!! Hypocrisy? But I guess it’s okay. She does what she wants

  7. trista wetherby says:

    This is not governance, this is a group of 6 years old during recess.GOP:Mom Barack said we have to help the poor people and I dont want to Mom:It is ok son’s we don’t have to we have loopholes that help the 1% and we can still take from poor people..GOP:Start taking away baby formula,deny women birth control,dont give the prego assistance she don’t need to eat,Take money from those who are on social security deny the programs for children with disabilities ,Autism,cut the food stamp program:Now it is time for the American people to understand you cant fix STUPID but you can sure as hell vote it OUT!!!!

  8. William L. Turner says:

    So where were you guys at the beginning of the recession when men bore the brunt of job loses? Seems there was some feminist rejoicing. But with loses in primary and secodary sectors, it only stood to reason the sustainability of jobs in the public service, education and health care would be slashed.

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