How the Sequester Screws the Ladies


The $85 billion in sequester budget cuts that kicked in yesterday will have a disproportionately negative affect on the nation’s women, from prenatal care to cancer screenings to programs that support children and families. Here’s everything you need to know.

Cuts to Women’s Health

Bye bye, cancer screenings: Sequestration would cut the Center for Disease Control and Prevention by $350 million or more, resulting in approximately 25,000 fewer breast and cervical cancer screenings for low income, high risk women.

Stock up on tissues: The cuts would mean roughly 540,000 fewer doses of vaccine against diseases like hepatitis, flu, measles and whooping cough for children and adults in need of immunizations. Bless you!

Good luck getting an appointment: According to the Appropriations Committee Democrats, “Federal support for Health Centers would be reduced by about $120 million, which could mean about 900,000 fewer patients served. Health Centers are an important source of primary health services for people without health insurance or otherwise lacking access to care.”

Cuts to Victims of Domestic Violence

VAWA, whateva: According to a Department of Justice estimate, sequestration would result in a $1.6 billion reduction of current DOJ funding, which would cut the Violence Against Women funding by $20 million. The DOJ said the cuts would make the nation “significantly less able to keep women, men and children safe from rape and abuse.” They’d also prevent 35,927 victims of violence from accessing services and resources like shelter, legal service and children’s services, as well as reduce funding for domestic violence training and education on the state and local level.

Cuts That Would Affect Moms and Children

Women and infants and children, oh my: Sequestration would reduce WIC funding by $353 million. Over 600,000 low-income, nutritionally at risk, pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children would be dropped from the rolls.

There goes child care: Cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Child Care and Development Fund would leave 30,000 low-income children without child care subsidies, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Approximately 30,000 low-income children of working parents would lose child care assistance through the child care and development block grant, and many more would experience a reduction in services.

Forget about getting a Head Start:: Approximately 70,000 children nationwide would lose access to Head Start under sequestration. This could force a range of private, community and public employers to lay off more than 14,000 Head Start personnel.

Cuts to Seniors

According to the Social Security Administration, 56 percent of social security beneficiaries are women.

Furlough time: Sequestration would force the Social Security Administration to furlough “most of its workforce,” which would “result in people having a more difficult time accessing their benefits,” according to the House Appropriations committee, which reported that “Each day of a furlough means that SSA would not be able to complete 20,000 retirement claims, 10,000 disability claims and 3,000 disability hearings.”

Fewer meals on wheels: Funding for senior nutrition programs like Meals on Wheels would be cut by $35 million, meaning that these programs would serve four million fewer meals to seniors who depend on them for the majority of their food every day.

Cuts to Low-Income Women

Housing, schmousing:: Further cuts to Homeless Assistance Grants will mean that about 100,000 people won’t be housed next year.

Brrr: The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program would lose $185 million on top of the $1.6 billion cut that has already occurred since FY 2010, according to House Democrats, who reported that “Among other impacts, sequestration will make it harder for LIHEAP to help low-income families and seniors avoid having their utilities cut off because of overdue bills when winter shutoff moratoriums expire, or help with urgent summer cooling needs.”

Renters are on their own: Approximately 125,000 Section 8, or Tenant Based Rental Assistance vouchers, would not be renewed thanks to sequestration. This would impact about 312,500 adults and children. “On average, Section 8 households earn $12,549 per year, far lower than the US median of $50,742. Half of Section 8 households have children, 40 percent are disabled and 20 percent are elderly,” the House Democrats reported. “About two-thirds have no income from wages.”

Cuts to Public Sector Jobs

The sequester would cost approximately 750,000 jobs in 2013 across all sectors, but cuts would fall most heavily on public sector workers, 57% of which are held by women. That’s really bad, because the public sector was the only major sector which lost jobs between Jan. 2012-Jan. 2013, and over 85% of those losses were women’s jobs. Since June 2009 the public sector has lost 721,000 jobs, 63% of which were women’s jobs.

Well, that’s all for now. (But, of course, not all that will be cut.) Happy Sequestration Day!

Data from the National Women’s Law Center and House Appropriations Committee Democrats Report on Sequestration.

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