<\body> Stories in America: Surprise: Bush Quietly Cuts Funding for Women's Health

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Surprise: Bush Quietly Cuts Funding for Women's Health

When is $4 million really $2.8 million? One answer is "When you're a woman," as the Labor Department has repeatedly found that women earn about 75 cents for every dollar that men earn for the same work. But this week's answer is "When you are the Office of Women's Health" within the Food and Drug Administration. That office, which was at the center of a politically damaging storm over the emergency contraceptive "Plan B," just had more than one-quarter of this year's $4 million operating budget quietly removed, insiders say.

The office funds research on male-female biological differences to ensure that women receive the most appropriate drug doses and treatments. It also produces heavily requested health information about menopause, pregnancy, birth control, osteoporosis and other topics.

The administration had requested - and Congress had budgeted - $4 million for the office in fiscal 2007, just as they have for several years running.

Last week, however, word came down that the FDA intends to withhold $1.2 million of that, apparently for use elsewhere in the agency. Because the remaining $2.8 million has already been spent or allocated for salaries and started projects, the office must effectively halt further operations for the rest of the year, according to a high-level agency official with knowledge of the budget plan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official is not authorized to speak publicly.


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