...And next in, it's NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, reacting to a $1 million cut in family planning money. 

NARAL executive director Karen Cooper, like SEIU, gets right to the point: 

“If these family planning funds are not restored, the consequences will be felt not only by the women of our state, but by taxpayers as well,” added Cooper.  “Quite simply, birth control saves money.”

I've attached the full press release below the jump. 

I can't say we didn't see this one coming. As we reported last week

2. In other state budget news, here’s an example of what’s in store: On Friday, The Everett Herald reported that Planned Parenthood is closing its Monroe Clinic.

Well, follow the money: Bush administration guidelines enacted in 2005 forced the low-income health services and family planning provider to lose federal assistance for about 46,000 of its clients. Of course, as a non-profit, Planned Parenthood cannot turn patients away, and so they continued to serve those patients and lose money. Not a sustainable model. Goodbye Monroe clinic, one of just four in Snohomish County. 

The thing is, the state had allocated about $10 million to help Planned Parenthood cover some (about half) of those people who were no longer eligible thanks to the Bush-era guidelines. In other words, at least Planned Parenthood wouldn’t have to scale back even more. (They also closed their Vancouver clinic in January.)

Well, that state money is now in jeopardy. And of course, as the economy falters, Planned Parenthood—which has seen a 35 percent increase in the Puget Sound service area (comparing January ‘09 to ‘08)—will continue to serve those people anyway. Not a sustainable model. 

With all the talk of going to the public for a vote on tax increases to fund specific programs, you have to wonder how family planning—which opponents would spin simply as abortion services—would fit in. At a first pass, I can't imagine the legislators in Olympia would put family planning to the voters. Something this controversial would surely sink the package. 

Or would it? 

Despite the loud opposition, surveys—like this one from pollster Peter Hart during the 2008 election showing 65 percent of female voters had a positive feelings toward Planned Parenthood—indicate that organizations like Planned Parenthood are winners among voters, not deal breakers.

In that context, a vote could be a brilliant move for progressives; another affirmation of where Washington state is on the issue. 

Again, I wouldn't count on the squeamish Democratic legislature in Olympia to do such a thing, though. 



Washington Senate Budget Cuts Birth Control, Family Planning Funding

Proposed budget will hurt Washington women and cost state more in the long run


This morning the Washington Senate released its proposed 2009-11 budget.  Among other steep cuts, the proposed budget slashes $1 million in funding for birth control and other family planning services for low-income women and teens.


“We are disappointed in the Senate budget,” said Karen Cooper, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington.  “This budget represents a sharp decline in all the services provided by the state, including a 10% cut in family planning care.”


“If these family planning funds are not restored, the consequences will be felt not only by the women of our state, but by taxpayers as well,” added Cooper.  “Quite simply, birth control saves money.”


Public funding for family planning care is a smart investment.  According to the state’s Department of Health statistics, it costs approximately $550 a year to cover a full range of family planning services for each Washingtonian in need, compared to almost $8,000 in state funds for each Medicaid paid birth.  When the state spends a relatively small amount for family planning services now, it ends up saving many times that amount down the road.


“NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is mobilizing our statewide network of members and activists to contact their legislators and budget leaders to urge them to restore this common-sense, cost-effective funding for women and teens in need,” said Cooper.  “We are working tirelessly to protect women’s ability to access their reproductive health care needs.”


NARAL Pro-Choice Washington’s grassroots advocacy helped save the family planning nursing program from being eliminated from the supplemental budget earlier this year.  NARAL sent action alerts to their statewide email list, as well as more than 20,000 postcards to members and activists urging them to contact legislative leaders and the Governor’s office.  Ultimately, the funding for these nurses, who provide birth control to low-income women across the state, was reinstated.  NARAL is now launching an equally intensive effort to restore the full $10 million for family planning funding in the 2009-11 operational budget.


NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is the leading grassroots pro-choice advocacy organization in Washington State. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington works to protect every woman’s right to access the full range of reproductive health options, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is the state affiliate of NARAL Pro-Choice America.