Just kidding there.

But seriously, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington sent out a press release this morning that says Washington state's Department of Social and Health Services is "lying."

NARAL definitely has something to be pissed about. Their press statement highlights some alarming news about the impact of DSHS' planned $253,000 budget cut request (see NARAL's full statement below), namely that it will eliminate birth control services for low-income women in rural Washington who have an unintended pregnancy.

Says NARAL Director Karen Cooper: 
“The bottom line: DSHS is lying about the effects of this budget cut.  Certain low-income women are going to have no other means to access birth control, resulting in an increase in unintended pregnancies, the cost of which the state will bear,” Cooper said.

I'm just not sure calling a DSHS spokeswoman a "liar" (when it's not WMD-level obvious) is the best way to make your case.  

Here's what DSHS' Mary Anne Lindeblad, director of the division of health care services for the Health and Recovery Services Administration at DSHS, told the Yakima Herald-Republic: “I don’t expect an increase in the numbers of unintended pregnancies because this service goes away.”

Okay, that's a galling quote—to which the Yakima-Herald paraphrased her adding on this maddening line: "Clients will still be able to get birth control and pregnancy-related counseling at community health centers as well as at Planned Parenthood clinics."  But DSHS isn't lying. They're dealing with the state's $10 billion (?) shortfall.

Read NARAL's full press release after the jump.

DSHS Lying About Family Planning Nursing Budget Cuts

Department ignores women in rural areas

SEATTLE – The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services has attempted to obscure the real impact of the elimination of the family planning nursing program. The $253,000 cut in the supplemental budget will result in the firing of over 70 nurses who provide birth control for thousands of low-income women across the state. What DSHS doesn’t want to admit is that this cut, which the department requested, will cause women in rural areas to be left without any birth control services at all.

“When asked about the impact of the budget cut, DSHS brazenly ignored those women who don’t happen to live in the state’s population centers,” said Karen Cooper, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. “They appear to be working under the false assumption that every woman in our state can travel any distance to access her health care needs.”

Turning a blind eye to the birth control needs of rural women, Mary Anne Lindeblad of DSHS told the Yakima Herald-Republic that there would be no decrease in services for these women. She said, “I don’t expect an increase in the numbers of unintended pregnancies because this service goes away.”

This can hardly be the case for the women of Clarkston, Wapato and Colfax, and other locations, who live upwards of 15 miles away from another sliding-scale clinic or health center.

“It is a total absurdity that DSHS would request a cut that not only saves the state money in terms of preventing the costs associated with unintended pregnancies but also brings millions of federal dollars into the state,” said Cooper, referencing the 9 to 1 federal match for state spending on the family planning nursing program. “And it adds insult to injury for DSHS to pretend that rural women don’t exist.”

“The bottom line: DSHS is lying about the effects of this budget cut. Certain low-income women are going to have no other means to access birth control, resulting in an increase in unintended pregnancies, the cost of which the state will bear,” Cooper said.

NARAL Pro-Choice Washington has swiftly mobilized its statewide network of members and activists to call and email their legislators to convince them to reinstate this funding and save the family planning nursing program. Washington’s pro-choice majority has responded in full force. The offices of budget committee and legislative leaders, as well as the Governors’ office, have been flooded with phone calls and emails from pro-choice activists.

“NARAL Pro-Choice Washington’s members are committed to getting these funds reinstated. We urge the Governor not to turn her back on the very women she pledged to support during her re-election campaign,” Cooper added.

If the Governor and DSHS do not act in the next 10 days to reinstate the family planning nursing funding in the supplemental budget, the family planning nurses in all the community service offices in the state will be fired and the program will be eliminated. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is continuing its grassroots lobbying effort to protect this critical program.

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.

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