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OLYMPIA – As Washington state continues to address its budget deficit in the legislature, Senate Republicans moved to pass an extreme amendment by Senator Mike Padden in a late-night vote in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday. Senator Padden’s amendment focuses entirely on reducing already insufficient state funding for family planning by 10 percent beginning on July 1, 2017 and specifically targets Planned Parenthood. The state’s family planning program plays a critical role in keeping Washington’s working families healthy, and the loss of funding will diminish access to critical preventive health services. A vote on the budget that includes this amendment is expected in the full Senate this afternoon.

“This is a terrible move that exposes the Senate Republicans' real intention—to take away women's ability to decide when and whether to have children. We know for a fact that taking away birth control from low-income women will increase the number of unintended pregnancies and the number of abortions in our state, and massively increase state pregnancy care costs to boot,” said Elaine Rose, CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii. “Our state is better than this, and at a time when the future of reproductive health care nationwide is in jeopardy, our local elected officials should spend their time ensuring we don’t take away health care from even more Washingtonians.” 

The family planning cut by the Senate Republicans is particularly concerning given the uncertainty around the Affordable Care Act and the risks to women and families’ health posed by Congress and the new Presidential administration.

We have made significant progress over the past decade. Last month, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands announced a drop in the teen pregnancy rate by 55 percent in King County between 2008 and 2015. The success of partnerships between public health departments and organizations like Planned Parenthood only furthers our progress in getting women and families the information and care they need, and the Senate’s actions seek to end such cost-saving partnerships.

“People across the country are watching what will happen to their care and many face the possibility of losing care through the Affordable Care Act or their preventive care at Planned Parenthood. This is not a time to play games with health care. There is too much at stake,” said Rose.

For every 1,000 women who lose access to publicly funded family planning, 288 new unintended pregnancies result, including 144 births and 98 abortions. That means that lost federal funding to Planned Parenthood in Washington as would happen under the U.S. House’s proposed Affordable Care Act repeal bill represents more than 14,000 births and 9,600 abortions. 

Family planning is a basic economic issue for women and working families in Washington State. Unintended pregnancies put women at greater risk of homelessness, family hunger, poor birth outcomes, and long-term dependence on publicly funded programs. Families are strongest when women can make the health care decisions that are best for them. When women control when and if they have children, they have more career and education opportunities, healthier pregnancies, and are less likely to depend on government programs.