Washington has been a leader in protecting and advancing sexual and reproductive health rights in the past, but we’re in serious danger of letting health care access for thousands of people with low incomes crumble amid a pandemic. As the largest family planning provider in the state, we’ve seen firsthand the real-life consequences of chronically underfunding the Medicaid program: Planned Parenthood was forced to close three health centers in early 2021, leaving thousands of Medicaid patients with even fewer options for care. If state legislators don’t act swiftly, even more doors may close and more Washingtonians will lose access to health care. Governor Inslee demonstrated his commitment to family planning care by including funding in his budget proposal, and now we turn to the legislature to carry it forward. We call on legislators to ensure patients maintain access to the full range of reproductive health care services—including abortion care—by including $5.2 million in the 2021-23 operating budget, which secures an additional $10.9 million in matching federal funds.
Family planning is a basic economic issue for women and working families and one of the most powerful and cost-effective investments Washington can make. But the funding to provide the tools families need to be healthy is at risk, and so are thousands of Washingtonians.
Loss of access to family planning services would leave thousands of patients without cost-saving preventive care in the middle of a public health and budget crisis. Families and communities are strongest when people can make the health care decisions that are best for them. The ability to decide when and if to have children is fundamental to true reproductive autonomy.
Without additional investments in family planning, thousands of patients stand to lose access to care, resulting in increased unintended pregnancies and STIs. Instead of waiting to pay for these outcomes down the road, our state should proactively invest in preventive care to keep our communities healthy.