Health

Gov. Inslee, Washington state officials vow to fund Planned Parenthood after Trump administration rule change

State officials vowed to cover the $2.9 million lost in Washington state when Planned Parenthood this week withdrew from the federal Title X family planning program over new abortion restrictions imposed by the Trump administration.

“We’re going to make sure this gets taken care of,” Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday morning at a news conference at the Planned Parenthood office in Seattle, and just hours after he ended his run for president.

“The importance of women to have these kinds of services is paramount in our minds,” Inslee said. “I would not have high anxiety about that.”

Secretary of Health John Wiesman said there is existing family planning money to cover the Title X loss through the middle of March, and then legislators will be asked to put the needed funding in the state supplemental budget.

“The legislators will either do this,” Inslee said, “or lose their parking spots.”

Inslee joined Christine Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands; Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson; King County Executive Dow Constantine and Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., as well as a Planned Parenthood client named Amelia, who spoke of the care she received.

“This is one of the dumbest moves of the Trump administration,” Inslee said.

Planned Parenthood withdrew from the nearly 50-year-old Title X program on Monday after the Trump administration barred facilities that receive that money from providing abortions within those clinics or even referring patients for an abortion at another facility.

The ruling makes no sense, Charbonneau said, noting that for every dollar spent on family planning, states save between $7 and $10.

“States can’t afford not to pay for family planning programs,” she said. “They end up with an untenable burden in labor and delivery costs — and Medicaid afterward — if they don’t.”

Title X serves about 4 million low-income patients nationwide, providing affordable birth control and reproductive health care. It pays for contraception and disease prevention, but has never covered abortion.

Nationally, Planned Parenthood serves 40 percent of those patients. In Washington state, Title X allows 90,000 low-income people to access birth control, cancer screenings and testing for HIV.

Constantine noted that in the last decade Title X had contributed to a 68 percent reduction in the teen birthrate in King County — one of the lowest teen birthrates in the country.

“This administration is failing us, all the while saying this is for moral reasons,” Charbonneau said. “It’s a terrible strategy and an exceptionally bad idea. We are no more for sale to this bullying government than Greenland.”

Ferguson called the ruling “unlawful,” and said his office had filed litigation here challenging the administration. His office had gotten an injunction on the trial-court level in the federal Eastern District of Washington, he said, but it was removed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 23 before a larger Ninth Circuit panel, seeking to have that injunction — which would put a temporary stop to the rule — restored. If the AG’s office wins, it will put a stop to the rule. If not, “we are right back where we started,” he said.

Washington state is one of nine states suing over the funding rule, Charbonneau said.

“We have not lost a case yet against this administration,” Ferguson said. “I can tell you we sure as hell don’t plan on starting with this case.”

Said Inslee: “We will not be bullied, we will not be coerced, we will not be blackmailed or threatened. Because this is basic health care.”


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