Olympia— Legislators passed and the governor signed a final budget Friday that protects women and families by maintaining family planning programs. Family planning funding covers contraception and cancer screenings for thousands of women in Washington State, saving the state nearly $5 for every $1 spent.
“Women in our state are too often forced to choose between food on the table or taking care of their health, and this budget will help protect those women from losing the funding for vital services such as birth control and cancer screenings,” said Jennifer M. Allen, Director of Public Policy at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest. “Health reform is going to make health care accessible to thousands more women and families in our state, and this budget ensures seamless access to reproductive health as we transition into that new world.”
The budget supports Washington’s efforts to implement health reform through the health insurance exchange and by expanding Medicaid for low-income women, men and families. Medicaid expansion will save the state $200 million in the first three years and $120 million over the long-term in the next six years while keeping the promise of health care reform for low income Washingtonians.
Additionally this session, women’s health advocates fought until the final days to pass the Reproductive Parity Act (RPA), a common sense bill that would have ensured women maintain the freedom and privacy to make their own pregnancy decisions. Though the bill was roadblocked by the Senate Majority Caucus Coalition after it passed the House during regular session, the discussion around its need helped prevent many insurance companies from dropping abortion coverage from their plans this year due to additional burdens of providing that coverage put in place by the Affordable Care Act.
“Women’s health advocates warned that insurance coverage for safe and legal abortion would be dropped if our legislature did not take action, and that’s exactly what happened in May—until women and our legislative champions spoke out and stopped it,” said Elaine Rose, CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest.
“We will continue to fight for the RPA next session so that Washington women do not lose the coverage they have today for all of their legal pregnancy options. State after state continues to deny women access to abortion coverage based on extremist ideology, and it’s clear that insurance carriers will respond to the national marketplace and the administrative burdens put in place when the Affordable Care Act was passed by dropping this coverage if they can. We need to ensure that Washington maintains its values of protecting women’s freedom and privacy to make their own health care decisions,” added Rose.
Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest supporters and activists worked tirelessly to contact legislators during the regular and special session. Women’s health advocates across the state made over 3,800contacts to legislators by phone, email and in person visits. Volunteers contributed over 2,770 hours of their time and made unceasing efforts to encourage legislators not to compromise on women’s health up until the very end.
“After facing family planning cuts year after year, our supporters have a lot to be proud of for all the hard work they put in to ensure the safety net for women and families is maintained,” said Treasure Mackley, Political and Organizing Director of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest. “Our representatives know that standing up this way for women’s health and rights at a time when those rights are under attack across the country makes a statement. Washington is not a place where we will stand for the destruction of women’s basic health care access.”
Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest (PPVNW) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization educating Alaskans, Idahoans, Washingtonians and policy-makers about reproductive health issues. PPVNW lobbies and educates to advance Planned Parenthood’s mission and also engages in limited electoral activities.