Protect Family Planning in Washington State
Washington State is facing an historic budget crisis. The budget must be balanced and yet the state faces a $6.5 billion shortfall. Critical health services for the state's most vulnerable citizens are on the chopping block: including family planning services. The state's family planning program does so much more than simply provide contraception (in and of itself a necessary public health tool). The program offers the only consistent health care to thousands of Washington residents providing breast exams, Pap smears, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, pregnancy tests, family planning counseling, HIV testing and HPV vaccines as well. If these services are cut, thousands of lower income women, men and young people will no longer have access to health care.
Cutting publicly-funded family planning does not save the state money, though. It simply shifts the costs to other areas like Medicaid-covered pregnancy and birth care and long-term state-funded health care. Family planning programs save money, in fact. For every $1 spent on family planning services, over $4 is saved. That's a tremendous return on investment.
Nationally, over 800,000 abortions are prevented each year by publicly funded family planning services. For three out of every four poor women, family planning clinical services is their usual source of health care. These women will have nowhere else to go, if the family planning budget is cut. It's more important than ever, during a time of economic insecurity, to retain the health care services that will help the women and men of Washington State stay healthy, act responsibly and plan for the families they want and provide for the families they have. In order to do this, we must retain funding for family planning health care in this budget cycle.
We understand you have a difficult job ahead of you. As you work on the supplemental and biennial budgets, please continue to fund Department of Health and Medicaid family planning programs. These programs are critical to the health and well-being of thousands of Washington State's most vulnerable residents, and provide everything from regular gynecological exams and Pap smears to HIV testing and family planning counseling to women who would otherwise have little to no access to care.
Family planning funding is good public policy and good fiscal policy. Every $1.00 eliminated from family planning programs costs $4.10 in new pregnancy costs, starting right away. One-quarter of women will become pregnant within the first year of losing access to family planning care. If the family planning budget is cut, we're simply shifting the costs from family planning to Medicaid-covered pregnancy and birth care. Nationally, over 800,000 abortions are prevented each year by publicly funded family planning services. For three out of every four poor women, family planning clinical services is their usual source of health care. These women will have nowhere else to go.
But it's not only about pregnancy. In King County there is only one STD clinic to serve all of its lower income residents, despite the county seeing disproportionately high STD rates. If women and men can no longer receive this care, it means going without HIV testing, other STI testing and treatment, and the information and education necessary to prevent diseases.
It's more important than ever, during a time of economic insecurity, to retain the health care services that will help the women and men of Washington State stay healthy, act responsibly and plan for the families they want and provide for the families they have. Eliminating family planning programs is a cut that costs too much. Please stand up for women’s access to basic reproductive health care and fund family planning.
Thank you very much!
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