The Trump administration’s plan to place new restrictions on family planning clinics could affect more than 80,000 women in Washington, according to an analysis by Senate Democrats.
Announced last week, the administration’s proposal would strip Title X federal funding from organizations like Planned Parenthood that provide abortions. The proposal would also affect organizations that refer patients elsewhere for abortions.
Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington State, says the effects would be dire.
In total, 82,520 women in Washington received contraceptive care from 64 Title X-funded clinics in 2015, according to a report from Murray’s office. Most of those clinics were Planned Parenthood locations.
Of those women, 16,380 were younger than 20 years old. In that same year, Title X-funded contraceptive services helped prevent 17,700 unintended pregnancies in the state. The figures use data from the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, compiled by Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, of which Murray is ranking member.
In a statement, Murray called the proposal “one of [the administration’s] most blatant, extreme, and harmful attacks yet on women’s reproductive health.”
“Let’s be clear: this rule isn’t about improving women’s health. Not one bit,” Murray said. “It’s about putting Vice President [Mike] Pence’s extreme beliefs in the doctor’s office—where they simply have no place—and about trying to make women’s health care choices for them.”
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson have also decried the move, saying the state is "exploring our legal options."
Title X funds help pay for reproductive health care including birth control and STD screenings, prioritizing low-income people. In 2017, the government spent nearly $300 million in Title X funds.
Federal funding of most abortions is already barred, but this change would go further by disqualifying organizations that provide abortions, even when they don’t use federal funding for those abortions. NPR reports that the move could not only affect groups like Planned Parenthood but could allow organizations that actively oppose contraception to get Title X funding. Because the rule limits Title X-funded agencies' ability to refer patients for abortions, some refer to it as a gag rule.
Elected officials and Planned Parenthood advocates plan to hold a rally downtown at the Columbia
Center Tower today at 5 pm.