Trump administration forces Washington state out of Title X program
The federal Department of Health and Human Services yesterday notified Washington state officials that unless the state agrees to new terms that violate state law and long-established medical ethics and standards, it can no longer remain in the Title X program.
Gov. Jay Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, King County Executive Dow Constantine, legislators and other state leaders appeared today with Planned Parenthood advocates and patients in Seattle. They blasted the new rule which eliminates the ability of providers to advise, counsel and treat patients with the full range of legal and constitutionally protected reproductive care services. The rule disproportionately impacts lower-income women and families who seek medical services at local clinics and community providers. Ninety percent of Title X patients are low income.
“The Trump administration’s attack on women’s rights is unprecedented. Washington state is fighting back with equally unprecedented resolve. Late yesterday, the administration sent us an untenable ultimatum that forces Washington state out of the Title X program. We will not be bullied. We will not be coerced. We will not be blackmailed and threatened. Reproductive health care is basic health care. And it’s one of the most necessary and fundamental rights of a just and equitable democracy,” Inslee said.
“The federal government has no place in the exam room. Washington will keep fighting for Washington women’s right to unbiased medical care. Medical decisions should remain between patients and their medical providers,” Ferguson said.
Washington is among several states challenging the rule in court. Last month, Inslee directed the state Department of Health last month to end use of federal Title X funds while the rule is being litigated. At today’s press conference, Inslee said the state will commit to protecting access to reproductive care services and work with legislators to ensure state funding is available. State officials estimate maintaining services and care will require approximately $4 million a year.
Washington’s Title X program funds 16 organizations and 85 clinics across the state. The program funds everything from contraceptive care and STI screenings to Pap smear screenings and pregnancy option counseling.
The Washington State Department of Health sent a letter back to the Trump administration today that reinforces the state’s position to protect reproductive freedom.
“The attack on the Title X program is part of an attack on health care choices for women in this country. Women and families deserve and need comprehensive compassionate care, and Washington state must continue to be a beacon of hope,” Sen. Rebecca Saldaña said. “The commitment of our state and local governments to protect access to these necessary medical services is imperative to ensure quality of life for all people who live in our state.”
“Washington state has a strong tradition of protecting the right of everyone to access the health care individuals and their medical providers deem necessary. All people have the right to make their own choices about their bodies, lives, and futures. Our state must do what it takes to defend women’s rights that are now under attack by Trump, and in the meantime, ensure that the important medical services targeted by the unconscionable attack on Title X remain accessible,” Sen. Sam Hunt said.
“No matter what is happening in D.C., the people of Washington state have repeatedly reaffirmed that these are choices between a woman and her doctor. As a state, we will continue leading our nation in not only protecting, but expanding access to reproductive health care,” Rep. Eileen Cody said.
“Reproductive health is not only a healthcare issue — it’s about class, race and gender justice. We must all continue speaking out against policies that try to criminalize abortion and take away healthcare rights,” Rep. Nicole Macri said. “This year, we prioritized and expanded family planning funding in our state budget, so Washingtonians are more protected against these assaults from the federal administration than people in many other states.”