Washington will pay for low-income family planning while abortion gag rule plays out in court

click to enlarge Washington Gov. Jay Inslee supported Planned Parenthood and other health care providers in an effort to block changes to the federal Title X program, which provides family planning care for low-income people. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee supported Planned Parenthood and other health care providers in an effort to block changes to the federal Title X program, which provides family planning care for low-income people.

Washington state will use its own money to cover low-income family planning services typically covered by federal funds while the courts determine whether a new "gag rule" on talking about abortion can move forward.

The Health and Human Services (HHS) Department under Trump is returning to a Reagan-era rule that restricts doctors who receive federal Title X family planning money from mentioning abortion or referring patients elsewhere for one. Abortion is already not covered by federal money. But the rule goes further, requiring not only financial but physical separation between offices that use Title X money and those that offer abortion services, a move largely seen as aimed at Planned Parenthood.

In Washington, Planned Parenthood serves 88 percent of the state's Title X patients. Other family planning clinics have said they could not pick up the extra patients if those facilities can't take them.

"This is a reckless and dangerous rule that runs counter to the intent of the program, counter to our state's Reproductive Parity Act, and counter to the obligation for every doctor to care for their patients based on sound medical practice — not ideology," Gov. Jay Inslee said in a news release. "We will not allow any woman in Washington to be denied full and accurate information about her medical care."

While the state initially got a federal judge to block the rule from taking effect, a panel of judges for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said it could move forward based on the likelihood the federal government will win. Now the state is waiting for the full Ninth Circuit to weigh in.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Health notified HHS in a July 30 letter that it's been using state money since at least July 15 to reimburse Title X claims and will continue to do so until an injunction is restored or the case is resolved.

  • or

About The Author

Samantha Wohlfeil

Samantha Wohlfeil covers the environment, rural communities and cultural issues for the Inlander. Since joining the paper in 2017, she's reported how the weeks after getting out of prison can be deadly, how some terminally ill Eastern Washington patients have struggled to access lethal medication, and other sensitive...