On Tuesday, the state House debated the budget (ESB 6002). While other representatives argued for and against the inclusion of child care funds, the size of government and education spending, Rep. Jason Overstreet decided to speak about abortions.
He was speaking about Amendment 865 (read the text here) proposed by Rep. David Taylor (R), which would provide some funds for long-term care (hospices, etc) and disabled veterans and also explicitly forbid any money from our Health and Wellness programs from going to Planned Parenthood or for funding abortions. Click here or the picture below to see the video.
He spoke for two minutes and managed to tie in the Eugenics movement, accusing them of making too much money and of being ineffective. Rep. Tami Green (D-28th) interjected, asking how this was relevant to the amendment. Speaker of the House Pro Tempore Rep. Jim Moeller (D-49th) cracked a sly smile, “Neither do I, Representative” and directed Overstreet to confine his remarks to the amendment at hand. Overstreet responded, “I understand that this is a touchy subject and sunshine on this issue can be difficult to swallow.”
He then asked the legislature to consider the morality, “beyond our fiduciary responsibility.” He again made reference to fraud charges against Planned Parenthood and urged support for the amendment.
Rep. Laurie Jenkins (D-27th) responded that this amendment was illegal since you cannot change substantive law with the budget and access to women’s health choices are protected in Washington’s laws. “We trust women, the amendment that is being offered does not trust women.”
I reached out to Mt. Baker Planned Parenthood for a response, especially about the charges of fraud. Here is the background: Seattle resident Johnathan Bloedow launched a lawsuit accusing Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest of overbilling the state. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest serves Washington, Alaska, Southern Idaho. State Auditor Troy Kelley investigated the claim and dismissed it as baseless.
Christina Kobdish-Wright, director of external affairs for Mt. Baker Planned Parenthood, referred to Bloedow as, “a known extreme anti-choice activist,” and said this was an effort to “stir up expensive, baseless and politically motivated distractions for Planned Parenthood.”
As a savvy political reader you already know, but it is worth mentioning again, that abortions make up less than 4% of Planned Parenthood’s services. They provide 80% of the family planning (contraceptives) in Washington and studies show for every $1 cut from publicly funded family planning programs, over $6 will be spent on new unintended-pregnancy care including deliveries and abortions.
That does not stop it from being used as a political football on the floor of the House by Rep. Overstreet. However, his efforts were unsuccessful, the amendment was defeated by a voice vote.