By now, most people are aware of the ongoing political battle for healthcare access in the US. Even those who do not count themselves as part of the majority who support the continuation and improvement of the Affordable Care Act cannot deny the urgent importance of this issue. Healthcare is a right that should be afforded to every person on this planet, regardless of sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, income, race, ethnicity, immigration status, geographical location, or religious faith. Ensuring access to quality healthcare is not only the right thing to do. It also just makes financial sense.
Access to family planning and contraceptive services, for example, has proven to reduce the public costs associated with unintended pregnancies. In 2014 alone, publicly funded family planning programs in our state prevented more than 27,000 unintended pregnancies. This amounts to a savings of over 100 million dollars in pregnancy and abortion costs! For every dollar invested in family planning, Washington state saves seven times as much on long-term social services. Access to family planning services reduces unintended pregnancies in Washington state by 45 percent.
Long before I began volunteering for Planned Parenthood, I was an unemployed, largely uninformed teenager who needed help. The educational resources and quality services I received at my local health center empowered me with knowledge and opportunity to realize and exercise another fundamental right: agency.
Ensuring access to healthcare must remain a priority for Washingtonians and our elected officials because it it is socially and fiscally responsible.