Massachusetts' Republican Governor Is Standing Up For Planned Parenthood

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If congressional Republicans follow through with plans to defund Planned Parenthood, hundreds of thousands of women could be impacted. But while Planned Parenthood advocates grapple with the repercussions moves to defund one of the nation's largest providers of affordable and high-quality health care could have on women's health, one state is standing up for Planned Parenthood. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has pledged to increase state funding for the state's Planned Parenthood clinics should congressional Republicans manage to defund the health care provider.

"Governor Baker is a strong supporter of women's health and believes the Commonwealth has a responsibility to ensure access to the important health care services offered by Planned Parenthood in all corners of our state," Lizzy Guyton, a spokeswoman for Gov. Baker said in a statement to local news media outlets. "The administration is prepared to fund these services should the federal government pursue changes that would block care for women and families here in Massachusetts."

Massachusetts has five Planned Parenthood clinics that could stand to lose roughly $2 million a year in federal funding should Republicans in Congress successfully defund the organization, according to The Boston Globe. Since the election of Donald Trump, Republicans in Washington, D.C., have made several moves toward attempting to defund Planned Parenthood, including proposing a resolution to rescind legislation prohibiting states from using political reasons as justification for defunding the health care provider.

Politico also recently obtained a copy of a draft House bill reportedly circulating among Republicans that ties efforts to defund Planned Parenthood into legislation to repeal President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. The bill calls for prohibiting Medicaid patients from receiving any form of care including pap smears, cancer screenings, STD testing, or contraceptives from Planned Parenthood.

Baker, a moderate Republican who diverges from the GOP party line on abortion rights and same-sex marriage, has said he would direct state funding to help cover the needs of patients insured through Medicaid who might be prohibited from seeking care at a Planned Parenthood should congressional Republicans successfully defund the organization.

According to data obtained by the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, roughly 30 percent of patients seen by the state's five clinics are insured through the state's Medicaid program.

While Planned Parenthood hasn't always been supportive of all of Gov. Baker's proposals — the Massachusetts arm of the health care provider recently criticized Baker for slashing nearly $200,000 from a state fund that covers family planning services — they're rallying behind his latest move.

"I hope fellow Republican governors and colleagues in Washington take note," Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, chief executive of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, said in a statement to the Boston Globe. "Governor Baker's support for the patients we care for here in Massachusetts makes it clear that women's health and access to affordable health care are really nonpartisan issues."