Washington State will continue to have three pro-choice women at the helm.
Senator Patty Murray (D) is the winner of the U.S. Senate race in Washington State, beating out Republican challenger Dino Rossi and retaining her seat for a fourth term.
With Governor Christine Gregoire and fellow U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, Murray completes the pro-choice “trifecta” for the state and certainly has women’s organizations, and female voters, to thank, in part, for her victory.
Dana Laurent, Political Director for Planned Parenthood Votes! Washington said of her organization’s efforts, in a press release sent out yesterday,
“Once we were able to talk to women voters and let them know that Senator Murray has consistently fought for women’s rights and health, and Dino Rossi wants to roll back the clock for women, they understood.”
Though Murray has won election to another term, the incumbent has some serious work ahead of her. Washington State is facing a $520 million budget shortfall and many cuts to health care – including critical family planning services (Take Charge program), health care coverage for children, maternity services and prescription drug benefits for seniors.
As well, ballot measures in the state which would have brought much-needed tax relief for some of these cuts did not pass. Of those, Laurent says,
“We understand that voters are frustrated with the economy right now,” said Dana Laurent, Political Director for Planned Parenthood Votes! Washington. “But unfortunately, a vote against our ability to provide some kind of stable revenue for cost-saving programs like Take Charge will not only deny many women access to health care, but it will cost taxpayers in our state millions of dollars in unintended pregnancy care costs.”
Funding cuts to Take Charge, the program which provides free family planning services to low-income women and men in the state are to be implemented on March 1st.
NARAL Pro-Choice Washington head, Lauren Simonds notes also that Washington State has lost,
“…a pro-choice Congressional seat, and our pro-choice ranks in both houses of the state legislature have decreased.”
However, with a pro-choice governor and two pro-choice U.S. senators, Washington State is still seen as a progressive leader on women’s health issues. Several challenges lay ahead including retaining funding for crucial health care services, legislating protections for women against deceitful crisis pregnancy center practices and advocating for a Plan B/pharmacy refusal policy which prioritizes women’s health access.