Friday, March 02, 2007

Washington's "Take Charge" Program to Receive Funding until 2010

It was recently reported here, here, and here that the Planned Parenthood clinic in Longview, Washington was forced to closed.

The curious thing in all the news reports was the reason given for the closing of the clinic. Jennifer Allen, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Western Washington, told the Associated Press:

"The closure was necessary after federal officials cut family planning services for 7,800 people in the "Take Charge" program."

The main problem with this story line is that the "Take Charge" program hasn't been cut. It's been extented to 2010. According to a spokesman with the Departement of Health it was renewed after negotiations between state and federal officials.

Newly elected Cowlitz County Commissioner Axel Swanson (D) didn't waste anytime lamenting the closure of Planned Parenthood. He told The Daily News, "We're struggling with STDs right now. That's just a flat-out fact."


You see, the other problem with the story is that the Take Charge program is indented to "reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in low income populations and the associated costs of maternity and child care by providing comprehensive family planning educational and medical services" i.e. distribution of oral contraceptives, contraceptive shots, patches and Plan B ("morning after pill"). It is not intended for the treatment of STDs.

"It leaves a big question mark in my mind why they would choose to leave Cowlitz County" Mr. Swanson said. Apprently Mr. Swanson is suffering under the illusion that the folks at Planned Parenthood were treating sick people when in fact they were only putting poor folks on birth control pills.

This is as good a time as any to pause and reflect on the deflowering of yet another young politician by Planned Parenthood. According to The Daily News, Mr. Swanson (D) is asking "U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., to look into the matter." Well, that ought to be a real interesting conversation.

Back outside the rabbit hole, however, reality reigns. We took note of Jerry Ross's letter printed in The Reflector, which gave some very good illustrations of how Cowlitz County was taking a significant risk by renting space to Planned Parenthood at sweetheart rates (at $400 a month).
  • Is it legal for the county to lease space to private health providers in one of their buidlings?
  • If it is legal, are they required to open the contract up to other providers on a bid basis?
  • The rent Planned Parenthood was paying for their Longview clinic space was approximately $14/foot -- way under market rates for the town.
  • The sidewalk outside the clinic is in need of repair and could open the county up to a lawsuit should anyone slip and fall.
  • The county also opened themselves up to liability in the event minors were being brought to the clinic for abortions or referrals by their adult "boyfriends" (a.k.a. statutory rape) and the county is sued for harboring a criminal.

A friendly bit of advice to the Cowlitz County Commissioners: When you sup with the devil, use a long spoon.

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