MADISON, Wis. — In an ironic but unsurprising twist, the State Assembly Health Committee is holding a public hearing today on legislation that would make it more difficult for Wisconsin women to access comprehensive reproductive health care services. One Wisconsin Now Research Director Jenni Dye blasted the latest attempt by the Republican controlled state legislature to put their personal political beliefs before doing what’s right for Wisconsin women’s health.
“Sacrificing women’s health for political opportunism is wrong,” said Dye. “And make no mistake, that is exactly the intent of these bills.”
Legislation introduced by Rep. Andre Jacque and Sen. Chris Kapenga (Assembly Bill 310 and 311) seeks to prevent Planned Parenthood, the largest community-based, nonprofit provider of reproductive health care services in Wisconsin from receiving federal funds for care and reducing their reimbursement for providing family planning services to individuals through the Medical Assistance program.
The bills were introduced approximately one week after the release of videos attacking Planned Parenthood. A recent independent analysis found the secretly and possibly illegally recorded attack videos were heavily edited and appear to be a targeted effort to spur anti-Planned Parenthood actions at the state and federal level.
Bill author Rep. Andre Jacque is a longtime opponent of birth control and women’s access to it. In addition to supporting an amendment to the Wisconsin state constitution that would outlaw most common forms of birth control, Jacque testified in support of allowing employers to deny insurance coverage of their employees birth control because, “… there are places that offer free birth control. You see them on TV late at night.”
Planned Parenthood provides health care to anyone who walks through their doors at 22 health centers statewide, regardless of their ability to pay. They are currently serving 60,000 individuals each year with breast and cervical cancer screenings, annual exams, birth control, STD testing and treatment, honest sex education and referrals for prenatal care and mammograms.
Dye noted that earlier efforts by Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans closed five Planned Parenthood clinics in rural areas of Wisconsin, impacting over 3,100 women, men and families that depended on them for care. Their latest assault on access to reproductive health services also comes in the midst of an increasingly desperate time for Gov. Walker as he seeks to revive his cratering poll numbers in the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary by touting increasingly radical, right wing policies.
She concluded, “Republicans are pursuing the wrong policies for the wrong reasons. Instead of imposing their partisan politics and personal beliefs on the women of Wisconsin they ought to support policies that empower us to get the health care we need from a trusted provider of our choice.”