MADISON, Wis. — A Senate committee is holding a public hearing today on a trio of bills that could bring potentially lifesaving research to a halt in Wisconsin and attempt to divert funding for providing comprehensive reproductive health care services away from Planned Parenthood. One Wisconsin Now Research Director Jenni Dye denounced the latest efforts by Senate Republicans to impose their partisan politics on the health care decisions of Wisconsin families and put their personal beliefs before women’s access to health care.
“From lifesaving research to access to birth control and reproductive health care it seems as if there’s nowhere Republicans won’t insert partisan politics or no one on whom they won’t impose their personal beliefs,” commented Dye. “Today they’re threatening medical researchers with felonies and jail time and making it more difficult for Wisconsin families to access comprehensive health care services.”
Since the late 1990s legislative Republicans have proposed ill-advised legislation that would cripple cutting-edge medical research and threaten scientists with prison time and fines. The latest iteration, Assembly Bill 305 (AB 305), could halt research in Wisconsin on cures for cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, blindness, diabetes and other medical conditions and threaten scientists with fines of up to $50,000 and up to 6 years in prison.
According to experts, all research at the University of Wisconsin is reviewed to ensure it meets ethical and scientific standards. Currently there are nearly 100 labs on the University of Wisconsin Madison campus that could be impacted by legislation described as “chilling.” Research being conducted includes searches for cures for cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, blindness and other diseases.
Planned Parenthood provides health care to anyone, regardless of income, ability to pay or insurance status, who visits one of their 22 health centers statewide. They currently serve 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. 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.
In their fiscal analysis of the implications of the bill to divert funding away from Planned Parenthood, the Department of Health Services admits they lack the capacity and network of qualified providers to fulfill the requirements to receive the federal funds.
Even the state’s big business lobby, the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, is publicly opposing and lobbying against the GOP led attack on lifesaving medical research in Wisconsin. Meanwhile Republicans in the Assembly, not noted for their moderation, are expressing concerns about the implications of attempts to reduce funding for reimbursement rates for prescription drugs intended to target Planned Parenthood and access to birth control.
Dye concluded, “Now that Gov. Walker’s presidential campaign and his extremism have crashed and burned nationally, it would be a refreshing change of pace for his lapdog legislature to start putting the health of Wisconsin families before his political ambitions. A good start would be rejecting these shameful, politically motivated attacks on medical research and women’s access to birth control and healthcare.”