After passing its two-year, $66 billion budget through the legislature last night without a single Democratic vote, Wisconsin looks to be the fourth state nationwide to cut all state and federal funding for its Planned Parenthood clinics. Indiana, Kansas, and most recently North Carolina have all passed such amendments in the past two months in an effort to decrease the ease with which women can receive abortions.
Once Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) signs the Wisconsin budget as he is expected to do, all nine of Planned Parenthood’s health centers in the state will lose the funding they need to offer services to 19,000 uninsured patients each year. None of these clinics even offer abortion services to their patients. The Wisconsin budget also imposes severe restrictions on the state’s BadgerCare Family Planning Program that may lead to its termination.
The president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, Teri Huyck, released a statement expressing her disappointment that the Wisconsin GOP would place political ideology over health benefits for thousands of the uninsured.
“It is greatly disturbing to me that some politicians’ personal beliefs are trumping our shared responsibility to make sure women and men have access to preventive reproductive health care, which is not only essential for their own lives, but also a cost-saver for all Wisconsin taxpayers,” she said.
But Wisconsin is not the only state where conservatives have pushed an anti-abortion agenda over the interests of an uninsured lower class. Indiana, Kansas and North Carolina have all passed legislation ending funding for Planned Parenthood, and Tennessee, Texas and Oklahoma are all working on similar measures.
Indiana: The first state to end funding for its Planned Parenthood clinics, Indiana cut all state funding for the organization along with $1.4 million in Medicaid funds. Planned Parenthood is currently seeking a preliminary injunction against the law and claims the measure is unconstitutional as Medicaid funds can be used at any qualified health provider. Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a briefing siding with the health organization against the state law. Planned Parenthood operates 28 health centers across Indiana and serves around 9,300 Medicaid patients.
Kansas: In May, Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) signed the law banning the use of over $300,000 in federal funding under the Title X Family Planning Program in Planned Parenthood clinics, redirecting the money to government clinics instead. Unlike in Indiana, the measure does not prevent Medicaid patients from using the clinics.
North Carolina: On June 15, the state legislature overrode Gov. Bev Perdue’s (D-NC) veto on its proposed budget plan and thereby cut all state and federal funding—totaling around $434, 000 annually—for its health centers. GOP lawmakers avoided the legal troubles Indiana is facing by staying away from Medicaid, but Planned Parenthood is still considering filing for an injunction. In a poll conducted recently, 57 percent of the state’s voters oppose the funding cuts to Planned Parenthood and its programs.
Tennessee: The day after passing the state budget, GOP lawmakers learned that the amendment they added to ban public money for Planned Parenthood had been secretly gutted before the late-night vote. In response, conservatives across the state called for the governor to revoke Planned Parenthood’s Title X funding. By June 13, all but one county had done so, even though none of Title X funds can be used to pay for abortions, and thereby removed support from the state’s nine Planned Parenthood clinics and their 9,000 patients. Currently, the public money goes toward providing the organization’s family planning services for low-income patients.
Protesting the adverse effect that such a move puts on the poor, president and CEO for Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee Jeff Teague said, “Tennessee is a rural and poor state, so it’s gonna put an additional burden on the population least likely to afford it. In a lot of cases, that means they are going to lose access to health care.”
Texas: GOP lawmakers are currently working on keeping Planned Parenthood from receiving nearly $20 million in public funding as a part of the Texas Medicaid Women’s Health program. None of the health centers run by the organization in the state offer abortion services, yet all 122,000 of its patients could suffer if the House and Senate can reach an agreement on the bill that currently includes the funding ban as an amendment.
Oklahoma: An amendment that would have removed funding from Planned Parenthood’s Women Infant and Child program died with the bill in a legislative committee on May 26. The program provides nutritional services and food vouchers to pregnant women and women with small children. It does not fund abortions.
Who will be next? In just the past few months, GOP lawmakers have targeted Planned Parenthood in states across the nation to promote their moral stance on abortion over the healthcare rights of poor and uninsured women. The Hyde Amendment may have prevented any taxpayers from paying for abortion services since the 1970s, Planned Parenthood may only spend less than three percent of its budget on abortions and hundreds of thousands of patients may depend on these clinics for their health needs, but conservatives will stop at nothing to have a pro-life talking point for their next campaign.