Yesterday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed a budget that cuts funding for Planned Parenthood, after pushing the measure through the state Legislature without a single Democratic vote. Planned Parenthood denounced the decision to choke off state and federal funding to nine health centers in small communities that will deny preventative health care to 12,000 women who don’t have health insurance:
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin says it has 27 health centers across the state, which provide birth control, cancer screenings, annual exams, and sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment to 73,000 patients every year.
Wisconsin is the fourth state to target Planned Parenthood because of conservative-led objections to the group’s abortion services — even though they are funded separately and make up a small fraction of the services Planned Parenthood provides.
Planned Parenthood points out that the budget also threatens Wisconsin’s BadgerCare family planning program, “which currently helps more than 53,000 women and men get preventive health care at providers throughout the state.” Scott’s budget disqualifies men entirely from the program, leaving the 7,000 low-income Wisconsin men who use BadgerCare without access to health care and testing that saves lives. The budget also severely restricts eligibility and requires parental consent for all patients under 18 years old.
The Department of Health estimates the BadgerCare family planning program saves Wisconsin nearly $140 million per year and prevented 11,064 unplanned pregnancies in 2008. By denying so many residents access to preventive care, Wisconsin may see an increase in unintended pregnancies, the spread of STDs, and a rise in undetected and untreated cervical and breast cancer cases — “all of which would then cost the state millions of dollars in future medical costs.”
The budget also calls for $500 million in unspecified cuts to Medicaid programs, and eliminates $800 million in funding for public schools.
Because Planned Parenthood is already barred from receiving federal funds for abortion services, Wisconsin lawmakers did nothing to advance an “anti-abortion” agenda. Instead, they succeeded only in dismantling access to essential reproductive health care such as birth control, cancer screenings and HIV and STD testing for tens of thousands of women who rely on Planned Parenthood.