Planned Parenthood announced Monday it will be shutting down four of its Wisconsin locations starting in less than two months, citing a lack of funding after budget cuts from the state.
Between April and July of this year, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin will be closing health centers in Beaver Dam, Johnson Creek, Chippewa Falls and Shawano, according to a Planned Parenthood statement. The statement said this downsizing will eliminate more than 11,400 health services to 2,000 patients.
The non-profit family planning services organization attributed these planned closures to a lack of state funding, the statement said. Wisconsin’s 2011-2013 biennial budget cut state funding to Planned Parenthood entirely, causing the organization to lose $1.1 million.
Planned Parenthood Vice President of Patient Services Deb Bonilla said in a statement maintaining patient care will remain the priority. Despite the setback of these soon-to-close facilities, staff at health centers are working to provide alternatives and ensure patients receive screenings and birth control, as well as treatment and testing for sexually transmitted infections.
In all four communities where these closures will occur, Planned Parenthood is the only reproductive health provider, the statement added.
Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, said the closures of these locations, primarily in rural areas such as Shawano and Chippewa Falls, will force women to make much longer commutes for these services.
“Planned Parenthood was the only access point for family planning services in those communities,” Taylor said. “It just means those women are going to have to drive further and longer to get back the services they once had in their community.”
Craig Roberts, a clinical assistant professor in University of Wisconsin’s Department of Population Health Sciences, said the state has cut back on funding for a variety of programs. However, he said he was unsure whether these Planned Parenthood closures could be attributed to a lack of funding or because they were not busy enough.
Taylor, who is also a Planned Parenthood public policy director, added in a statement that Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to cut the organization’s program two years ago confirmed his “extreme agenda against birth control and reproductive health care.”
Walker’s “war on women” has become a reality and members of the Legislature must recognize women’s health is not a partisan issue, according to Taylor’s statement.
“I’m watching the Family Planning Medicaid program, which the governor might cut,” Taylor said in an interview with The Badger Herald. “Refusing the BadgerCare expansion does really hurt women who need access to family planning services because a lot of women who need access are women who don’t have children and are not eligible for BadgerCare.”
Nicole Safar, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin public policy director, said in a statement the funding cuts to these women’s Medicaid programs could result in more unintended pregnancies, abortions, undetected cancer occurrences and higher STI and HIV rates.
Sen. Glen Grothman, R-West Bend, said he believes there are enough CVS and Walgreens pharmacies in the state providing contraceptives, which makes Planned Parenthood is unnecessary.
“There are so many clinics and pharmacies around the state,” Grothman said. “I don’t know what the sense is in having Planned Parenthood.”