Republicans and Democrats butted heads at hearings Wednesday for two GOP bills aiming to block federal money from going to Planned Parenthood Wisconsin.
For more than 40 years, Title X has been the only federal grant program to provide individuals with comprehensive family planning and preventative health services, according to the United States Department of Health Services.
The first bill, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, instructs Wisconsin Department of Health Services not to allocate the $35 million Title X funding to Planned Parenthood Wisconsin. The second bill would make Planned Parenthood pay for the drugs it receives, which they currently get at a discounted price, by billing Medicaid and taxpayers with the actual costs.
According to statement, Planned Parenthood is the largest community-based reproductive health provider in the state, providing breast and cervical cancer screenings, annual wellness exams, birth control, STD testing and treatment, education and referrals for prenatal care and mammograms for customers of all income levels.
Rep. Andre Jacque, R-DePere, argued against the amount of Title X funding Planned Parenthood currently receives.
“Planned Parenthood has had this monopoly on Title X funding for years,” Jacque said.
Social conservative groups, such as Wisconsin Family Action, agree. Julaine Appling, Wisconsin Family Action president, said Planned Parenthood has been the only recipient of Title X funds since the grant’s inception. Under the Republican bills discussed Wednesday, she said Planned Parenthood would not qualify for Title X funding because it gives referrals for and performs abortions.
She said if the organization stopped performing abortions, the Republican bills would grant them some Title X funding.
Title X requires an application process. Once a state receives the grant, the Department of Health Services disperses the funds to different federally qualified health centers, according to Appling. Appling said she would like to see more of the money go to rural clinics instead of Planned Parenthood.
“The argument [Wednesday] was that [rural clinics] aren’t set up and don’t have the capacity to do these services,” Appling said. “But if they got the money, they would.”
Appling said she believes taxpayer money would be better spent in rural clinics instead of Planned Parenthood clinics, which are not spread across the state.
Planned Parenthood, however, said in a statement Republicans like Gov. Scott Walker are the reason Planned Parenthood clinics are missing from rural areas; five rural clinics closed after the governor’s 2011 biennial budget, which eliminated state funding for patients receiving Planned Parenthood reproductive care.
Walker has called himself “100 percent pro-life,” according to an article from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and he continues to push anti-abortion legislation. In July, he signed a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks.
In its release, Planned Parenthood cited a 2013 Guttmacher Institute study that stated 336,000 women were in need of affordable reproductive care, and Planned Parenthood was only able to serve 87,000 of them.
— Planned Parenthood (@PPAWI) September 2, 2015
Appling, however, argued Planned Parenthood would not be reaching rural women in need of reproductive care. She said barely any of the 22 Planned Parenthood clinics in Wisconsin are north of the Stevens Point area.
Tayna Atkinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood, said in the statement Planned Parenthood is a vital part of the Wisconsin community.
“Families in Wisconsin are suffering, especially in the more rural parts of our state, struggling to access affordable preventative care at the community level,” Atkinson said. “It is time for politicians in Madison to stop the vendetta against Planned Parenthood and start supporting women.”