With abortion services suspended, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is working to increase the availability of birth control and family planning services at their Madison and Milwaukee clinics, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Planned Parenthood has 22 health centers across the state, according to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Spokesperson Lisa Boyce. Three of those 22 locations – Madison, Milwaukee and Sheboygan – provided abortion services prior to the overturn of Roe v. Wade in June.
Boyce said family planning services were added to the Madison and Milwaukee clinics that previously only offered abortion services. These services include access to all FDA-approved birth control forms and emergency contraception.
Additionally, Boyce said Planned Parenthood offers STD testing and treatment, cervical cancer screenings, HIV testing and referral services.
“We know now that abortion is severely restricted, that we need to do more than ever to ensure people have information about and access to the different birth control methods that will work best for them,” Boyce said. “Preventing unintended pregnancy is of the utmost importance in this moment. And by adding access to birth control, services and counseling at those two locations, we’re hoping to give people more tools to take charge of their health.”
Without Roe v. Wade, Wisconsin reverted to an 1849 abortion statute that classifies providing an abortion in almost all cases a Class H felony, punishable by up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Convicted physicians might also lose their medical licenses.
But neighboring states such as Illinois and Minnesota still provide legal abortions, according to WSJ. A large number of Wisconsinites are now crossing the border from Wisconsin and other states to obtain these services, Boyce said.
One Planned Parenthood clinic offering abortion services in Illinois saw an average of 35 patients per month prior to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, Boyce said. Now that same clinic is seeing 350 Wisconsin patients per month.
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According to Boyce, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin will continue to improve access and pivot available resources. A number of staff commute to Illinois to expand access to abortion, while two patient navigators work with women who are trying to understand the new landscape.
“Our criminal abortion ban has penalties just for the providers of that care, and individuals who have questions or healthcare needs should not be fearful to seek information or healthcare in the state of Wisconsin,” Boyce said. “It is not illegal for people to ask questions or even be seen by a provider for care that they need … So I just want to encourage people to make sure that they get answers to the questions they have and access to the healthcare they need.”