By Emily Claypool
WWN Reproductive Rights Task Force
On September 24th, the Wisconsin State Assembly passed a bill which will further cut funding to Planned Parenthood and community health centers, and will allow healthcare providers to refuse to provide patients with life-saving family planning, birth control, and cancer and STI screening services. The freedom for men and women to access healthcare is at stake as this proposal moves on to the State Senate.
The reality is that defunding Planned Parenthood threatens lives in underserved communities by preventing the most vulnerable among us from receiving life-saving preventative health care. In fact, preventative care makes up 99 percent of Planned Parenthood services. Eliminating Title X funding for patients who access care at Planned Parenthood and other safety net health providers means more barriers to cancer screenings, pregnancy prevention, as well as testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Assembly Bill 310 is not just an attack on Planned Parenthood; it is an attack on the communities who depend on these services. Planned Parenthood services a total of 60,000 women and men in Wisconsin and 2.7 people nationwide each year.1 in 5 women will depend on the quality services of Planned Parenthood in their lifetime, including 400,000 Pap tests, approximately 500,000 breast examinations and almost 4.5 million tests for sexually transmitted illnesses (including HIV). At Planned Parenthood no one is turned away from receiving services due to their inability to pay.
The Title X family planning program is an essential national program dedicated to ensuring all people can access the health care services they need regardless of their age or income. Planned Parenthood has effectively administered the Title X grant in Wisconsin for over 35 years to ensure women and men across Wisconsin can access essential preventative care. Ending Title X funding as proposed in AB 310 without a new plan to administer the funding would mean 50,000 individuals in Wisconsin will lose access to services like cancer screenings, Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) tests and treatment and birth control services.
While the bill’s author, Senator Kapenga, suggests that adolescents, women and men can seek healthcare elsewhere, there are few viable options. Primary care clinics and community health clinics do not have the infrastructure to support the underserved and underinsured populations that Planned Parenthood serves. These “other options” often do not have a sliding payment scale, accept only a small percentage of Medicaid patients, and do not serve patients who are undocumented. If Planned Parenthood is defunded, these politicians need a plan to ensure women and men in Wisconsin maintain access to these essential health care services.
Assembly Bill 310 comes at a high cost and puts the lives of adolescents, men and women who need the essential health care support of Planned Parenthood and other Title X community health clinics at risk.