National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Wis. Gov. signs bills to cut abortion providers' federal funding

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Thursday signed two bills that will cut abortion providers' public funding by millions of dollars, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Sacramento Bee reports (Paulsen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Sacramento Bee, 2/19).

Legislation details

The new laws are part of a legislative package aimed at Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. The legislation was introduced by conservatives following an antiabortion-rights group's release of a series of misleading videos targeting Planned Parenthood (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/12).

One bill (SB 238, AB 311) Walker signed on Thursday reduces abortion providers' Medicaid reimbursements for birth control drugs (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Sacramento Bee, 2/19). Under the legislation, family planning clinics that get discounted contraceptive drugs via Medicaid are permitted to bill Medicaid only for the drug acquisition and dispensing costs. The change will cut about $4.5 million in annual funding from Planned Parenthood (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/12).

Walker also signed into law another bill (SB 237, AB 310) that blocks the state from directing federal Title X funding to organizations that provide abortion care (Ehlke, AP/Sacramento Bee, 2/18). The legislation will cut $3.5 million in federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

A third bill (S 260, AB 305) in the package would prohibit the sale or donation of fetal tissue procured since Jan. 1, as well as any research on the tissue. Researchers who violate the bill could receive up to six years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines. That bill has stalled in both chambers (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/12).

Comments

Nicole Safar, director of government relations at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, said SB 238 "is directed ... at Planned Parenthood. It's to cut our funding so we can't provide services." She added, "Legal action is certainly on the table. The law singles out Planned Parenthood" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 2/18). Opponents of the measure have said it will be struck down in court (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2/19).

Regarding SB 237, Safar said the organization would independently compete for Title X funding during the next grant cycle for the program.

Noting that the bills were signed at a crisis pregnancy center, Safar added, "It really is disingenuous to be talking about cuts to health care at an organization that provides religious counseling, but no health care" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 2/18).

Tanya Atkinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, said, "The political motivation behind these bills is clear. Opponents of women's health will stop at nothing to prevent Planned Parenthood from providing much needed medical care in the community" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Sacramento Bee, 2/19).