Paul Adair is a 21-year Germantown resident, retired scientist, writer, and lecturer.
One of the first accomplishments of the new Republican legislative majority in 2011 was to end state funding of Planned Parenthood. A million dollars a year that had gone to diagnosing and treating STD's, to providing contraceptives, and to cancer screening was stopped. As part of the budget bill for that year, your State Representative, Dan Knodl and your State Senator, Alberta Darling voted for the measure. Scott Walker was so proud of denying Wisconsin women basic medical care that he frequently crowed about it to crowds in Iowa and New Hampshire.
However ending state funding of the health clinics was not enough punishment for Wisconsin women. Radicals in our legislature, including Knodl and Darling, have decided that it is important to end federal money going to Wisconsin Planned Parenthood clinics, too.
Last year's infamous "baby parts" videos claimed that Planned Parenthood was profiting from aborted fetuses. Despite being clearly bogus, many in the anti-choice movement saw this an as an opportunity to deal a death-blow to Planned Parenthood. The sharks started circling. The House voted to end Title X funding and held exhaustive hearings. Eleven states started investigations. A GOP presidential candidate vividly described a grotesque operating room scene that never actually happened.
Fortunately, the witch-hunt is over. PP President Cecile Richards survived a grueling testimony in front of a hostile Congress. Despite the highest hopes of the anti-choicers, none of the eleven states found any wrongdoing on the part of PP. Federal Title X funds are still going to the organization. The only thing coming out of all of this attempted lynching of PP was a justified felony indictment of the perpetrators of the sham videos.
But that didn't stop our state politicians from exploiting the fake videos. Responding to a 2015 inquiry from Breitbart "News", Scott Walker's office issued a statement, "Governor Walker finds the recently released videos of Planned Parenthood disturbing and abhorrent, and he will work with members of the State Legislature to pass legislation to ban these practices in Wisconsin and address concerns about this organization. While Governor Walker already defunded Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin, he supports additional changes to Wisconsin law to restrict federal funds that flow to Planned Parenthood as well."
Emerging from the new Wisconsin GOP anti-choice crusade are two bills that allow the state to interfere with federal monies going to Planned Parenthood. SB 238 severely limits the Medicaid reimbursement that clinics can receive for issued contraceptives and for drugs to treat STD's and TB. The reimbursement will be limited to the cost of the drugs and a small disbursement fee. So the full cost of providing treatment, such as staff, utilities, and overhead are not covered. The state Legislative Bureau estimates that this law will cost Wisconsin healthcare clinics almost $800,000 annually.
Both Knodl and Darling voted with the majority to pass this bill that will cut the number of people getting treatment for tuberculosis. With fewer young and poor women having access to contraceptives, their votes will increase the number of out-of-wedlock births. Knodl not only voted for to cut money going to perform critical public health services, but he actually sponsored it.
The second bill, AB 310, prohibits federal Title X funds from going to Wisconsin health clinics like Planned Parenthood. By federal law, Title X family planning funds are not allowed to be used for providing abortion services. Every dollar invested in this program is estimated to save taxpayers $5.68. The program is estimated to prevent 1.2 million unintended pregnancies and 403,000 abortions annually. Under the program, millions are screened for syphilis, AIDS, gonorrhea, and chlamydia -helping to keep these STD's at less horrific levels.
But not in Wisconsin. Our legislature doesn't want state women to have access to reproductive health services. Last week, our State Senate voted to disallow Planned Parenthood from receiving as much as $3.5 million in federal Title X funds annually. Alberta Darling voted with the Senate majority on this bill that will increase the incidence of syphilis in our state. Dan Knodl voted with the Assembly majority to increase the number of Wisconsin abortions. In fact, Knodl actually sponsored this monstrous bill. Just who are these people representing?
These two bills to de-fund reproductive health clinics only need to be signed by Walker to become law. Of course he will sign them. His conservative cred is much more important that the health of Wisconsin citizens. However, it remains to be seen whether the Department of Health and Human Services will allow this short-sighted state interference into what is a federal program.