Attacking Planned Parenthood = Attacking Women
Make no mistake, when this legislature attacks PPWI, they are really attacking women’s ability to access life-saving health care...
Last week, the Wisconsin Senate passed yet another bill, SB 238/AB 311, aimed at shutting down one of Wisconsin’s oldest, largest and most trusted women’s healthcare centers, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (PPWI). This most recent attack on women’s healthcare will make it more difficult and expensive for health centers to provide birth control and other prescription medication to Wisconsin’s women. This disastrous legislation creates a double standard among healthcare providers and treats the women they serve as second-class citizens.
Currently, the federal 340B reduced cost prescription drug program allows safety net healthcare providers, including PPWI, to administer prescription drugs at reduced prices with the goal of stretching resources, providing comprehensive services, and reaching the maximum number of patients who are in need. SB 238/AB 311 requires certain reproductive health centers to bill Medicaid for the actual acquisition costs and dispensing fees for prescription drugs.
Covered entities participating in the 340B program are expected to serve the most vulnerable patient populations. In Wisconsin, there are over 700 hospitals, clinics, hemophilia centers, and HIV/AIDS organizations that are 340B covered entities. Of those 700 hospitals and clinics, PPWI is the only health care provider who will experience a slash in reimbursement prices.
Republicans seem intent on attempting to shut down as many PPWI health centers as possible. Already, since Governor Walker and legislative Republicans came to power, five rural PPWI health centers have closed. These health centers did not provide abortions, as no public money can be used by either federal or state laws for abortions, but did provide preventive health care, including cervical and breast cancer screenings. Despite the fact that ready access to these services saves lives and taxpayer dollars, no other providers have stepped in to provide this care.
Though Republicans attempted to fuel their obsession with shutting down Planned Parenthood with heavily edited and misleading videos released this summer, reality struck this week when a Texas grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing and indicted the creators of the videos for paying money for fetal parts. In fact, officials in 10 other states have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing and another 8 have declined to investigate due to a complete lack of evidence.
Every year in Wisconsin, community-based reproductive healthcare providers such as PPWI prevent 7,200 abortions, 21,200 unintended pregnancies, 1,500 new STI cases and 25 cervical cancer cases. We should all agree that this is a good thing. The legislature should be doing more to ensure these critical health care services are available, not putting obstacle after obstacle in the path of Wisconsin women who desperately need this care.
All Wisconsin women deserve access to affordable health care and the right to make their own personal, private decisions without politicians standing in the way.
Make no mistake, when this legislature attacks PPWI, they are really attacking women’s ability to access life-saving health care, to plan and space pregnancies, and to decide for themselves if and when they become parents. At the end of the day this struggle over reproductive health care is really about women having the ability to control their own destiny, free from intrusive politicians who think they know better.