State Rep. Chris Taylor

The Attack on Planned Parenthood

Abortion opponents harass clinic staff and oppose birth control.

By - Jul 30th, 2015 12:21 pm
A rally in support of Planned Parenthood in 2012.

A rally in support of Planned Parenthood in 2012.

When I went to work for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (PPWI) in 2003 as their legislative director, I was unprepared for the attacks this organization experiences on a routine basis. There are organizations solely dedicated to shutting Planned Parenthood down, and more pop up every day. Even before the 2010 tea party takeover in state Capitols around the country, including ours, the relentless legal and political attacks on Planned Parenthood were unending.

I thought I knew something about courage, but what I learned at PPWI was that I knew nothing about it. The staff and physicians who walk into a health center every day, who are targeted and harassed while their workplace is sometimes vandalized and threatened, are the heroes. And they do it every day because there are thousands of women in our state who simply wouldn’t have access to birth control, cervical and breast cancer screens or testing and treatment for Sexually Transmitted Diseases without PPWI. Even though abortion is only a tiny piece of the services PPWI provides, it is a critical service. And there are people in our state who risk their lives every day to provide it.

When I was elected as a state representative, I saw the attempts to shut PPWI and abortion access down up close and personal. Some legislators in our state capitol are there solely to make abortion, and birth control, illegal. And they will stop at nothing to do it.

You can see their efforts now in their reaction to the latest smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. Newly proposed state legislation is targeted not only at abortion, but also at birth control. A new bill would lower birth control reimbursement rates for safety net providers serving low-income women to a level that could shut most or all of these health centers down. And though Governor Walker and legislative Republicans have already denied any state funding for birth control and cancer detection efforts PPWI provides (no public monies can be used for abortion services), they now are attempting to deny any federal family planning funds to providers, including PPWI.

And it is a national effort. At the recent annual American Legislative Exchange Council (“ALEC”), the newest smear campaign against Planned Parenthood was cause célèbre for the Republican presidential candidates selling their wares. Despite the fact that ALEC purports not to address social issues including abortion, on the other side of the convention wall were the national anti-abortion groups exhibiting their model policies and rubber fetuses. ALEC and the anti-abortion movement have many of the same funding sources and have the same goals –electing Republicans across this country who will carry out their agendas.

Under the ALEC banner of free markets and limited government, Scott Walker touted defunding PPWI, though he failed to mention that the result was the shutting down of five mostly rural health centers that didn’t provide abortions but cervical and breast cancer screens (new numbers just released last week show that 25% fewer women had access to a women’s health center in 2013 than in 2010.) Mike Huckabee referred to the legalization of abortion as the prime example of our country’s moral depravity. Ted Cruz, the most verbally strident of the three, speaking by video at the conference, referenced specifically shutting down Planned Parenthood. Though all three talked about smaller government, it apparently doesn’t apply to women’s private medical decisions, when they want government as big and intrusive as possible.

But the biggest lesson I have learned about reproductive health issues hasn’t been in the Capitol or even working at PPWI, but as a woman who struggled through six pregnancies, more than half unsuccessfully. The biggest lesson I learned is that decisions women make about our reproductive health aren’t about death, but about life. About living. Whether we are making decisions when faced with an unintended pregnancy, or when a wanted pregnancy goes heartbreakingly wrong, we are simply trying to live the life we imagine for ourselves and our families.

And this is where the right is the most out of touch. They want to talk about death and fetal tissue and body parts, leaving women out of the discussion on abortion and reproductive health. They ignore the reality of women’s lives, and the dreams that we have for ourselves and the families we may, or may not, someday have.

To the right, they want to stamp out abortion by stamping out Planned Parenthood. But what they really want is to stamp out our ability to make the most personal, private decisions about our lives. They are using the latest campaign to shut down Planned Parenthood to do just that.

We must make sure that doesn’t happen.

Chris Taylor, D-Madison, represents District 76 in the Wisconsin Assembly.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

31 thoughts on “Op-Ed: The Attack on Planned Parenthood”

  1. AG says:

    Those brave souls who, in the face of morals and the idea of not murdering unborn children, decide to stay the course and push on to serve an organization that has killed more children than any other in our country. I salute you and your fortitude.

  2. PMD says:

    Holy extreme right-wing lunacy AG. Are you feeling OK? You sound like one of those people who believe it’s OK to murder a doctor who performs abortions. I’d expect a post like that from WCD or Scott Roeder.

  3. AG says:

    I do play a moderate on TV… but when it comes to life, I don’t compromise on it’s value. I appreciate a woman’s right to make her own health decisions, but that doesn’t trump the right to live for her unborn child. It’s that same value of life that keeps the option to murder the doctors off the table. :-/

  4. PMD says:

    It sure doesn’t sound like you appreciate it. It sounds like you think you have the right to make those choices for her.

  5. AG says:

    Healthcare choices… are fine. Decision to take the life of another being, no. I also believe my neighbor does not have the right to murder her children of 2, 4, and 7 years.

  6. AG says:

    Oops, sorry. I also do not support my neighbor’s healthcare provider harvesting her children’s organs and selling the body parts to the highest bidder.

  7. PMD says:

    And normally you seem so reasonable. On this, a frothing-at-the-mouth, totally misinformed simpleton shoving signs into women’s faces as they enter a clinic. Sorry you can get back to watching heavily doctored videos now while pretending to be an OB/GYN.

  8. AG says:

    Come on… personal attacks? I understand when you use them on some of the posters here… but I didn’t expect this.

    Anyway… the question comes down to, is it taking a life or not. Everything else flows from there.

  9. PMD says:

    It’s how you seem here AG. Sorry if that’s uncomfortable for you. I didn’t expect what you’re spouting here either, so I guess we’re even.

  10. Tyrell Track Master says:

    AG – if you don’t like abortion, don’t have one. You really have no right to tell women what to do with their bodies, so scram buddy.

  11. AG says:

    Tyrell, what of the body of her child? It’s one thing to tell someone what they can and can’t do with their body… but when you’re talking about a pregnant woman you’re now talking about two people, two bodies, two lives.

  12. Casey says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought planned parenthood doesn’t preform abortions in WI.

  13. Tim says:

    Casey, what do facts have to do with this?

  14. AG says:

    Sorry Casey, Planned Parenthood has a Milwaukee location that performs abortions.

  15. SteveM says:

    AG appears to fall into that group that values the life of that baby until it’s born…no gray area allowed. I firmly believe that anyone that expresses an opinion that strongly about abortion has never really known anyone that had to get one and has a very strong God complex. simple answers for complex problems.

  16. PMD says:

    It’s also unfortunate that seemingly intelligent, rational people would take as gospel heavily doctored videos produced by an extremist organization. PP does not sell fetal tissue. Also, fetal tissue research dates back to the 1930s and is extremely valuable and important.


    “The study of fetal tissue has already led to major discoveries in human health,” Samuel M. Cohen, a microbiologist at the University of Nebraska, testified before Congress in 2009.

    There’s also the issue of PP and the services they provide. Abortion (which is LEGAL) is a tiny percentage of what they do. They provide extremely valuable health services , especially for women in poverty, and help prevent unintended pregnancies.

  17. Barb West Bend says:

    Why don’t ‘right to life’ advocates work to get legislation passed banning or defunding wars. Blown up body parts aren’t a pretty sight either but we are usually spared from viewing that. A victim of war, including a pregnant woman, is just as dead as an aborted fetus. The moralists want to make all abortions a crime, while they consider the innocent victims killed in war…collateral damage. Until wars have been defunded and banned, I I will continue to support Planned Parenthood, and a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion.

  18. AG says:

    SteveM, the value of life does not end at birth… that’s rather preposterous… I do know people who’ve had abortions, some for more defensible reasons than others. But I can think of few reasons why taking a life is better than helping people who struggle with life.

    PMD, that’s a text book “ends justifies the means” argument. As far as abortions as part of what they do, more than 10% of their clients get abortions and over 30% of their local clinic services revenue (and 10% of overall revenue) comes from abortion procedures. That makes it not insignificant portion of what they do. If they decided to perform all their other services besides abortions, I’d be very happy.

  19. Casey says:

    Barb- Why not do both?Because the goverment funds one type of killing it justifies another? Lets defund all killing of other human beings whether a fetus or a civilian in a war torn country.

  20. PMD says:

    97 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are not abortion. That and they prevent more than 200,000 abortions per year.

    Would you like to make it a crime AG?

  21. AG says:

    Walgreens prevents more unwanted pregnancies than PP does… doesn’t make them hero’s.

    And that’s 3% of services… self reported numbers based on unbundled services. They highly skew that number. Plus almost every pregnant woman who goes to PP receives abortion services. You can find many many sources on this, here’s the first one google gave me:

  22. John says:

    Abortions should be rare and only after a significant amount of counseling from family planners and medical practitioners. Abortions have likely existed since before the written word, well before Roe v. Wade. This concept appears to be lost on knuckledraggers like AG who seem to think that the repeal of that ruling would somehow cease abortions from existing. Seems to be a trend with these types, non-critical thinkers. As long as unwanted pregnancies occur, they will happen. It’s better people receive the appropriate counseling and medical attention these things require, done in safe and legal environments. A return to what was practiced prior does no one any favors. It really is that simple.

    Following what I wrote above completely ignores how people define when life begins, which really is immaterial.

  23. John says:

    Oh, and I am tickled AG shares an article from Life News. A website which bills itself as pro-life news source.

    Definitely an impartial ‘news’ source.

  24. AG says:

    Ignoring the presumptions and insults, John’s post is summed up well here: “Following what I wrote above completely ignores how people define when life begins, which really is immaterial.”

    Indeed, when life begins must be immaterial to believe taking the life of an unborn child is ok.

  25. PMD says:

    Yeah Life News isn’t really a source I trust on this issue AG. It hardly gets more biased than that. You might as well use Brother Ron as a source.

    Should abortion be criminalized?

  26. AG says:

    The Life News link wasn’t the source I was talking about, the numbers contained within their article that belong to PP itself was what I was referring to. Your response is ad hominem and I’d much prefer you discuss the numbers than the link. Please tell me if you dispute that over 90% of pregnant women who seek services from PP receive an abortion. OR tell me if you dispute that the 3% of all services is a skewed stat that understates how large a part of their operation abortions are.

    Regarding criminalizing: with a debatable level of exceptions, yes.

  27. PMD says:

    Well if nothing else we have learned who AG’s pick for president is:

    Oh and I suppose we learned why this issue isn’t considered fit for dinner table conversation.

  28. AG says:

    If there is a limited government, fiscally conservative, pro-life candidate with a strong sense of protecting national security that supports marriage equality, amnesty, public transportation, and economically smart renewable energy while also supporting a “hand up” not a “hand out” kind of welfare system and reasonable gun control then I think I may have found my perfect candidate.

    (I really wanted to add a lot more contradictory items to that list… but as is it’s already a pretty bad run-on sentence)

  29. PMD says:

    Does a single candidate even come close to meeting that criteria? If only. Even I’m on board for most of what you listed, but I can’t think of someone that’s even close (unfortunately).

  30. Marie says:

    Defunding Planned Parenthood is purely about raising funds and votes for right-right candidates. It’s the most cynical hijacking of social and health services imaginable. And Scott Walker is working that mercenary tactic with gusto. As it appears are all the GOP WH candidates–even ones like Pataki who was pro-choice and pro PP forever.

    What is the alternative to making birth control and women’s health care accessible? What is the alternative to safe abortion services? Since the Supreme Court made gay bashing a no-no, the GOP has to double down on bashing the rights of women to access reproductive care.

  31. PMD says:

    The GOP doesn’t care about birth control or safe abortions or what happens once women give birth. A massive increase in unintended pregnancies is perfectly fine.

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