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Although lawmakers promised to focus on the economy and creating jobs, instead states are now focusing on abortion. Wisconsin and Tennessee are the latest in a string of states trying to cut funding for Planned Parenthood because the organization provides abortions.
In Wisconsin, the Joint Finance Committee voted last week to block state family planning grants from any group that provides abortions, or abortion referrals. Despite the well documented fact that those funds cannot legally be used to pay for abortions, Wisconsin lawmakers are wasting valuable tax payer dollars to prevent something that is already prohibited. This proposed legislation would cut nearly a million dollars a year from nine Planned Parenthood clinics across Wisconsin. The committee also voted to exclude men from the state run family planning program, Badger Care, and to lower the income eligibility for the program.
“What they’re trying to do makes our family planning program so dramatically different from what it was that the federal government could say, “This isn’t what we agreed on,’ and the program ends,” said a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. BadgerCare currently serves 60,000 patients in Wisconsin, many of whom have very limited access to low-cost preventative care and family planning services.
Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) said he would make deeper cuts to Planned Parenthood if he could, because he believes the organization promotes abortion, despite statistics that say abortions account for less than 3 percent of its services. “There’s a very ugly side to this organization, and I regret that they’re going to take such a tiny cut in this budget,” Grothman said.
Lawmakers in Tennessee are also attempting to pass a bill that would pull Title X funding from “third party providers or private organizations or entities,” which means Planned Parenthood. Again, even though no Title X funding pays for abortion and the funding will be pulled from essential and useful services such as family planning, cancer screenings, and STD testing.
Planned Parenthood believes that the likely legislation in Tennessee would impact three clinics and a total of 9,000 patients. The organization is busy working on a contingency plan that would keep its doors open. “One thing that’s sure is none of our clinics will close. It’s gonna be difficult, but we’re committed to providing service to the women in need,” said Jeff Teague, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee.