September 28, 2015 — The Wisconsin Assembly on Thursday voted 60-35 to pass a bill (AB 310) that would remove $3.5 million in federal funding to Planned Parenthood, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.
According to the AP/Chronicle, the bill next goes to the state Senate for a vote, which would likely happen in October. Gov. Scott Walker (R) has expressed his support for the measure (Bauer, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 9/24).
The vote to end funding follows the release of misleading videos from the antiabortion-rights group Center for Medical Progress, which depict Planned Parenthood staff discussing fetal tissue donation. Planned Parenthood has stated that the videos were heavily edited and that the filmed officials did not conduct any illegal activities. The organization said it does not profit from fetal tissue donations and only receives reimbursement for costs associated with such donations, which is legal (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/27).
Planned Parenthood has challenged several states' efforts to end Medicaid funding for the organization, including Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana. HHS has warned Alabama and Louisiana cutting Planned Parenthood's federal funding could violate federal law. Meanwhile, a federal judge earlier this month ruled that Arkansas must temporarily reinstate Planned Parenthood's Medicaid contract (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/21).
The bill, introduced by Rep. Andre Jacque (R), would prohibit any abortion provider or affiliate from receiving Title X funding. Instead, the state would allocate those funds to the Wisconsin Well-Woman program, which screens women between ages 45 and 64 for breast and cervical cancer. Further, the measure would allow employees of health centers that receive federal funds to refuse to dispense contraception on religious grounds.
Meanwhile, two other antiabortion-rights bills have yet to be considered. One (AB 311) would reduce by about $4 million federal reimbursements to Planned Parenthood for contraception, while the other measure (AB 305) would ban fetal tissue research.
Women's Health Organizations Oppose Bill
Tanya Atkinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, said her organization will continue to make sure that patients "receive the quality, nonjudgmental health care they need -- no matter what." According to the AP/Chronicle, Planned Parenthood each year provides health care statewide for 60,000 people.
Separately, the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Coalition and the Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health said revoking Planned Parenthood's Title X funding could cause some women to lose access to health care services (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 9/24).