The state Assembly voted Thursday to strip Planned Parenthood of about $3.5 million in government funding a year.
The measure passed, 60-35, with all Republicans backing it and all Democrats opposing it. It now goes to the Senate, which like the Assembly is controlled by Republicans.
The debate came as Republicans struggle over separate legislation that would ban research using fetal tissue from abortions. One legislative leader said Thursday he hoped to find a compromise on the measure by next month.
Eliminating Planned Parenthood’s funding has gained momentum following the release of videos by abortion opponents that show a Planned Parenthood official in California discussing the cost of providing fetal body parts for medical research.
“Planned Parenthood is nothing more than a maintenance garage that treats women like sex objects,” Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) said.
“Women need access to real health care. Let’s get that done.”
Republicans said citizens opposed to abortion should not have to fund the state’s largest abortion provider with their tax dollars.
Instead, services should be offered by providers that do not have ties to groups that perform abortions.
Democrats argued the effort to block federal money from going to Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin would increase public health problems and future taxpayer costs by causing people without other options to lose access to birth control and screenings for sexually transmitted diseases.
“It’s a political vendetta, and the collateral damage is going to be women in poverty,” Rep. Debra Kolste (D-Janesville) said.
The bill would prevent the state from passing on federal money it receives through the Title X grant program to any group that provides abortions or has an affiliate that provides abortions. Title X money goes toward family planning and health screening for the poor and uninsured and is not allowed to be used for abortions.
Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin receives about $3.5 million in Title X money a year. Republicans and GOP Gov. Scott Walker in 2011 cut off other funding for Planned Parenthood.
Under the bill, the state’s separate Wisconsin Well Woman Program and other public health programs get first draw for receiving federal funding, with nonprofits getting whatever funds remain, if any. The Well Woman Program provides breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings for women between the ages of 45 and 64.
Critics of the proposal have praised the Well Woman Program but pointed out that it doesn’t serve younger women or men. The Wisconsin Breast Cancer Coalition said in a statement this week that the measure could keep women from getting health care.
Supporters of the proposal have said other efforts would be targeted to men and younger women but have not provided a detailed plan for that.
Rep. David Murphy (R-Greenville) missed the vote so he could hold a campaign fundraiser in Appleton. He had himself recorded as supporting the measure and said he would have been at Thursday’s session if there was any question the vote would be close.
The Assembly vote came the same day Democrats in the U.S. Senate blocked a spending bill that would have cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
[24 Sept 2015, Patrick Marley, http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/assembly-to-consider-stripping-planned-parenthood-of-more-funding-b99583192z1-329087701.html ]