April 10, 2017 – Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling pens op ed to Journal Sentinel:
Few things raise the blood pressure of good-hearted citizens in this state as much as the abortion debate, and, specifically, the controversy over public funding of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s and our state’s largest abortion provider. Because this matter affects some of the most vulnerable in our society — the unborn and the mothers who carry them — it demands our attention, careful consideration and perhaps even our collective elevated blood pressure. Critical to this discussion is exposing and debunking the false choice being presented.
We have been told, repeatedly and firmly, that support for women’s health and specifically women’s reproductive health, absolutely requires support for Planned Parenthood as an organization and not just generic support but public funding — that is, taxpayer funding —of this not-for-profit. If we do not publicly fund Planned Parenthood, we are told, then women will not have access to reproductive health care.
That is complete and utter nonsense.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin operates 21 clinics in the state. Of those, seven are in Madison and Milwaukee. According to the Planned Parenthood website, two of them — one each in Madison and Milwaukee — actually perform abortions, with the others referring for and counseling in favor of this life-taking procedure. Planned Parenthood clinics are typically located in densely populated areas where they can be assured of making the most money.
In contrast, Wisconsin has well more than 100 free or low-cost clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers, Rural Health Centers and Tribal Health Centers across the state in the vast majority of counties. The medical clinics provide an array of services for men, women and children who have little or no insurance. In addition, Wisconsin’s Medicaid and BadgerCare Plus provide coverage for low-income residents, and the state’s Family Planning Only Services provides certain family-planning services and supplies to men and women as young as 15, “to prevent unplanned pregnancies.”
These alternatives to Planned Parenthood are far more geographically accessible for the majority of women in Wisconsin. Why do we need to fund the geographically limited Planned Parenthood clinics when we have all of these other options available for women?
The answer, at least in part, is money. Some of these non-Planned Parenthood clinics that receive state and federal funds have a lobbyist or an organization that represents them to the Legislature, reminding elected officials to allocate money or asking for more funding each biennium. But none of them has the lobbying presence and grassroots organization of Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood Advocates. Planned Parenthood’s Political Action Committee spends considerable amounts of money ensuring sympathetic legislators get elected each cycle. These elected officials are quite happy to stand with and advocate for Planned Parenthood, even to wearing “I Stand with Planned Parenthood” shirts on the Assembly floor.
The truth is there are many more options for health care for women across the state than the 21 Planned Parenthood clinics in mostly urban areas. These other clinics offer many services, including care for pregnant women and their children, and, extremely important to many Wisconsin citizens is that, unlike Planned Parenthood, none of them perform abortions.
Public funding withdrawn from Planned Parenthood can and should be used to increase the services offered women by these clinics. No one wants women without available and accessible health care. But taxpayer dollars should not go to organizations that perform, refer for or counsel in favor of abortions. It’s really this simple. If Planned Parenthood really cares about women’s health, it can keep the taxpayer money that makes up 50% of its revenue by getting out of the abortion business. That’s a very real choice Planned Parenthood can make, but who believes that will ever happen?