By Ariele Vaccaro
A new bill that would give the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) priority over Planned Parenthood for Title X funding garnered passionate support and opposition during a Wednesday assembly hearing at the state capitol.
Approval of Assembly Bill 310 could lead to the redirecting of money used for preventative care like breast exams, STD and STI testing, cervical cancer screenings, and birth control by Planned Parenthood to the state’s DHS for its Well Woman program.
This sounds like good news to some people who testified at the Wednesday hearing.
Heather Weininger of Wisconsin Right to Life offered that the bill would open the door for other organizations to use the funding.
Others saw it as a way to stifle the number of abortions in the state.
Matt Sande, director of legislation at Pro-Life Wisconsin, said that defunding the state’s largest provider of abortions was his reason for supporting the bill.
“This is another big step in the right direction,” said Sande.
Planned Parenthood took a loss in 2011 when Walker took Title V funding from the nonprofit.
Others saw the bill as detriment to women’s access to healthcare, however.
Beth Hartung, president of the Wisconsin Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, said that women, especially of low income, are currently struggling to find affordable healthcare.
She predicted that the bill would make it more difficult for those women to get the reproductive care they need.
“I’ve heard over and over again how access is not a problem… It is absolutely a problem,” Hartung said.
Planned Parenthood receives about $3.5 million annually from Title X and serves about 60,000 women.