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December 28, 2011
Letter from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Wisconsin, Teri Huyck
As we begin this New Year with high hopes for good health and a change of priorities, I would like to take a minute to reflect on the last year and the unprecedented attack on women’s health care access which has been unlike anything I have ever seen in my lifetime.
We are in the greatest economic recession since the Great Depression and while Wisconsin citizens are doing their best to weather decreased wages, lost jobs and health insurance fee hikes and coverage reductions, state legislative leadership has instead, been focused on advancing their personal social agendas. This year alone, eight legislative proposals seeking to limit access to essential health care services and information have been introduced in the Wisconsin State Legislature. The Legislature premiered their agenda on women’s health by eliminating $1 million dollars in state funds directed to the essential preventative care of women seen at Planned Parenthood.
After eliminating our ability to provide prevention services under the state family planning program, Governor Walker, through his political appointee, Department of Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith, has now focused on compromising the Well Woman Program at Planned Parenthood and reducing access for thousands of more individuals and families currently on BadgerCare starting July 1, 2012.
Despite an exemplary16 year partnership with the state facilitating cancer care to women in Winnebago, Outagamie, Sheboygan and Fond du Lac counties, Governor Walker has suddenly and inexplicably ended Planned Parenthood’s role in facilitating care to 1,000 women currently enrolled in the Well Woman program effective December 31, 2011. Without a ready alternative plan for how the state plans to deliver breast and cervical cancer care under the WWWP program in the four affected counties, 1,000 women currently receiving breast and cervical cancer care have been left without anywhere to turn putting their health and lives at risk. Additionally, two legislative proposals have been introduced to eliminate Planned Parenthood’s ability to provide breast and cervical cancer screenings and referrals to any woman in the Well Woman program, putting thousands more women seeking cancer care at risk.
And if reducing access to preventive health care services like birth control and life-saving cancer screens wasn’t enough, legislative leaders continue their push for a repeal of the Healthy Youth Act to end comprehensive sex education programs in schools. Despite the fact that investment in these prevention-based services and information will ultimately save taxpayers millions in annual costs associated with unintended pregnancy and STDs and result in a healthier, more economically viable community, these programs are targeted to be cut.
Unfortunately, the insanity does not stop there. The latest is a bill seeking to amend the Wisconsin Constitution to grant legal personhood rights to a fertilized egg which threatens to outlaw fertility treatment, birth control and abortion. Under this narrow minded proposal inspired by the one recently defeated in Mississippi, miscarriage could even be cause for criminal investigation.
While the political motivations behind all of these attacks could not be clearer and will surely take resources away from the people who turn to Planned Parenthood for care -- we welcome the opportunity to tell the Wisconsin people about the work Planned Parenthood does every day to detect and prevent cancer and STDs, to help parents and teens talk about healthy relationships, to reduce unintended pregnancy, and to provide safe, legal abortion care.
Planned Parenthood is a trusted nonprofit provider of professional, reliable, high-quality health care. More than 97% of what we do every day is preventive, including life-saving cancer screenings, annual exams, birth control and STD testing and treatment -- to 70,000 women, men, and teens each year across Wisconsin.
Since the beginning of this legislative attack on women’s access to reproductive health care, Planned Parenthood has been there to serve thousands of women and families with the essential health care they need and deserve. So while the legislative leadership continue to push their personal social agendas during this economic downturn, Planned Parenthood remains committed to our priority of providing essential health care services and education to keep women and our communities safe healthy and strong. We call on the public who shares these same priorities to urge their elected leaders to break away from the pack mentality, stand up for what is right, and end these senseless attacks on women’s health care access and sex education.
We hope next year our Representatives will remember the women of Wisconsin and know that we care about our access to health care, and that we are watching.