Behind the Assault on Planned Parenthood

January 25, 2016

The Republican-controlled state Senate recently approved bills that cut $7.5 million a year in government payments for health care services provided by Planned Parenthood because the group performs abortions, which GOP lawmakers generally oppose.

The measures approved by the Senate on party line votes were:

Senate Bill 238, which would limit how much Planned Parenthood could be reimbursed for prescription drugs through Medicaid, cutting as much as $4 million a year to the group;

Assembly Bill 310, which prevents the state from transferring federal dollars for family planning and health screening for poor and uninsured women to any group that provides abortions or has an affiliate that performs abortions. The bill would cut another $3.5 million a year that the government pays to Planned Parenthood.

AB238 now goes to the Assembly, which wants to finish work its work for the 2015-16 legislative session next month. AB310, which was approved by the Assembly last fall, now goes to Walker.

The measures are backed by Pro-Life Wisconsin, Wisconsin Right to Life and Wisconsin Family Action, which have spent nearly $162,000 since 2011 on direct contributions and outside electioneering activities to help Republican legislators and GOP Gov. Scott Walker stay in office.

But more important than campaign contributions alone is that these groups are adept at focusing their resources and alerting and organizing their geographically dispersed members to support anti-abortion candidates in legislative and statewide elections, making them as effective on their issue as other bigger-spending special interest groups.

Planned Parenthood has spent nearly $1.7 million in direct contributions and outside electioneering activities since 2011 to support Democrats and oppose Republican candidates for governor and the legislature. Much of Planned Parenthood’s outside electioneering activities were broadcast ads that criticized GOP candidates for spending cuts and policies that restrict women’s health care options.