- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 18, 2016

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation Thursday to defund Planned Parenthood while directing state and federal dollars to other health care providers.

“Today, we signed two bills into law that prioritize women’s health while improving government and its services to the citizens of Wisconsin,” the Republican governor said in a statement after a ceremony at Life’s Connection in Waukesha, a clinic that offers counseling in alternatives to abortion.

The first bill prevents the state from passing along federal family-planning grant money under Title X to any organization that provides abortions, which could mean a loss of as much as $3.5 million annually to Planned Parenthood’s state affiliates.

The second bill places a cap on how much Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, which recently marked its 80th anniversary, can receive as reimbursement for prescription drugs, a limit expected to result in an annual cost to the affiliate of about $4.5 million.

Mr. Walker said the bills require the Wisconsin Department of Health Services “to apply for additional federal funding for women’s health services to be obtained from less controversial providers and ensure prescription reimbursement processes are handled in a cost-based and transparent manner.”

Under the legislation, federal grand dollars awarded under Title X would be distributed to state, county and local health departments and health clinics, and the Wisconsin Well Woman Program.

“Any remaining funds will go to nonpublic hospitals or federally qualified health centers that provide comprehensive primary and preventive care,” said the governor’s statement. “This makes it clear that DHS will not send those funds to Planned Parenthood, which is currently the only Wisconsin entity to receive Title X funding.”

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin decried last week’s vote in the state legislature to send the bills to the governor’s desk, saying it would cut off access to birth control and other essential services.

“Today’s vote to end funding for Planned Parenthood’s essential, preventive health care is deeply troubling and part of an intentional, calculated agenda to end women’s access to birth control and all reproductive care in Wisconsin,” the group said in a Feb. 11 statement.

Casey Mattox, an Alliance Defending Freedom attorney who testified in favor of the bills, said in a statement Thursday that “Planned Parenthood shouldn’t be profiting off of women and taxpayers.”

“Wisconsin taxpayers shouldn’t be forced into this immoral partnership with Planned Parenthood, especially when better, low-cost community health care providers serve women and families far more comprehensively and outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities in Wisconsin 17 to 1,” Mr. Mattox said.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin did not immediately announce whether it would file a lawsuit to stop the bills from taking effect, but affiliates in other states have sued after moves to cut off state and federal funding.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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