It’s no secret that right-wing politicians don’t like Planned Parenthood. They have made that fact incredibly clear over the past year. They have claimed throughout most of their defunding efforts, that they only oppose Planned Parenthoods abortion services. Wisconsin is showing us that really, they don’t care what services Planned Parenthood provides, they just want them closed no matter who it hurts.
For the past 17 years Wisconsin has run the Well Women’s Program, which provides free breast cancer, cervical cancer and multiple sclerosis screenings to uninsured women ages 45-64. The program runs on both federal and state funding used to pay contractors to provide the services. The program provides life saving services to women in the state.
Yet Governor Walker doesn’t seem to care about that. He has decided not to renew a contract with Planned Parenthood to provide the screenings. In some areas the impact will be minimal. Women who may have previously gone to Planned Parenthood for care, who may have a doctor they are comfortable with, will have to find a new provider. Who cares if they have an existing relationship with a provider right?
But in at least 4 counties, there are no other Well Women providers aside from Planned Parenthood. This means women in these areas will be disproportionately impacted. Some may be able to travel to counties farther away to get care, but many will be stuck between a rock and a hard place. With nowhere convenient to go they will be less likely to catch health issues early because they will get care less frequently.
Last year Planned Parenthood did 1260 screenings and found 15 cases of breast and cervical cancer in the 4 counties that are set to lose their sole provider. Had it not been for Planned Parenthood, those cases may have gone undiagnosed. According to a report from Mother Jones “The county health officers in two of those counties have already issued statements decrying the state for targeting Planned Parenthood for the cut and for risking the health of their residents. ‘If it’s not Planned Parenthood, then who’s going to coordinate? Where do women go?” Atkinson asks. “We don’t have any indication at this point.’”
It is unconscionable politicians consistently put their political needs above the health and well-being of the women in their states all in the name of “protecting the unborn children.” What about the living, breathing, feeling, thinking women? What about the mothers and daughters, the sisters and wives, co-workers and friends. Why is their health less important than politics?