Mount Pleasant/Sturtevant Patch will eventually be publishing some of the following story. I will link to the article once it is published. It has to be majorly edited for space and to make it more local. However, below is the result of A LOT of research and several days of writing. I think it contains information that all Americans and voters – especially women – should know. Please share…
Wisconsin legislators are not the only lawmakers crunching the numbers these days. With all the hoopla in Madison, our Federal Budget may be a little over looked by the some of the citizens here in the Badger State. There is one proposal in Washington,as well as in Wisconsin, which is being volleyed back and forth. Woman’s reproductive health has long been a center of discussion in the political realm and still is. In fact, according to Fox News on February 26, 2011:
“A Georgia state representative [Rep. Bobby Franklin, a Republican] has reintroduced an anti-abortion bill that would make miscarriages a felony if the mother cannot prove there was no “human involvement.” The legislation from Rep. Bobby Franklin, a Republican, would make all abortions, described as “prenatal murder”… Anyone convicted would face the death penalty or life behind bars.”
The internal female plumbing has been and still is a major topic of discussion for the past 30+ years. Throughout those 30-some years there has been a commitment to woman’s health with the assistance of Planned Parenthood regardless of which party held office. It is still no surprise that mere weeks ago The U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment to the proposed federal budget which would completely eliminate all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. It is also not surprising that Governor Walker’s budget would do the same on a state level.
In the last election, right winged republicans and tea party candidates were elected into office all over the country. Tea party candidates said repeatedly that their only concerns were fiscal responsibility and budget balancing. They wanted less government, less regulation. Throughout their campaign they claimed not to take sides on social issues as a party. But now that they are in office, it is clear that there is a social (perhaps, religious) agenda. And while they want less government in our lives, they still want them in our bodies. They want less regulation, but they want to regulate our reproductive rights.
On Scott Walker’s website you can find these statements:
“I am 100% pro-life and believe in protecting life from conception to natural death. As governor, I will protect the sanctity of all human life.
I am proud to be endorsed by Wisconsin Right to Life, which noted that my election “would greatly contribute to building a culture of life where the most vulnerable members of the human family are welcomed and protected.”
I have also been endorsed by Pro-Life Wisconsin which said that a Walker Administration “will have far-reaching, positive effects for Wisconsin citizens who value the dignity of all innocent human life.”
So there is no surprise where he would stand on the issue. However, it goes beyond that. Not only does Walker want to ban abortions for victims of rape and incest, he has also placed into the budget a repeal of Contraception Equality (an anti discrimination law) enacted by Governor Doyle which mandates insurance companies to cover birth control as they would any other medication. This means that uninsured women in Wisconsin will not only lose the benefit of Planned Parenthood services, but insured women would have to pay extraordinary prices in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
In 2001, Walker also introduced a bill before becoming governor which would have made it legal for pharmacists to refuse the filling of birth control. That bill was vetoed.
In Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood services more than 73,000 patients a year. And In Racine, 3,200.
Approximately 1/3 of Planned Parenthood’s budget is from federal funding. Even though not one federal or state dollar is applied towards abortion services or locations, those who support this measure feel this is a valid strike against abortion rights.
From The Boston Herald on March 20, 2011, one man explains his view,
“Right now, unborn children have no voice in this country,” said Eric Anthony, 62, of Brighton, who held a sign calling abortion a “daily 9/11.” “It’s unfair that my tax dollars go to fund abortion.”
Many right to life organizations would have you believe that abortion is on the rise. However, stated directly on the website, Census.gov, abortions have significantly decreased since 1990.
According to NPR’s Talk of the Nation on March 7, 2011, only 3% of Planned Parenthood services are abortion related. And none of that 3% is financed with federal or state funding or tax dollars.
Recently, right to life organizations have been preparing for a new battle. Their directive is the criminalization of all birth control methods. They feel that simply using any form of birth control is no different than having an abortion. These are the very groups which Walker supports and receives endorsements. Can we see where this is going.
Even though it is proven that Planned Parenthood helps save money in the long run, even though these items are being cut from the budget…this is indeed not a financial matter for the lawmakers.
Florida Representative cliff Stearns has introduced a bill which would provide federal funding for anti-abortion medical facilities. This would give up to 5 million to clinics for ultrasound equipment to be used to persuade women from electing to terminate their pregnancies. That 5 million? That would be for 2012 – alone. So tell me, how is this about saving money?
In a recent Wall Street Journal column, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services estimated that Medicaid Family Planning programs (IE. Planned Parenthood) saved tax payers over $140 million dollars in 2008. It was also estimated that these programs prevented over 11, 000 unplanned pregnancies. Of those 11,000 – some were bound to have been terminated. Is that not what they are trying to avoid?
“This simply does not make fiscal sense,” explains Amanda Harrington from Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. “Without Planned Parenthood, teen pregnancies are said to go up by a third.”
As you can see, woman’s health means little to Scott Walker and his fellow legislative conservatives. And I wish we were only talking about an STD here and there – which can be deadly in their own right – but this is a matter of life and death for many, many women.
While in her 20s, former Sturtevant resident, Rebecca Cassens utilized the services of Planned Parenthood. She did not have insurance and Planned Parenthood was her only means of any and all medical care. From 1996-2009 she depended on this organization in a very serious way – to save her life.
In 1998, Rebecca received news that her latest pap smear was abnormal. She ended up having a procedure, called a cone biopsy, to avoid the spreading of cervical cancer cells. She was diagnosed with severe dysplagia which, had gone undiagnosed, would have caused cervical cancer. Since her diagnosis and treatment, her subsequent paps have been clear and she is now living a healthy life.
“I absolutely believe that I received life-saving care from Planned Parenthood,” Rebecca insists, “Without access to their low cost care, I would not have had the early diagnosis which saved my life.”
Harrington from Planned Parenthood says that these stories are unbelievably common. “I have had so many women tell me stories of how Planned Parenthood saved their lives with a pap smear they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to obtain.”
A pap smear is a recommended yearly test which is the only procedure used in detecting Cervical Cancer. From the information found on Cancer.org, over 55 million paps are performed in the U.S. each year. Of those, 3.5 million (or 6%) are abnormal and will require medical intervention. In 2009, Planned Parenthood preformed nearly 51,000 follow up procedures due to abnormal pap results preventing the growth of cancer cells, which in some cases can spread very rapidly.
Also from Cancer.org, 1 in 147 women will be diagnosed with Cervical Cancer at some time in their life. In 2010, an estimated 12,200 women were diagnosed with this deadly disease and it cost over 4000 women their lives. The death rate in 2010 for Cervical Cancer is 2.4 in every 100,000 women. And in African American women, 4.4 in 100,000 – almost double. If detected early with a pap smear, stage one cervical cancer has a 5 year survival rate of over 91%. Wow. What a difference a swab can make.
It is clear that pap smears save lives. It is also clear that many women depend upon Planned Parenthood for these services. If these services do not continue to exist, many women could possibly lose their lives.
Harrington states that 33,000 women would lose their basic medical care if Planned Parenthood would cease to exist.
As a previous Wisconsin Planned Parenthood patient, Justine Curry of San Diego, states, “If it weren’t for Planned Parenthood I would NOT have had such steady gynecological care at a price I could afford throughout college and post college before I got my own insurance.” She continues, “Also, because Planned Parenthood was available to me at an early age to start the “habit” of yearly gynecological exams, I continue to make it a priority in my healthcare.”
Planed Parenthood serves many uninsured and under-insured patients as a means for much, if not all, of their routine medical screening. Planned Parenthood is not just a vending stop for condoms and pregnancy tests.
Planned Parenthood monitors and test for diabetes, high blood pressure, anemia and many different cancer screenings including mammograms. They provide young moms to be with prenatal care. And in 2009 (from the most recent Planned Parenthood Fact Sheet), there were 904,820 pap smears preformed.
“I am no longer a Planned Parenthood patient but I hope that they continue to exist for my sister and daughter and the thousands of women whom have no other access to medical care,” Rebecca states.
A recent New York City billboard claimed that ‘the most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.’ Needless to say this billboard, which is near a Planned Parenthood location, has created a hotbed of controversy. Considering the facts above, I have to wonder if it is simply dangerous to have a uterus at all. Simply HAVING a womb targets women for questioning, inadequate healthcare, discrimination and even early death.
Whether or not one agrees with abortion rights is not the issue when it comes to the funding of Planned Parenthood. What is the issue is the necessity of it’s services to women who so desperately need them to survive and maintain a healthy life.