After waging battle against union worker's rights and defunding Planned Parenthood, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker—who bears an unfortunate resemblance to Huckelberry Hound—has now made the terrible decision to reduce access to free cancer screenings for women who don't have health insurance. The reason? Because Planned Parenthood provides the screenings, and, well, that's it!
The screenings are provided through the Wisconsin Well Woman Program, which started 17 years ago as a way to make sure that women ages 45 to 64 who don't have health coverage can still receive free breast cancer, cervical cancer, and multiple sclerosis screenings. Sounds harmless enough, until you learn that these procedures are coordinated through a number of contractors, and the GOP's favorite friend of the devil, Planned Parenthood, is one of them. However they're about to be cut out of the deal, as Walker's administration decided to end the program's contract with Planned Parenthood as of January 1st.
While it may sound good to some of their far-right constituents, this decision has some very real consequences for Wisconsin women. Planned Parenthood will no longer administer the program in the four counties for which they are the sole coordinator of the health screenings. This means that when their contract ends more than 1,000 women a year in Winnebago, Outagamie, Sheboygan, and Fond du Lac counties will no longer have access to these services. Of the 1,260 women from these counties who were screened through the program in 2010, 15 cases of cervical and breast cancer were found—and they would not have been discovered if not for the Well Woman Program.
Tanya Atkinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, worries "If it's not Planned Parenthood, then who's going to coordinate? Where do women go? We don't have any indication at this point." Walker, of course, says there are providers in other counties where women can get the benefits of the program:
There are many clinics that are not as controversial as Planned Parenthood, and our goal was to make sure low-income women had access to those sorts of screenings from other providers around the state that don't carry the controversy you get with Planned Parenthood.
Of course with no one seeking out women in these counties, the chances of them being aware of the program and seeking out services in other countries are minimal—never mind that they'd also have to transport themselves a great distance, etc.
None of the other contractors of the program were targeted, and it's obvious the motivation is nothing but political. As Atkinson says of Walker and his pals,
They're willing to put their political ideology before women's lives. That's really what's happening here.
Of course, there are other Planned Parenthoods around the state that also handle Well Woman screenings and procedures. Governor Walker's most recent decision won't directly put a stop to these clinics, but in case you think they're going to get away with continuing such dastardly practices unchecked, rest assured. There's another Republican bill in the State Senate that aims to "block Planned Parenthood and any other health centers that also offer abortion services from being reimbursed for screenings through the Well Woman Program." Boy, they just think of everything, don't they?
Image via Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock.