A Planned Parenthood clinic closed in Wisconsin on Thursday due to state budget cuts that prevent government money from going to the women’s health clinics.
The Fond du Lac County clinic is the fifth Planned Parenthood in the state to close over the past year. Because of a state law that prohibits state and federal dollars from being used to pay for abortions, none of the five clinics offered abortion, or even referrals to abortion clinics.
The clinic did, however, provide essential primary care services, including breast and cervical cancer screenings, health exams, contraceptives, and testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2011 signed a budget bill that cut more than $1 million a year in funding to Planned Parenthood clinics in Wisconsin. The 2011-2013 budget bill added restrictions to the already strict laws dictating what kind of family planning services can be offered by clinics that receive state and federal funding.
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The budget also prohibited publicly funded clinics from offering abortions, making referrals for abortion services elsewhere, or having an affiliate organization that provides abortion services or makes such referrals.
At the beginning of 2013, there were 27 Planned Parenthood clinics in Wisconsin—three of which provided abortion services. Though none of the five clinics that have closed offered abortions, because of their affiliation with the three that did, the funding was slashed for every Planned Parenthood in the state.
In 2011, 67 percent of Wisconsin women lived in counties that had no abortion clinic, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
The Fond du Lac clinic had for 36 years provided family planning services at low cost to low-income women and men, who often did not have a primary care physician and could not otherwise afford the cost of care.
Though data on the percentage of Wisconsinites that support public funding for Planned Parenthood was not immediately available, a 2011 CNN poll found that 65 percent of Americans support the continued funding of Planned Parenthoods. And according to a 2013 Marquette Law School poll, 60 percent of Wisconsinites think that abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances.
Walker, a leading anti-choice Republican who has said he opposes abortion without exceptions, has regulated abortion providers by requiring them to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. He was also supportive of an ultrasound mandate.
Walker, who said in a December 2013 interview that he doesn’t “obsess” about abortion as a political issue, recently announced that his administration would not enforce a state law mandating contraceptive coverage in some company insurance plans.
Wisconsin’s 2011 budget bill also cut men out of the state’s publicly funded family planning waiver program.