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Attack on Planned Parenthood Called Likely to Backfire

A woman's health-care decisions are best made between doctor and patient without political interference, says Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. Credit: Steve Debenport/
A woman's health-care decisions are best made between doctor and patient without political interference, says Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. Credit: Steve Debenport/
August 7, 2015

MADISON, Wis. - The Republican-led attempt to defund Planned Parenthood would, if successful, have exactly the opposite effect than the organizers of the attack claim to desire, according to Nicole Safar, government relations director for Planned Parenthood-Wisconsin.

Recently, Gov. Scott Walker led an effort that forced Planned Parenthood to close several Wisconsin clinics, and the latest attack to cut federal funds would do nothing to solve the issues faced by women in Wisconsin, Safar said.

"We're not even coming close to serving the need that there is with the funding that we do have," she said. "Cutting the federal funding would be going in the absolute wrong direction. We would see more unintended pregnancies, more cases of sexually transmitted diseases and more abortions."

Planned Parenthood handles 60,000 patients in Wisconsin every year. Safar said one in five Wisconsin women has been a Planned Parenthood patient. Nationwide, she said, Planned Parenthood helps prevent 345,000 abortions every year. Only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood's activities involve abortion, she said; the vast majority of its work is providing health care for women.

Planned Parenthood has weathered attacks before the most recent one, which claims the organization sells fetal tissue, something Safar said is not done at all in Wisconsin. Regardless of this latest defunding effort, she said, they're here to stay.

"Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has been here for 80 years and we're not going anywhere," she said. "We are committed to providing high-quality and non-judgmental health care in Wisconsin. We value our patients and we value our roles in the communities that we serve all across the state."

While supporters of Planned Parenthood say the issue of abortion in the United States has been settled law since Roe vs. Wade in 1973, critics say they will not end their opposition to the practice.

Republican politics in Wisconsin have changed drastically regarding women's health. One of the most prominent defunding advocates, Sen. Roberta Darling, R-River Hills, who co-chairs the powerful Joint Finance Committee, actually is a former board member of Planned Parenthood-Wisconsin.

Safar said the attacks are ill-advised.

"I think it is just a terrible way to operate, and it's not a good way to make policy," she said. "It's not good medicine, certainly, and these political attacks - I think most people can see them for what they are, but unfortunately they just keep coming."

Safar said Wisconsin women never would presume to get involved in someone else's health-care decisions.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI