Assembly approves bill to defund Planned Parenthood

The state Assembly approved a bill Thursday that would redirect federal grant money from Planned Parenthood to private services and state and county agencies.

The measure, which passed 60-35, would mean Planned Parenthood could lose up to $3.5 million in Title X grant money. Proponents of the bill say the money would be better distributed to services such as the Wisconsin Well Women Program, which provides health care and cancer screenings to women between the ages of 45 and 64.

“We’re saying the state is applying for this fund, and if we don’t, we would be saying that Planned Parenthood knows better than the state about what to do with Title X [grants],” bill author Rep. André Jacque, R-De Pere, said at a press conference earlier Thursday.

The body also passed an amendment to the bill to allow health care workers to “refuse to accept the duty of offering family planning services to the extent that the duty is contrary to his or her personal beliefs.”

Democrats criticized both the bill and the amendment, saying they serve as a politically motivated attack to hinder women from getting key health care services.

“This is about an agenda,” state Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville, said during debate. “You can’t use ideology to limit the opportunity for women to have exams … there are many women who will lack this access.”

Legislative Republicans have grown more interested in Planned Parenthood following the release of videos taken by abortion opponents they say show organization officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue, a practice that would violate federal law.

The bill will now head to the Senate and, if approved, to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk. Walker has indicated he supports the measure.

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