Brian C. Frank / Reuters

Wisconsin blocks federal funds from reaching Planned Parenthood

Gov. Walker signs bills requiring state to disburse federal funds to ‘less controversial public entities’

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed two bills into law on Thursday that block federal funding from Planned Parenthood and could cost the organization millions of dollars.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin could lose about $7.5 million a year because of the measures, an organization spokeswoman said.

Texas, Louisiana other Republican-controlled states tried to halt funding for the organization, which provides reproductive health services, after an anti-abortion group released videos last summer that purported to show Planned Parenthood officials trying to negotiate prices for aborted fetal tissue. Under federal law, donated human fetal tissue may be used for research, but profiting from its sale is prohibited.

A grand jury in Texas cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing and indicted two anti-abortion activists behind the filming of the videos for tampering with a government record and violating a prohibition on the purchase and sale of human organs.

One of the new Wisconsin rules requires the state to apply for federal Title X family-planning grant money and to give those funds to "less controversial public entities" such as state, county and local health departments and clinics, a statement from Walker's office said.

Planned Parenthood was the only entity in Wisconsin receiving that federal money, and the funds will no longer be sent to the organization, the statement said.

State entities providing abortions will now bill Medicaid only for acquisition costs and dispensing fees for prescription drugs.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin could lose roughly $4 million a year as a result of the measures, depending on patient volume and the type of birth control that patients choose, organization spokeswoman Iris Riis said.

The legislation singles out Planned Parenthood and is an attempt to stop the organization from providing essential health care, the group said. "The move was the latest in a long line of attacks by the governor and the Republican-controlled state Legislature on the health of Wisconsin women and families," it said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has 22 health centers in the state, three of which offer abortion services, according to its website.

Earlier this month, Ohio legislators approved a bill blocking state and federal funds for groups that perform or promote abortions, which cut $1.3 million annually used by Planned Parenthood clinics for HIV testing, prenatal care and other programs.

States such as Alabama, Utah and Arkansas have fought losing court battles over their plans to cut funding for local Planned Parenthood operations.


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