Watch CBS News

Wis. Senate Passes Planned Parenthood Funding Cut

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Republicans took another step Wednesday in their push to defund Planned Parenthood, with the state Senate passing two bills that would cost the organization millions of dollars every year.

One bill would require abortion providers to bill Medicaid only for the actual acquisition costs and dispensing fees for birth control drugs, a change that would cost Planned Parenthood an estimated $4.5 million per year. The other would take away about $3 million in federal grant money the organization receives every year.

The bills are part of a three-pronged package of legislation Republicans introduced after videos showing a Planned Parenthood medical director in southern California meeting with people posing as potential buyers of intact fetal specimens. National Planned Parenthood officials have said the videos were misleadingly edited as part of a smear campaign.

The third bill would prohibit research using tissue taken from aborted fetuses.

The Senate debated the Medicaid reimbursement bill for two hours. Democrats blasted the proposal as a vindictive attempt to hurt Planned Parenthood using the videos as a pretext. They claimed the measure would restrict access to birth control because Planned Parenthood won't be able to afford supplying it.

"This not what families are asking for," Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, said. "You are out of touch with Main Street issues. This bill will absolutely not prevent abortions. Limiting access to birth control will increase abortion rates."

Republicans fought back, denying that anyone would lose access to birth control. They said they simply don't want taxpayer dollars subsidizing a private abortion provider.

"We can talk all day about this, but that's what it comes down to," Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville.

In the end the Senate passed the bill 18-14, with all the Democrats in the chamber voting against the measure. The vote sends the bill on to the state Assembly.

The second bill attempts to prevent Planned Parenthood from being eligible for federal Title X grant money. Planned Parenthood is currently the only recipient of that grant money, which can't be used for abortions but can be used for other family planning services and wellness screenings.

Under the bill, abortion providers couldn't get any money; the grants instead would go to the state's Well Woman program, which provides breast and cervical cancer screenings, and local health departments.

"We have a great bill here," said Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, chief Senate sponsors of both bills. "We can go and give more money for these important, critical health services. Why would you not get behind this bill?"

Democrats renewed the same complaints they made about the first bill. They contended the grant changes would limit women's access to health care and pointed out that if Republicans think the bill will defund abortions they'd be wrong since the money can't be used for such procedures.

"It's another bill that gives in to special interests," Shilling said. "We all know how it's going to play out, but it's just so darn frustrating."

Debate went on for about an hour before the Senate voted. The chamber passed the proposal 19-14 with all Democrats again voting against the measure.

The Assembly passed the bill in September. The bill now goes to Walker for his signature.

Neither house has scheduled a vote on the fetal tissue bill yet. Some Republicans have expressed reluctance about moving forward with the measure after researchers said it could chill research into potentially life-saving treatments and cures.

(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.