Gov. Scott Walker's Big Opportunity to Defund Planned Parenthood

From day one of his administration, Gov. Scott Walker (R) has demonstrated a commitment to stewarding taxpayer dollars in a way that prevents them from providing support to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. As a presidential candidate touring the nation, Walker has used his campaign to call for the federal defunding of Planned Parenthood amidst a national debate over the organization’s morally perverse ethics, revealed in shocking videos.

In his very first budget, Walker eliminated Title V funding for Planned Parenthood. Title V is a federal block grant that requires matching state contributions for a joint state-federal funding of maternal and child health programs. For years, Planned Parenthood’s Wisconsin affiliate received millions of taxpayer dollars through the Title V program.

Walker’s decision to deny Planned Parenthood Title V funds earned him the condemnation of Cecile Richards, the national leader of Planned Parenthood. “It is outrageous that Governor Walker would take away health care away from thousands of women and families in Wisconsin,” Richards declared after the cuts went into effect.

Walker could again earn the ire of Richards, who has lately been in the public spotlight claiming it is perfectly acceptable for Planned Parenthood to traffic in the sale of fetal human body parts leftover from abortions, if he moved to stop Title X funds from going to Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin. According to state and federal documents, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin will receive $3.5 million of taxpayer money in fiscal year 2015 thanks to Title X funds.

Congressional efforts to prohibit taxpayer money from going to Planned Parenthood via Title X family planning grants are likely to stall thanks to procedural hurdles in the U.S. Senate and opposition from the White House. That means it will be up to the states, and governors like Walker, to take meaningful action in the absence of reform from Washington.

On Monday, a spokesperson for Walker’s gubernatorial office told Newsweek that the governor, “supports additional changes to Wisconsin law to restrict federal funds that flow to Planned Parenthood as well.”

Already, draft legislative proposals are being floated in the state Capitol in Madison to redirect federal Title X funds to clinics and women’s health centers that would provide family planning services, but would not be affiliated with abortion providers. The plan is modeled on legislation enacted in Kansas and Texas that establishes a tiered priority system in which abortion providers like Planned Parenthood are placed in last priority, behind full service clinics and other licensed care providers that provide a more comprehensive level of care to patients.

The Kansas and Texas plans have both withstood legal scrutiny in the federal court system, an important consideration for Wisconsin, where every pro-life reform signed into law by Walker has been challenged with a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood or its allies.

Walker has already made it very clear that as president he would eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood, but in Wisconsin he has a chance to finish the job by redirecting and reprioritizing Title X dollars, sending them to health clinics that can offer women better care without recommending or providing abortion services.

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