Legislature Prioritizes Politics over People
MADISON - Statement from Sara Finger, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH):
“When Governor Evers released his budget early this year I felt so hopeful that our state would invest in the needs of real people. From doula reimbursement to infant mortality prevention to affordable child care, Evers’ budget included investments to tackle tough issues that had been long neglected. Governor Evers’ budget plan included a full expansion of Medicaid to cover 82,000 more Wisconsinites while saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars to invest in program like the Healthy Women Healthy Babies initiative.
“Yet, our Republican-led legislature just threw Evers’ budget and vision for healthier Wisconsin women out the window. Rather, they enthusiastically voted to replace it with a watered down version that spends more state money, helps fewer people, and leaves more than $1 billion in federal funds on the table. From a fiscal stance, this make zero sense; from a moral position this is a repugnant.
“Governor Evers listened to the people of Wisconsin and crafted a budget to reflect our needs and values. Republicans have drawn a line and have refused to invest in our health, our lives, and our economic security.
Shame on Republicans legislators for denying women and families a budget we need and deserve and for playing politics with our health and our lives.”
Statement from Sara Finger, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH):
“We are so proud to have Governor Evers standing strong with us, fighting for women’s access to abortion care at a time when we see governors across our nation slamming that door shut. Abortion care is about respecting women to make their own healthcare choices, not erecting onerous hurdles for them to make decisions about their own bodies. We are grateful that Governor Evers recognizes this fundamental right and trusts women.
Wisconsinites across our state are fed up with and appalled at how women’s health is being used as a political game piece. It is a grave and blatant display of misogyny that a body of mainly white male legislators believe they are entitled to dictate a women’s personal healthcare decisions to score political points.
Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health strongly supports the right of all women to make their own health decisions. We will continue to work to ensure access to healthcare, including abortion, and access to medically accurate information for all who need it. We will continue to track votes and ensure legislators are held accountable by their constituents.”
During this extremely busy week in Wisconsin, it was easy to blink and miss something big that happened in the healthcare and abortion access policy world. Here’s a recap of this week’s moving pieces.
On Tuesday morning (6/4) WAWH proudly stood with legislative champions and advocates to support Rep. Lisa Subeck (D-78), Sen. Fred Risser (D-26) and Sen. Latonya Johnson’s (D-6) introduction of the Abortion Access Protection Act. This proposed legislation repeals Wisconsin’s 1849 laws that make performing an abortion a felony criminal offense. Unless we repeal this archaic language, the only thing in between Wisconsin and an abortion ban is Roe v. Wade. With the appointment of Justice Kavanaugh, Roe v. Wade is under serious attack.
We need to repeal Wisconsin’s abortion ban and ensure women are able to control their bodies and their healthcare decisions.
Late Tuesday, Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) removed Medicaid expansion from the state budget. They voted against against accepting $1.6 billion in federal funding for additional healthcare investments which is needed to fund crucial programs. Under Governor Evers’ plan, Wisconsin taxpayers would save $324.5 million over the biennium and expand Medicaid eligibility to an additional 82,000 people.
JFC Republican’s actions also made deep cuts to funding for Wisconsin’s communities of color. The funding for doula reimbursement, included in Evers’ Healthy Women Healthy Babies initiative, was removed as well as funding that would have expanded postpartum eligibility services from 60 days post birth to one year. This removal of funding is indefensible; Wisconsin has some of the worst health disparities in the nation and the highest black infant mortality rates in the nation.
The very next day the Senate took up and passed along party lines a batch of bad anti-abortion bills, several not even based on reliable scientific evidence, that restrict access to abortions and impede a woman’s ability to consult with her physician and make the best decision for her and her family. What is particularly repugnant about the passage of these bills is that they were purely politically motivated. The timing on Wednesday was strategic, and meant to distract from and absorb the pushback from JFC Republicans removing Medicaid expansion and funding for crucial programming included in Governor Evers’ budget.
Even those of us that work on health policy work professionally are struggling to keep up with all the moving pieces, and this is absolutely intentional.
Please take a moment to contact your legislators to let them know that you support Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin, access for abortion and funding for the Healthy Women and Healthy Babies initiative. If your legislator is supportive take another moment to thank them and let them know you are there to support them.
We are so proud of the legislators that are in the Capitol working tirelessly to make Wisconsin a better place for women and families. We are all in this together so let’s keep our focus and remember to breathe!
The state legislature, however, never removed the 1849 law from its criminal code. With Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s recent appointment to the Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade is under serious threat of being overturned and without its protection, doctors could face felony charges under this law for performing abortions in Wisconsin.
We applaud Rep. Subeck and Sen. Risser for introducing a bill that would repeal the Wisconsin abortion ban. We urge our legislators to support this bill and immediately take action to repeal this ban and ensure all women are able to control their bodies and their healthcare decisions. The threat to Roe v. Wade is very real and thus the threat to Wisconsin women’s access to abortion is on the line. The time to take action and make sure abortion care is available in our communities, is right now.
Cecely Castillo, Policy Director