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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher May 30, 2012

Dem Lt. Gov. candidate says Walker caused 12,000 women to lose access to Planned Parenthood

One of the shots taken at Republican Gov. Scott Walker is that, through various legislative measures, he has waged a "war on women."

Mahlon Mitchell, the Democrat running against GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch in a June 5, 2012 recall election, echoed that criticism in an interview broadcast May 11, 2012.

"We have Planned Parenthood under attack," the state firefighters union president told Wisconsin Public Television, "12,000 women that used to go to Planned Parenthood -- not for the woman’s right to choose, mind you, but for basic health care -- that's been taken away."

Mitchell was referring to a provision in the 2011-2013 state budget, which Walker and Kleefisch "have control over," said Mitchell campaign spokesman Kevin Benish.

The program

Walker’s budget proposal would have eliminated the Family Planning Funding program, which was slated for $1.94 million per year in state money, according to the state Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget scorekeeper.

But before the final budget was approved, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee restored the program, with a 10 percent funding cut, and gave it a new name: the Women’s Health Block Grant program.

The new name was more accurate in that the funding provides more than family planning services (contraceptive services and supplies, pregnancy testing and perinatal care services). It also covers cervical cancer screening, sexually transmitted disease treatment and general health screenings.

Mitchell’s evidence

To back Mitchell’s statement, Benish cited a January 2012 memo from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau that said the state budget made Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin -- because of its involvement in abortion-related services -- ineligible for the block grants.

Benish also cited a June 2011 Planned Parenthood memo, which said the agency used its 2010 allocation to serve 12,000 women in nine counties.

Kleefisch campaign spokeswoman Rachel Pecor agreed Planned Parenthood was made ineligible for the block grants, but said women in the nine counties who had used Planned Parenthood could still get services from other agencies.

The fiscal bureau told us, however, that the state budget reallocated to other counties the $800,000 that Planned Parenthood was slated to receive for the first year of the two-year budget for the nine counties it served.

In other words, the money was not simply given to other women’s health agencies in the nine counties that Planned Parenthood had served.

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As for the claim that 12,000 women were served with the money Planned Parenthood received in 2010, it roughly squares with information provided to PolitiFact Wisconsin by the state Department of Health Services. Planned Parenthood said it used its 2010 state funding to leverage additional funding and served a total of 14,350 women in the nine counties.

Our rating

Citing the state budget backed by Walker and Kleefisch, Mitchell said "12,000 women that used to go to Planned Parenthood -- not for the woman’s right to choose, mind you, but for basic health care -- that's been taken away."

The budget did take away money Planned Parenthood said it used to serve 12,000 women in nine counties. Women can still use the clinics, but clearly Planned Parenthood is less able to provide services.

As for the money not being for "the woman’s right to choose," it did not fund abortions, but did fund family planning services as well as basic health care.

We rate Mitchell’s statement Mostly True.

Our Sources

Wisconsin Public Television, Mahlon Mitchell interview, May 11, 2012

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Health care is a basic human right," April 21, 2012

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "State budget to rein in aid for family planning," June 4, 2011

Email interview, Mahlon Mitchell campaign spokesman Kevin Benish, May 24, 2012

Email interview, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch campaign spokeswoman Rachel Pecor, May 24, 2012

Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Planned Parenthood memo to Sen. Jessica King, Jan. 30, 2012

Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 2011-2013 state budget memo on family planning funding, May 18, 2011

Interview, Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau analyst Sam Austin, May 29, 2012

Interview, Wisconsin Department of Health Services spokesman Beth Kaplan, May 29, 2012

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Dem Lt. Gov. candidate says Walker caused 12,000 women to lose access to Planned Parenthood

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