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GOP wants to overturn women’s choice

When I went to work as Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin’s legislative director in 2003, I was unprepared for the attacks the organization experiences on a routine basis. The staff and physicians who walk into women’s health centers every day are targeted, harassed and threatened. Their workplaces are vandalized. They keep going because they know that without PPWI, thousands of women in our state wouldn’t have access to birth control, cervical and breast cancer screening or treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

Abortion is only a tiny piece of the services PPWI provides, but it is a critical service. And there are people in our state who risk their lives every day to provide it. 

When I was elected state representative, I saw that some legislators are in the Capitol solely to make abortion and birth control illegal. They will stop at nothing to achieve that goal. Look at their reaction to the latest smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. They’ve passed a new law that would lower birth control reimbursement rates for providers serving low-income women to a level that could shut down most or all of the health centers. Although Gov. Scott Walker and legislative Republicans have already denied any state funding for the birth control and cancer detection efforts that PPWI provides (no public monies can be used for abortion services), they now are attempting to deny any federal family planning funds as well. 

This is part of a national effort. At the recent annual American Legislative Exchange Council convention, the campaign against Planned Parenthood was a cause célèbre among GOP presidential candidates. ALEC purports not to address social issues, but it and the anti-abortion movement have many of the same funding sources and goal — electing Republicans who will carry out their agendas. 

Under the ALEC banner of free markets and limited government, Walker touted his defunding PPWI. But he failed to mention that his actions shut down five mostly rural health centers that provided cervical and breast cancer screens — not abortions. Nor did he mention new numbers showing that 25 percent fewer women had access to a women’s health center in 2013 than in 2010.

The biggest lesson I have learned about reproductive health has been as a woman who struggled through six pregnancies, more than half unsuccessfully. I learned that the decisions we make about our reproductive health aren’t about death, but about life. About living. Whether we are faced with an unintended pregnancy or a wanted pregnancy that goes wrong, we are trying to live the lives we imagined for our families and us.

Conservatives want to talk about death and fetal tissue and body parts, leaving women out of the discussion on abortion and reproductive health. They ignore the reality of women’s lives and the dreams we have for ourselves and the families we may, or may not, someday have.

What they really want is to stamp out our ability to make decisions about our lives. They are using the latest campaign to shut down Planned Parenthood to do just that.

We must make sure that doesn’t happen. 

Rep. Chris Taylor represents the 76th Assembly District, which is in and around Madison.

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