Wisconsin and other states could block Medicaid funds to abortion providers, under a bill from U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) that won approval in the House of Representative on Tuesday. The bill, which passed on a nearly party-line 236-193 vote, would grant states the authority to prevent Medicaid funding from going to providers such as Planned Parenthood.
The legislation comes in response to controversial videos from an anti-abortion group, which claim to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the harvest and sale of tissue from aborted fetuses. The provider argues the videos were heavily edited to distort the fact, and has denied that it sells any tissue collected from abortions. Still, the videos have prompted a wave of efforts nationwide by Republicans to removed any federal funding it receives.
Duffy called it “asinine” that federal tax dollars would go to any insitution that “harvests baby body parts for sale.” He argued that “Some states want to refuse this tainted money being used by an awful organization that profits from selling aborted children’s organs, but the Medicaid law and CMS is forcing them to fund abortion providers against the state legislature’s wishes.”
Current Medicaid law doesn’t allow the states to block the funding in most cases. Duffy said the bill makes abortion providers not fall under the “free choice of qualified provider” provision, so excluding abortion providers from Medicaid funding would not count as “limiting healthcare options”, which is not allowed under Medicaid.
Critics contend defunding the organization could prevent millions of women from being able to access basic reproductive health care services. Speaking on the House floor Tuesday, Duffy argued that “Health care doesn’t mean Planned Parenthood, and Planned Parenthood doesn’t mean women’s health care. You talk about defunding women’s health care? There is no less money. There is the same amount of money that goes to women’s health care. That’s a false argument.”
In Wisconsin, the state Assembly has voted to stop giving federal Title X funds to Planned Parenthood. Lawmakers are also considering a ban on using any tissue from fetuses aborted after January first for medical research.
WSAU contributed to this report.