A supporter of mine occasionally comments on pro-life pages and sometimes those posts pop up on my Facebook feed. One such post was a Wisconsin Right to Life post about Tammy Baldwin obstructing pro-life supreme court nominee Neil Gorsuch. The comment section riddled with insults towards Tammy Baldwin like “POS”, “loser”, and “carpet licking skank” is enough to continue wondering if there is a cut-off point on the pro-life value on human life.
Anyways, the post itself eventually led me to realize there is a Facebook page for the Jackson County chapter of the Wisconsin Right to Life. On the Facebook page, I saw this picture explaining there are 7 healthcare clinics in Wisconsin for every Planned Parenthood, which is also on the WRTL’s official website. Supposedly, there are 162 health care clinics in Wisconsin (not including private healthcare providers) so they argue we don’t need Planned Parenthood. Their website claims there are 13,540 comprehensive healthcare clinics nationwide, outnumbering Planned Parenthood 20 to 1. Live Action News states that if funding to Planned Parenthood were eliminated, the money could go towards these healthcare providers.
Knowing how pro-life groups use misleading and deceptive tactics, I checked their resources.
The data used for the map graphic focuses on federally qualified healthcare providers that accept Medicare and Medicaid. The problem with this is not all women—even some low income women—qualify for these types of federally or state funded insurance programs.
What would have been more helpful to low income women if somehow the map answered the following questions:
*Do these healthcare providers offer services on a sliding scale or free for women who qualify?
*Will these healthcare providers take in low income women regardless of their ability to pay?
*In the 27 states that offer such a program, do these healthcare providers process Family Planning Waivers so women that are low income yet still make too much to receive government assistance would still be able to have reproductive care and birth control?
For argument’s sake, let’s say we do cut funding to Planned Parenthood and re-direct those funds to these comprehensive healthcare providers. How would it be guaranteed that the healthcare providers would put general healthcare funding like Medicaid towards reproductive healthcare services and birth control?
It’s been pointed out that the data shows ALL federally funded healthcare providers and includes providers that absolutely do not to reproductive healthcare. For example, there is a dot on the map in the area where my town would be. The second website yielded the health care provider that dot is matched to: a dentist. Unless they offer pap smears with their root canals, this is unhelpful as an alternative to Planned Parenthood. Places like dentists, hearing specialists, podiatrists, or dermatologists are certainly NOT alternatives to Planned Parenthood or other women’s reproductive healthcare clinics.
Even if we assume that all 13,540 alternatives to Planned Parenthood did indeed have a certified OB-GYN on staff and offered the same services Planned Parenthood does (sans abortion), pro-life advocates are essentially asking that these healthcare providers take on 2.5 million patients in the event of a Planned Parenthood shutdown. If divided equally, each healthcare provider would have to take on an extra 184 patients just for reproductive healthcare and birth control. If we take out the providers that don’t offer those services, the number of available healthcare providers decreases while the number of patients the remaining providers would have to take on would increase. Of course, this in a completely hypothetical and unlikely situation that each healthcare provider would take in an equal portion of new patients. This is still not factoring in women who rely on sliding scales or family planning waivers to be able to obtain reproductive healthcare services.
But my favorite part in all of this was scrolling through the list of Wisconsin rural health care providers that were listed with the map’s first website resource. One healthcare provider stood out for me: Gundersen. Six of its Wisconsin locations were listed (as well as a couple Iowa locations). The reason why this is incredibly absurd is that pro-life groups PROTEST Gundersen.
For those unfamiliar with the local pro-life folklore of mid-western Wisconsin, legend has it that an employee for Gundersen happened to stumble upon a “secret policy” stating Gundersen does elective abortions in secret and went forward with the information to pro-life groups. Despite not being shown a physical copy of the policy, pro-lifers bought it and now regularly picket Gundersen. They also picket Essential Health, an affiliate of Gundersen that provides reproductive healthcare, birth control, and informational resources on pregnancy options. Interestingly enough, the chairman for the Jackson County Right to Life is in charge of the demonstration in front of the Essential Health Clinic in Black River Falls.
If pro-life groups want to convince women they have “better options”, then maybe they should do some research on those “better options” so they don’t look stupid when someone finds those options include places they are morally objected to.
I’m sure whoever made this just pulled the list of federally qualified healthcare centers, slapped them onto a map, and said “Look! 13,000 healthcare centers!” without researching any of the providers. Or perhaps they realized there would be less of an impact if they removed the providers that don’t offer reproductive healthcare services, aren’t helpful to low income women, or that pro-life groups protest for one reason or another.
The only thing that is certain is that these 13,000+ providers accept Medicare and Medicaid. Beyond that, its a bit questionable.