For 77 years, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has provided reproductive health care to women in Wisconsin. In 2011, Planned Parenthood provided 80,000 patients with lifesaving cervical and breast cancer screening, sexually transmitted disease treatment and testing and information and access to all forms of birth control. Less than 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortion related, with this care being provided at three privately funded health centers in Milwaukee, Madison and Appleton. PPWI’s abortion services focuses on providing early abortion care for women and contraceptive counseling to avoid future unintended pregnancies.
Abortion in Wisconsin is extremely limited and heavily restricted. Ninety-three percent of Wisconsin counties have no abortion provider and 63 percent of Wisconsin women live in those counties. 1
Compounding the access problem many women in Wisconsin face are more than a dozen state laws restricting access to abortion. These laws apply equally to medication and surgical abortion. Wisconsin laws include some of the strictest regulations in the nation:
• Wis. Stat. § 253.10 requires a 24 hour waiting period prior to an abortion;
• Wis. Stat. § 253.10 requires state directed counseling for every woman;
• Wis. Stat. § 940.15 prohibits abortion after viability unless a woman will die or her health will be severely complicated;
• Wis. Stat. § 48.375 requires mandatory parental consent;
• Wis. Stat. § 20.9275 prohibits any public funding for abortion services or related activity.
As of April 20, 2012, 2011 Act 217 made substantial changes to Wisconsin’s current informed consent statute. These new restrictions are focused on nonsurgical abortion using medication. Nonsurgical abortion using medication is a safe, noninvasive method of early pregnancy termination which can be used up to 9 weeks in pregnancy. After considerable review, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin made the decision to suspend nonsurgical abortion using medication until further notice as a result of significant concern over new restrictions recently signed into law by Governor Walker.
Although abortion is just a small piece of the overall health care Planned Parenthood provides, it is a critical piece of comprehensive reproductive health care we offer our patients. Until now, nonsurgical abortion using medication has been a key piece of the early abortion care Planned Parenthood provides with about 45% of patients choosing that method.
Consistent, peer-reviewed evidence demonstrates that when abortion services are restricted or inaccessible, maternal health suffers and women die. This link is clearly shown by research indicating that countries with the lowest abortion rates are also countries that have the greatest access to abortion services. For example, the Netherlands has one of the world’s lowest incidences of abortion, 9 per 1000 live births, and has no restrictions on abortion access. The Netherlands’s maternal mortality rates are the lowest in the world. In fact, most of Western Europe, where abortion is generally very accessible, has half the abortion rate of the United States’ abortion rate, which is 21 per 1000 live births.2
2. Sedgh, Gilda; Henshaw, Stanley K.; Singh, Susheela; Bankole, Akinrinola; Drescher, Joanna; Legal Abortion Worldwide: Incidence and Recent Trends, Int’l Family Planning Perspectives; 2007 33(3): 106-116.