Wisconsin Repeals Healthy Youth Act, Bans Women From Buying Private Abortion Coverage


In the wee hours of the morning Wednesday, (today, March 14th 2012), the Wisconsin legislature voted to overturn the Healthy Youth Act and to ban private insurance from covering abortion.  This on the heels of the “Mad as Hell” Women Watch, Women Vote rally at the foot of the capital in Madison yesterday that drew over 400 pro-choice, pro-women advocates. 

The insurance ban will eliminate coverage for abortion services in Wisconsin even when individual citizens are using their own dollars to purchase private insurance.  Seeking to wrest “war on women” away from the actual right-wing war on women, Representative Joel Kleefisch (R-38th) said during debate on the insurance ban last night, “There is a war on unborn women,” and “Aborted women have the highest mortality rate.”

Wisconsin’s Healthy Youth Act requires that students receive an abstinence-based, or abstinence-centered education, according to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, and also include medically accurate information about contraception.

Under the guise of “restoring local control to instruction in human growth and development” Senator Mary Lazich (R-District 28) circulated a co-sponsorship email in which she states the clear objective behind the legislation:

“…The bill puts an end to the practice of outside volunteer health care providers giving instruction in sexual education.  Under current law, members of groups such as Planned Parenthood are able to instruct children on contraception and abortion services… this is an irresponsible practice that should be reversed.”

There is no instruction on abortion services in the Healthy Youth Act.

Nonetheless, repealing it is exactly what the right-wing dominated legislature did.  The repeal of the Healthy Youth Act will not only allow ineffective, faith based abstinence-only-until-marriage back into Wisconsin schools, it also requires schools to apply for federal funds for medically inaccurate, non-evidence based abstinence programming, according to an analysis by the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau.

This will once again open the floodgates in Wisconsin to the multi-billion dollar ideological ab-only industry. Although much has been done to cut federal and state funding to the ineffective programs state block grants and several federal programs still supply millions to ab-only programs each year. 

Senator Lazich didn’t respond to phone calls or visit to her office at the capital in Madison by RH Reality Check. 

On Thursday Wisconsin will take up an “anti-coercion” abortion restriction bill AB 371.  The bill has nothing to do with purportedly protecting women from coercive abortion but everything to do with banning tele-med abortion care in Wisconsin.  This despite the fact tele-med wasn’t even in the offing in Wisconsin. 

Iowa is currently the only state practicing tele-med care and the program has been successful at increasing access to abortion care for women living in rural areas and areas with no reproductive health clinics nearby. 

Tanya Atkinson of Planned Parenthood Wisconsin said of reduced abortion access and the impact of AB 371 “An inconvenient truth about abortion is that when safe, legal abortion is unavailable, women die.”

Both the HYA repeal and insurance coverage ban will go to Governor Walker’s desk for signature.  

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