FORBES: Scott Walker Kills Women's Cancer Screening Program For Political Gain

December 17, 2011
Rick Ungar

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has set his sights on ending the availability of cervical and breast cancer screening —along with multiple sclerosis detection— for Wisconsin women who have insufficient health insurance to pay for these critical procedures.

It’s not about money or budgets or unions or any of the usual ideologically driven nonsense we’ve come to expect from Scott Walker. This time, it’s just all about politics.

The screening service, which goes by the name of the Wisconsin Well Woman Program and is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, contracts with various screening providers throughout the state on a county-by-county basis. Among those who provide these critical services to women between the ages of 45 and 64 is Planned Parenthood.

The good news is that Walker is not looking to completely destroy the program. If you are a woman fortunate enough to live in a county where the screening is available by any entity that is not Planned Parenthood, these tests will continue to be available to you.

However, if you are a Wisconsin woman with insufficient funds or insurance to pay for cancer and multiple sclerosis screening and live in Winnebago, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, or Outagamie County, I’m afraid you now have a problem. Planned Parenthood is the only organization providing the screening program in these areas and each of the local offices has been notified that their contract with the state to provide such screening will terminate at the end of this year.

Says Well Woman program coordinator, Kristen Biese, ”I’m very worried about the women that we serve, and the actions taken to remove Planned Parenthood from the Well Woman program are really cold-hearted and a huge disservice to the women in our communities”.

Wisconsin resident, Carol Lechner, could not agree more. It was just a month ago that Lechner, who has no health insurance and was dependent on the program for cancer screening, discovered—thanks to the free screening she received at her local Planned Parenthood office— that she had breast cancer. According to Ms. Lechner, had it not been for Planned Parenthood, she would never have received the lifesaving treatment she requires.

As for Governor Walker, he is already busy trying to minimize the gravity of his decision.

There’s other providers throughout the state who have that. Planned Parenthood is not the sole provider of that. There are many clinics that are not as controversial as Planned Parenthood, and our goal was to make sure low-income women had access to those sorts of screenings from other providers around the state that don’t carry the controversy you get with Planned Parenthood.

Well, that makes sense, right? After all, when a woman discovers a lump, her first concern is clearly going to be about the level of controversy that attaches to the one facility in her county that she can depend upon to provide her with a diagnosis in time to save her life. No doubt, the women who will be denied access in the four counties where no such screening will be available, can comfort themselves in the knowledge that, while they may die of breast or cervical cancer, at least they won’t have to expose themselves to some perceived controversy over the local Planned Parenthood treatment facility. As for the children who will lose a mother, they’ll just have to understand that it was far more important that Scott Walker burnish his anti-Planned Parenthood credentials than allow these kids to grow up with their mom.

This is not the first strike at Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin that has left many women without critical life-saving services. The state’s legislature, at the behest of the Governor, has already cut off all funding to the organization for the many things Planned Parenthood does that do not, in any way, involve abortion services.

Yet, it would appear that  Scott Walker has not finished with the organization and will continue to take the lives of those already walking the planet under the pretense of saving unborn lives—and all because it makes for good politics with his base.

Let’s face it – while there are any number of good reasons why Wisconsin voters might vote to toss Scott Walker out of office  in the coming recall election, it occurs to me that the best reason might be that the man simply is not bright enough to handle the responsibility of governing a corner lemonade stand let alone the State of Wisconsin.