Contact: Wisconsin Right to Life, 877-855-5007
MEDIA ADVISORY, July 31 /Christian Newswire/ -- "If the Healthy Wisconsin state health insurance plan is adopted by the budget conference committee, 30 years of protecting Wisconsin taxpayers from paying for most abortions will be wiped out and Wisconsin taxpayers could be put in the terrible position of paying for the abortions of any Wisconsin woman...for any reason...at any time during pregnancy!" said Susan Armacost, Legislative Director for Wisconsin Right to Life.
Armacost said that Wisconsin Right to Life had originally asked the State Senate to add language to Healthy Wisconsin to clarify that Wisconsin's current law (s. 20.927), that prohibits tax dollars to pay for most abortions, would apply to the Healthy Wisconsin plan. That effort was unsuccessful and the organization's attention has now turned to the conference committee on this issue. And instead of asking for the inclusion of clarifying language, Wisconsin Right to Life is now asking the conference committee to oppose the Healthy Wisconsin proposal.
"It became abundantly clear to us that even if the conference committee would add the clarifying language, Governor Doyle would likely use his line-item veto power to remove the clarifying language," said Armacost. "Wisconsin taxpayers would then be left with a universal health care plan that forces taxpayers to foot the bill for unrestricted abortion in our state. We cannot stand by and allow that to happen!"
Armacost continued, "Given the history of Governor Doyle on tax-funded abortion, we have ample reason to be gravely concerned."
In 1995, then-Attorney General James Doyle was asked to issue an opinion on the applicability of sec. 20.927 to health insurance plans provided for state and local government employees by the Group Insurance Board (GIB). On February 14, 1995, Attorney General Doyle issued an opinion in which he said, "It is my opinion that monies used to fund state employee insurance plans are not 'state or local funds' and that, therefore, the GIB is not subject to the limitation of section 20.927 when establishing and contracting for state and local employee health insurance plans." Unbelievably, the Attorney General reasoned that because the monies flowed through the Employee Trust Fund, they were no longer considered to be public dollars governed by sec. 20.927.
Wisconsin Right to Life strenuously objected at that time to the Attorney General's 1995 opinion because he completely disregarded the fact that taxpayers pay for the health care plans of state and local employees. It was absurd to claim that putting those taxpayer dollars in the Employee Trust Fund suddenly made those monies something other than public dollars!
Attorney General Doyle also ignored the clear intent of the Legislature when it passed sec. 20.927 into law in 1977. The legislative findings say "It is therefore declared to be the public policy of this state that nontherapeutic abortions shall not be subsidized. The following statutory provisions shall be broadly construed to effect the objectives set forth in this section."
Attorney General Doyle ignored the intent of the Legislature and instead of broadly construing the provisions of sec. 20.927, he narrowly construed the law to carve out an exception to the law to provide abortion coverage to state and local employees using public dollars.
As objectionable as Attorney General Doyle's 1995 opinion was, it was limited to one segment of Wisconsin residents...public employees. However, if Healthy Wisconsin becomes part of the budget, that plan would cover all Wisconsin residents and Wisconsin taxpayers would foot the bill for all abortions, for any reason, for any woman! This flies in the face of the legislative intent of sec.20.927 which is required to be broadly construed.
For years, polls have shown that taxpayers, whether "pro-life" or "pro-choice," do not want their tax dollars used to pay for abortions. Depending on the poll, opposition to taxpayer abortion ranges from 60% to 70%.
"Adopting the Healthy Wisconsin plan would reverse over 30 years of prohibiting taxpayer dollars for abortion in Wisconsin, and abortions in our state would most certainly dramatically increase," said Armacost.