The recently enacted Wisconsin state budget (AB 40) contains a provision which puts the University of Wisconsin Health Care Authority (UWHCA) under the provisions of our state law which prohibits the use of state tax dollars for the performance of abortions. UWHCA tried to persuade legislators that it would lose accreditation if the provision was enacted. This argument is phony — federal and state law protect UWHCA from discrimination if it does not participate in abortion activities. With the help of Atty. Matt Bowman of the Alliance Defense Fund, Wisconsin Right to Life successfully exposed this false attempt to “scare” legislators and the UW provision was included in AB 40.
Now UWHCA has changed tactics and come up with new phony arguments to try to convince Governor Walker to use a line item veto to strike out the UW provision. New UWHCA claims and their rebuttal by Atty. Bowman are as follows:
Phony Claim #1: UWHCA is a public authority “that does not receive state funds and that calling its funds state funds is ‘incorrect’ and potentially harmful to the hospital.”
Rebuttal: All AB 40 does is to include the UWHCA as an “agency of the state” and make it, as an agency, subject to the provisions of law which prohibit the use of state taxpayer dollars for the performance of abortions. In no instance does AB 40 state that UWHCA uses “funds of the state.”
Phony Claim #2: UWHCA claims it is not actually paying for the performance of abortions so the provision is unnecessary.
Rebuttal: Atty. Bowman received a letter from UWHCA dated March 5, 2010 in response to an open records request. In the letter, UWHCA admits that it pays residents who are trained to perform abortions at Planned Parenthood. Stipends and benefits which UWHCA spent on training at Planned Parenthood was $21,149 in 2007, $19,301 in 2008 and $18,428 in 2009.
Phony Claim #3: UWHCA fears that its OB/GYN program will be harmed by the budget provision and the number of OB/GYNs in the state will be reduced, threatening access to health care for women.
Rebuttal: This claim is almost laughable. As Bowman so aptly points out, by insisting on strong abortion components to its programs (like the ill-fated late-term abortion plan at the Madison Surgery Center), it is UWHCA that is discouraging pro-life individuals from entering the OB/GYN program. It is highly possible that the provision included in AB 40 will attract students and residents who currently shy away from becoming OB/GYNs because of the pressure to perform or be involved in abortion.
Will Governor Walker bite? With the skewering UWHCA has undergone due to its phony claims — not a chance.