.- The Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is scheduled to vote today on Gov. Jim Doyle’s proposal to expand a confidential “family planning” program to boys aged 15 to 17. Critics charged that the proposal further encourages teens to go behind their parents’ backs and neglects their moral development.
At present, Wisconsin’s Medicaid Family Planning Waiver Program provides taxpayer-funded birth control without charge to teen girls in the same age range without their parents’ knowledge or consent. Federal and state law prohibits parents from being notified that their minor daughters are receiving free contraceptives under the program, a press release from Pro-Life Wisconsin reports.
“Providing free, taxpayer-funded birth control to 15-year-old boys and girls behind parents’ backs is horrible public policy, and we urge the finance committee to block expansion of this offensive program,” commented Matt Sande, Pro-Life Wisconsin’s director of legislation. “Parents are naturally concerned about the sexual health of their teen children, not only to protect them physically but to guide them morally.”
Sande argued the state should reinforce the parent-child relationship.
“Who do we want to be the confidants of our sons and daughters – parents, or Planned Parenthood? That is the question parents in this state should be asking themselves, including parents on the committee,” he continued.
At present the Medicaid program provides family planning services and supplies for women aged 15 to 44 who are at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. While women applying for the program are considered presumptively eligible for services and exempted from co-payments, family income is disregarded for women under 19 who are unmarried and childless.
“Therefore almost every teen girl in the state is financially eligible,” Pro-Life Wisconsin said.
Gov. Doyle’s proposal expands the program to men aged 15 to 44.
“Not only is the Family Planning Waiver Program offensive to parents, but it contributes to an increase in underage pregnancies, abortions, and sexually transmitted diseases by encouraging sexual promiscuity,” Sande remarked. “Every day, 8,000 teens become infected with an STD. It’s time the state reexamines the so-called benefits of ‘family planning’ for Wisconsin’s children.”
Eight states prevent minor girls from enrolling in family planning waiver programs by limiting the programs to women who are at least 19 years of age. Three states limit their programs to women who are at least 18 years of age.