News Law and Policy

Wisconsin City Asks Gov. Walker to Remove Abortion Funding Bans

Nina Liss-Schultz

The City of Madison Common Council on Tuesday passed a resolution asking federal and state governments to increase funding for full-spectrum reproductive health care services, including abortion, for low-income people.

The City of Madison Common Council on Tuesday passed a resolution asking federal and state governments to increase funding for full-spectrum reproductive health-care services, including abortion, for low-income people.

Because of the 1976 Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal funds for abortion care except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest, those who have public health insurance through Medicaid or another state or local program generally cannot use that insurance to cover an abortion.

Though some states, including California, Washington, and Maryland, use state funding to cover abortions, many others follow the federal standard, leaving abortion care largely inaccessible for millions of low-income pregnant people.

Meanwhile, city and municipal governments, like Madison, have taken it upon themselves to demand full spectrum reproductive care for all people, no matter their income, as anti-choice Congressional lawmakers ensure low-income women don’t have access to safe abortion care.

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There are hundreds of thousands of people in Madison of reproductive age who rely on public health insurance and are unable to use that insurance to cover the cost of abortion care, should they need it, according to the resolution.

“[T]he Madison Common Council is taking a stand to say that the amount of money a woman has should not prohibit her from having an abortion,” Alder Lisa Subeck, a Madison council member and sponsor of the resolution, said in a statement. (Subeck was recently elected to the state legislature.) “This is not what Madison stands for. With this resolution we are saying it loud and clear: we will not look the other way.”

Though in a GOP-dominated state like Wisconsin, whose Republican governor recently pledged to sign a 20-week ban on abortion if it comes to his desk, resolutions like the one in Madison are largely symbolic. Still, state officials and advocates maintain the council’s pro-choice stance is important.

“It is true that unfortunately, given the way that politics are playing out in Wisconsin, with an incredibly anti-choice legislature and governor, we won’t be seeing increases in reproductive care access coming from the state level,” said Jenni Dye, research director at One Wisconsin Now and member of the Dane County Board of Supervisors, in which Madison is found. “It’s incredibly important in this period of time to have local officials step up and say they are committed to and will fight for broader access. It keeps the dialogue going.”

Seattle, Travis County, New York City, and Philadelphia, among others, have passed similar resolutions. And both Oregon and Washington this year introduced legislation seeking to expand abortion access for low-income people.

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