Health and Reproduction

Women’s Health

The Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation has a Report on Women’s Health in Wisconsin, 2008.

Reproductive Rights

The Reproductive Rights Task Force of the Wisconsin Women’s Network actively promotes initiatives that improve access to reproductive health care and respect women’s capacity to make private, personal decisions about when and whether to have a child. Members exchange information and organize around issues related to reproductive freedom, with a primary focus on legislation.

The Status of Women in Wisconsin, published by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in 2002 gave Wisconsin a grade of F in its composite reproductive rights index, with a rank of 48 out of 51.

93% of Wisconsin counties do not have an abortion provider.

Less than half of all hospitals in Wisconsin routinely provide emergency contraception to victims of sexual assault.

Emergency contraception is up to 89% effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse.

See, page 29.

In January 2003, Wisconsin’s Family Planning Medicaid Waiver went into effect, allowing women at or below 200% of the federal poverty level access to basic reproductive health care services.

Read Abortion Funds Help Needy Women (below), a report on the Women’s Medical Fund of Wisconsin.

Abortion Funds Help Needy Wisconsin Women
by Nora Cusack

The right to choose an abortion is meaningless without access to abortion services. Poor women unable to pay for an abortion are effectively denied economic access to complete health care services. Three non-profit charitable abortion funds provide direct financial aid to help Wisconsin women pay for termination of an unwanted pregnancy. Volunteers run all three organizations, with virtually no overhead costs.

Women who contact the funds have already decided to have an abortion but are unable to pay for it. A telephone application determines financial need. When money is available, funds usually grant or loan up to one-half the cost of an abortion, although in tragic cases more is sometimes granted. Fund checks are made payable to the clinic or physician after an abortion has been performed, ensuring the money is used for its intended purpose.

For almost 30 years, the Women’s Medical Fund, Inc has helped women statewide. In 2000, over 840 women were helped from over 120 different Wisconsin communities. The Freedom Fund, Inc., located in Marshfield and formed in 1995, serves the central and northern areas of Wisconsin. The Options Fund, located in Eau Claire and formed in 1992, serves northwest Wisconsin and the Chippewa Valley. All are members of the National Network of Abortion Funds.

All three funds periodically run out of money and must turn away women who ask for help. Support of the funds can directly change the life of a woman in need. Donations are tax-deductible. The Women’s Medical Fund, Inc., PO Box 248, Madison, WI 53701, 608-256-8900; The Freedom Fund, Inc., PO Box 92, Marshfield, WI 54449, 715-384-3360; The Options Fund, PO Box 473, Eau Claire, WI 54702-0473, 715-838-9991.

Nora Cusack is the treasurer of the board of the Women’s Medical Fund and the chair of the board of the NARAL-WI Foundation.

This article first appeared in the September 2001 issue of the Wisconsin Women’s Network’s newsletter The Stateswoman.