GOP lawmakers ask Gov. Evers for $10M to aid pregnancy centers

NOW: GOP lawmakers ask Gov. Evers for $10M to aid pregnancy centers

MADISON Wis. (CBS 58) -- A group of Assembly Republicans are requesting the state use $10 million in federal funding to provide more resources to expecting mothers at pregnancy centers, according to a letter sent to Gov. Tony Evers who has sole authority on how to spend American Rescue Plan funds.

The letter signed by 38 Assembly Republicans was delivered to Gov. Tony Evers via email, asking him to aid crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) which provide free services and counseling for women struggling with unplanned pregnancies.

But the American Medical Association warns crisis pregnancy centers are unethical. A study published in the AMA Journal of Ethics says CPCs spread misinformation, and that "women do not receive comprehensive, accurate, evidence-based clinical information about all available options."

Most CPCs are religiously affiliated and are exempt from regulatory and credentialing oversight, and staff are not licensed medical professionals.

The letter reads, "Providing $10 million in ARPA dollars to better fund Wisconsin’s pregnancy resource centers will support mothers throughout the pregnancy and help save the lives of countless children.”

Gracie Skogman, Legislative Director for Wisconsin Right to Life, said CPCs "Are already seeing a massive increase in women who are coming in for their services."

She says since Friday's Roe v. Wade decision, some centers have fielded twice as many calls and hosted twice as many clients.

Skogman says the $10 million would significantly help the nearly 100 CPCs in Wisconsin, many of which have small budgets. She said, "Many of the pregnancy centers in Wisconsin have hopes to expand their services to potentially childcare, maybe add a maternity home, add another ultrasound machine."

Part of the letter reads: "being pro-life is more than just being against abortion; it also means providing the necessary resources, guidance, and support for expectant mothers."

But the AMA says those resources often "violate principles of medical ethics" and involve "deceptive practices".

The request comes days after the U.S Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, leaving it up to individual states to enforce their own laws on abortion. Right now, it remains unclear whether Wisconsin's 1849 near-total abortion ban is enforceable since the High courts decision Friday.

"This is a complex issue that may divide us in our personal beliefs; however, we have an opportunity to come together and find common ground to prevent unwanted pregnancies from occurring and support those unplanned pregnancies that do occur," the letter said. "While we do not agree on easy access to abortion, we should be able to agree on finding ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies."

It’s unlikely Evers would agree to Republicans' request during an election year as he seeks reelection this fall. A spokeswoman for Evers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Evers has spent tens of millions from the coronavirus relief plan signed last year by President Joe Biden funneling more than $2 billion to the state. A portion of the funds have been used on Covid-19 tests, vaccines, small business grants, violence prevention, and health care among other things.

Republican lawmakers passed legislation to give them legislative oversight on how to spend federal relief funds, a measure the governor vetoed. Evers has sole authority over those funds, which GOP leaders have argued would have increased transparency.

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