A handful of activists delivered wire hangers and women’s health pamphlets to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s downtown Kenosha office Monday afternoon.
The effort was in response to Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood. No one was at Ryan’s office during their visit, so they put their materials in the mailbox.
“Everybody should be concerned,” said Jodi Muerhoff, a board member of Forward Kenosha, a local group that formed after the 2016 presidential election.
“Mr. Ryan, if you genuinely care about women and children and families, you would not repeal the ACA without something to replace it. It has significant problems that need to be addressed, but no one should go without health insurance.”
Muerhoff said her family takes advantage of a provision in the law that allows children to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26.
Kenosha County Supervisor Dayvin Hallmon was in attendance.
Hallmon said Planned Parenthood provides vital services to young people and must continue to be federally funded, even if the Affordable Care Act is repealed or replaced under a Donald Trump presidency. Planned Parenthood does not use federal funds for abortions.
“(Ryan) has to understand that in this community, in terms of reproductive health, men and women, Planned Parenthood is a very large part of (their) support system,” Hallmon said.
“Planned Parenthood is one of the places that as a young person, when you know sometimes things happen, that you can go.”
Without Planned Parenthood in Kenosha County, Hallmon said Ryan should be prepared for a local HIV or gonorrhea outbreak.
Kenosha’s Planned Parenthood clinic had 2,792 patients in 2014, according to information provided by the clinic. Contraceptives and tests and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases were the primary services offered. Abortions are not performed in Kenosha.
Earlier this month, Ryan said his party would strip federal dollars from Planned Parenthood as part of the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, prompting an outcry from the organization and Democrats promising to fight the move.
The defunding measure would take away roughly $400 million in Medicaid money from the group in the year after enactment, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, and would result in roughly 400,000 women losing access to care.
Republicans said they would redirect the funding to community health centers, but supporters of the organization say women denied Medicaid services from Planned Parenthood may not be able to find replacement care.
President-elect Donald Trump sent mixed signals during the campaign about the organization. He said “millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood,” but he also endorsed efforts to defund the group.
Trump once described himself as “very pro-choice,” but now opposes abortion rights.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.