Wisconsin Planned Parenthood CEO invited to State of the Union address

Wisconsin Planned Parenthood CEO invited to State of the Union address

Mallory Anderson - WISN 

The President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has been invited to the President's State of the Union address by a Wisconsin lawmaker.

Tanya Atkinson has been tapped as Congresswoman Gwen Moore's invited guest to the address on Thursday, March 7.

"I really was shocked when the team reached out to me and asked me to be the congresswoman's guest at the State of the Union," said Atkinson.

Atkinson is one of several Planned Parenthood staffers who are invited to this year's State of the Union address by members of Congress. She believes that heightened presence is in response to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in 2022.

"I do believe that Planned Parenthood will have more of a presence there because of what is happening across the country in accessing reproductive rights and being able to have reproductive freedom," said Atkinson.

The anti-abortion group Wisconsin Family Action says they're not shocked to hear Atkinson will be attending, especially considering it's an election year.

“It’s no secret that Congresswoman Moore is pro-abortion," said Julaine K. Appling, President Emeritus of Wisconsin Family Action. "That she has invited the leader of Wisconsin’s largest abortion provider to the State of the Union address is hardly surprising, especially given that Wisconsin is a targeted state for the presidential election. How unfortunate that the Democrats believe their path to victory this fall is on the backs of vulnerable women and on preborn babies who will be denied the most basic inherent right— the right to life.”

President Joe Biden has also invited guests affected by abortion access, like Kate Cox, a Texas woman denied an emergency abortion by the state's Supreme Court in December.

"She went through something that nobody should have to go through to make a medical decision," said Atkinson.

Atkinson says she knows not everyone will support her presence at the event.

"What would you say to Wisconsinites who say you don't represent them or their community?" asked 12 News' Mallory Anderson.

"I would respect that, if that is their opinion regarding reproductive health and freedom and that the mission of Planned Parenthood Wisconsin doesn't reflect their values," said Atkinson. "That's their prerogative, and I really genuinely respect that. What we do know from poll after poll after poll is that, 70 to 80 percent of the people Wisconsin do value reproductive freedom. They do value having access to abortion, and they understand how critical the full range of reproductive health care is to health, lives, livelihood."

The State of the Union address will air Thursday, March 7, at 8 p.m. on WISN 12.

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