Subscribe for 33¢ / day

As Planned Parenthood's political arm prepares its largest-ever campaign offensive, its sights are set on Wisconsin's gubernatorial race.

Planned Parenthood's political entities expect to spend more than $18 million nationwide, putting women's health care and abortion rights front-and-center for the 2014 midterm elections, Politico reported Thursday.

"That investment would make the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Votes — the national federation’s political entities — two of the heaviest outside spenders on the Democratic side, and certainly among the top independent expenditure campaigns focused on reaching women," Alexander Burns reported.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin announced in November that it would endorse Democratic candidate Mary Burke for governor. At that time, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, was still considering a primary challenge.

"We will stand with Mary because she is a strong supporter of women’s freedom to access healthcare and we think she is the only candidate with a clear path to victory," said Tanya Atkinson, executive director of PPAWI, in a statement. "With so much at stake for women and families in Wisconsin, we need a strong candidate now who is ready to protect our freedom and to move Wisconsin forward."

The endorsement named Gov. Scott Walker as "one of the most anti-women's health governors in the country," referencing laws passed during his time as governor that limit women’s access to sex education, birth control, cancer screens, equal pay and abortion services.

As Madison as it gets: Get Cap Times' highlights sent daily to your inbox

In December, the Huffington Post ranked Wisconsin among the nine worst states for women's reproductive rights. According to the article, 70 new abortion restrictions were passed into law across the U.S. in 2013. Since Walker took office in 2011, at least 11 policy changes through eight laws have been passed that limit women’s access to reproductive care and equal pay.

NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin has encouraged pro-choice supporters to talk about the issue with their friends and neighbors this year. The group said 2014 is the year it goes "on offense."

Planned Parenthood will spend in at least 14 states. In addition to Wisconsin, targets include gubernatorial races in Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania and Senate races in North Carolina, Alaska and Montana. The $18 million-plus total includes $2.4 million spent in Virginia's 2013 governor's race, won by Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

The group plans to advertise online and on TV and to engage voters through door-knocking and campaign mail, the article said.

Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.