GOP Bill Aims To Expand Access To Birth Control In Wisconsin
Currently in Wisconsin, only doctors can prescribe hormonal birth control. But Republican lawmakers are trying to change that by advocating for a bill that broadens birth control access. The bill is causing some division in the GOP.
The Assembly health committee held a public hearing Wednesday to debate a Republican bill that would allow pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraceptive patches and birth control pills. First up to advocate for the measure was Rep. Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay.
"We are proposing to give women more choices for reproductive health care, decrease the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions in our state, save taxpayer dollars and reduce generational poverty," said Kitchens.
But not all GOP members were on board with the bill. Rep. Chuck Wichgers, R-Muskego, took offense with some of the language being used in the proposal.
"Define unwanted perspective. What is an unwanted pregnancy?" he questioned his Republican colleagues.
It wasn’t just semantics that opponents took issue with. The cultural and moral implications of the bill were also hotly debated. Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, a conservative Christian lobbying group, argues that access to contraception wouldn’t help alleviate poverty.
"Because the fastest way to put a child or a woman into poverty in our state is for a baby to be born out of wedlock or for a woman to endure an unwed birth or be involved in a divorce. The answer to poverty isn’t a contraception. The answer to poverty is to return to a marriage culture," said Appling.
Democrats also have a bill circulating in the Legislature. A broader bill. Unlike the GOP proposal, it wouldn't place age limits on who could get the prescription, and patients wouldn't have to complete a self-assessment form or go through a blood pressure screening. The Democratic bill also would allow pharmacists to prescribe Depo-Provera contraceptive injections.
Currently, no Democrats have signed on to the Republican proposal, which does have the backing of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. To become law, the measure would have to pass the Senate and Assembly, both of which are controlled by Republicans, and be signed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.