MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Republican lawmakers find themselves in an unusual position, advocating for a bill they’ve introduced that broadens birth control access.
Anti-abortion groups that are typically their allies are firmly against the measure, which would allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills. A public hearing on the bill was set for Wednesday in the Assembly Health Committee.
“Does it scientifically make sense to prohibit my taking birth control because you want me to see a doctor first?” Rep. Mary Felzkowski of Wisconsin’s 35th District and bill supporter said. “It doesn’t make sense anymore. Obviously, the science behind it says it’s okay and that the drug is safe,”
Opposing views disagree, saying pharmacists may not have all of the information they need to prescribe these birth control options.
“A significant number of medical conditions pose a theoretical threat or proven risk or even an unacceptable health risk for contraceptives,” Wisconsin Family Action President Julaine Appling said. “If the individual has an undisclosed or unknown condition that dictates contraception should not be used and the pharmacist in good faith prescribes and dispenses some form of contraception, the individual’s health is at a minimum compromise. Should this burden rest on a pharmacist who is severely limited to what he or she can learn about the real health of the individual seeking contraception.”
The measure gives Republicans a chance to argue they are advocating for women on the issue of expanding access to birth control, an area where Democrats typically lead.
No Democrat is signed on to the measure, even though they also favor expanding access to birth control. Democrats introduced their own bill that has fewer restrictions on pharmacists. That measure has no Republican co-sponsors and has not been scheduled for a hearing.
Ten other states have laws allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control.