Wisconsin Democratic lawmakers, women’s health advocates, and health-care professionals on Thursday introduced a bill to protect access to reproductive health services in the face of a GOP-led onslaught against abortion access.
In a state where access to reproductive health care is quickly disappearing, the Patients Reproductive Health Act aims to give doctors the option of providing medically accurate information and necessary services to women without obstruction and discrimination.
State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and State Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) unveiled the unprecedented legislation at a press conference at the Wisconsin State Capitol.
The Patients Reproductive Health Act would support Wisconsin women and physicians in accessing and providing a full spectrum of reproductive health services. Though the bill has little hope of passing in the state’s current GOP-led legislature, it aims to bring awareness to the disappearing rights of women and physicians in the state.
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Rewire spoke to some of the authors of the act before Thursday’s press conference at the Wisconsin State Capitol.
“In the last four years, we have seen Republicans introduce, pass, and sign into law several bills that interfere with the doctor-patient relationship,” Erpenbach said. “The goal of our legislation is to ensure that all patients in Wisconsin have access to comprehensive, evidence-based health care. It’s time for politicians to get out of the exam room.”
The bill would end the forced waiting periods and mandatory counseling laced with inaccurate information pushed by Republican legislators. It would also criminalize patient and doctor harassment, violence, and intimidation.
“When someone walks into their doctor’s office they should feel comfortable with their doctor and confident that the information they receive is based on medically accurate information—free from wacky junk science,” Taylor said. “Questions and answers with our doctors should be based in face, not the agenda of politicians.”
Wisconsin GOP lawmakers in 2012 required that students receive an abstinence-based, or abstinence-centered education free from any mention of abortion. Republicans also banned private insurance from covering abortion care in 2012.
The Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health helped draft the Patients Reproductive Health Act. Sara Finger, the group’s executive director, told Rewire that the situation in Wisconsin right now is dire.
“There is a complete disconnect right now between the state legislators that occupy our state capitol and the women across the state. They are living in a bubble right now,” Finger said. “They are passing policies that are completely in opposition to the values and needs of women in this state, and they are doing it in opposition and complete disrespect to the medical community.”
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