Reproductive rights policy refers to any law or regulation that impacts on a person’s ability to control if, when, and how they build a family. This includes healthcare, education, and any other area that impacts on the wellbeing of families. This covers a huge area because if you don’t know if you can raise a child in comfort and security, then you don’t have true freedom of choice when you become pregnant.
NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin’s advocacy programs concentrate on abortion and contraception access, and work with partners on broader issues such as paid parental leave and pregnancy accommodation at work. In particular, we lobby the Wisconsin State Assembly, Wisconsin State Senate, and Governor of Wisconsin, to ensure that right of women to control their bodies is protected in state law.
Across the United States, reproductive health policy is a combination of federal and state law. When federal and state law are in conflict, it is federal law that applies.
All women in America have a right to access abortion before the fetus could possibly survive after birth, generally considered 24 weeks. This was established in the 1973 Supreme Court Decision Roe v. Wade. In Wisconsin, abortion is banned after 20 weeks, unless the woman’s life could be saved by terminating her pregnancy. Performing or receiving a non-emergency abortion after 20 weeks is a felony. This law has been in place since 2015.
Abortion can be costly, and there are a number of restrictions at the state and federal levels that impact on affordability. The federal Hyde Amendment bans federal funds such as Medicaid from being used for abortion. Wisconsin law also bans state funds such as Badgercare from being used for abortion. This means many women have to rely on charities for legal assistance and remain pregnant longer than they want to be.
Telemedical abortions – the abortion pill being prescribed over the phone or web and delivered to patients – is banned in Wisconsin. This restricts access for women living in rural areas.
A number of laws in Wisconsin influence how doctors and other clinic staff perform certain procedures and communicate with abortion patients. While abortion remains safe, clinic staff are required to exaggerate the risks associated with abortion and attempt to dissuade patients from getting an abortion performed.
A range of contraception (birth control) options are available to women in Wisconsin and there are few laws restricting birth control access. To ensure access, pharmacies must have someone on staff at all times who is willing to dispense prescription birth control. Under the federal Affordable Care Act, prescription birth control must be covered with no co-pay.
Emergency contraception (commonly known as Plan B) is available over the counter at pharmacies. Under Wisconsin law, emergency contraception must be offered to victims of sexual assault for free at a hospital. Emergency Contraception prevents conception, and does not cause an abortion or miscarriage.
Crisis Pregnancy Centers
Crisis Pregnancy Centers are fake clinics run by anti-choice groups. These give misleading information in order to persuade women to continue unplanned pregnancies. While these are not medical centers, CPCs often claim to offer similar services as Planned Parenthood.
There are approximately 80 CPCs operating in Wisconsin (outnumbering Planned Parenthood clinics by four to one). Unlike in other states, there is no law preventing CPCs from lying to the Wisconsin public. Through a grant program within the Department of Health and Family Services, Wisconsin taxpayers give $69,300 to CPCs annually. In 2016, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation approved the sale of “Choose Life” license plates that also provide funding for these fake clinics.