Planned Parenthood is attacking State Rep. Robin Vos, R-Caledonia, for supporting proposed legislation that would allow Wisconsin pharmacists to deny filling prescriptions, including those for birth control, if they believe the medicine could cause abortions.
The group last week placed a paid advertisement on The Journal Times' Web site that claimed Vos "wants to make it legal for pharmacists to DENY women their birth control pills by supporting" Assembly Bill 285. The advertisement will run for at least a month.
Arguing against attack Vos says the group has mistaken his take on birth control. "I'm a single guy," he said. "To say I am against birth control is to say I am against water." He said he wants to wait to learn more about the bill before he says more about the Planned Parenthood advertisement.
But the group continues to be concerned and vocal about birth control rights.
The spotlight on women's rights and birth control in Wisconsin started in 2002 when a pharmacist in Menomonie denied an attempt by a University of Wisconsin-Stout student to refill her birth control prescription. And there have since been attempts to limit college students' rights to birth control and other drugs on UW campuses.
What bill would do The Assembly bill that Vos has co-sponsored, according to the bill's description, would protect
pharmacists against "employment discrimination based on creed and exemption from liability and discipline for pharmacists who refuse to dispense for abortions, assisted suicides, and euthanasia."
Planned Parenthood's advertisement is the next step in making people aware of the birth control issue and Vos' position on it, said Chris Taylor, political director and staff attorney for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, which placed the advertisement.
"We want his constituents to know where he stands," she said.
Understanding bill Vos said a public hearing next month on the proposed bill, of which he is a sponsor, will help him decide whether the bill would damage a woman's right to get her birth control and if he will continue to support it.
"I would like to wait for the public hearing in September to see what the bill would do," said Vos, who was not immediately familiar with the bill and its objective.
"I support the goal for allowing pharmacists when they have a moral objection to chose not to dispense a prescription," he said. "I do not support it for birth control. I believe birth control is so widely used today that it can be for not only preventing pregnancies but other conditions."
He said he would not support a bill that would infringe on a woman's right to birth control or support measures to punish pharmacists who decide not to give drugs that would end an existing pregnancy.
But Taylor said the Assembly bill would still allow those pharmacists who believe birth control would abort a child to withhold the medicine from women.
"Clearly (Vos) has not read the bill he is sponsoring," she said. "Some pharmacists believe birth control causes an abortion. Why would you sign on to a bill where you were questioning whether the bill did that?" Supporter questions move Judith Hartig-Osanka, board member of state Planned Parenthood and state chair of the Republicans for Choice, said while she support Vos as a Republican, she doesn't support the bill on pharmacists.
Hartig-Osanka said she wants Vos to vote against the bill. "It puts the pharmacists ahead of the patient and her health, the employer and the doctor," she said. "That's what it does … If Robin supports the rights of women to have access to contraception, I would expect that he not be sponsoring these bills."