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Wisconsin Calls for Contraceptive Coverage

Wisconsin’s decision of making contraceptive coverage a part of state health care plans raises new concerns for pro-lifers
( [email protected] ) Aug 18, 2004 10:50 PM EDT

On Monday Aug 16, Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager issued a formal opinion of the state’s decision on making contraceptives insurance as part of health care plans that provide prescription drug coverage.

This would make state colleges, universities, and employers in Wisconsin that provide prescription drug coverage to students and employees to include contraceptives, including the sometimes-abortifacient "morning after pill."

In the written opinion, Lautenschlager reasoned that according to Wisconsin Fair Employment Act, denial of contraceptives coverage is a violation of both federal and state laws, and it would constitute sex discrimination because women’s access to equal health care would be in jeopardy.

"Our sense is that when it comes to prescription contraceptives, you cannot make exclusions, because it has gender-equity impacts, and only women get pregnant… Denial of contraceptive coverage when other prescription drugs are covered is a violation of Wisconsin and federal law," Ms. Lautenschlager stated in the opinion issued on Monday.

The inclusion of contraceptive coverage in health insurance is not the main issue here, what important is that pro-lifers believe that such an inclusion would serve as the gateway to abortion rights.

A pro-life group says this tactic is in preparation for Planned Parenthood to convince courts to take the mandate a step further. The question is, "Could a court not use the same argument in justifying mandated coverage of the abortion drug?"

"If you're using her [Lautenschlager's] argument there, what is holding back forcing employers to provide abortions," asked State Sen. Tom Reynolds

Meanwhile, Abortion advocates are complimenting the decision, saying pro-lifers in Wisconsin have been struggling to get such a measure passed in the legislature.

Last June, Catholic Charities in California appealed to California Supreme Court for its stand against contraceptive coverage law that was previously passed in California legislature. The Supreme Court later rejected the appeal ruling that only “religious employers” such as churches are exempt from providing coverage for birth control. It further explained that organizations that provide secular services such as immigration services are not exempt from the law. Catholic Charities was not exempt because it did not belong to the category of a church.