Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Senate passes contraceptive legislation

The Wisconsin State Senate passed a controversial bill Tuesday requiring insurance companies to cover all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and services.

The bill, introduced by Senator Gwendolynne Moore, passed 18-15 in a vote that divided the Senate almost entirely by party. This is the third consecutive session in which Moore has introduced some form of this bill.

Since 1998, 17 states have passed similar legislation requiring insurance companies to cover the cost of contraceptives.

More than 30 local organizations have announced support for the bill, including Planned Parenthood, which has been active in lobbying this legislation.

Paige Shipman, legislative director of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, said most Americans support requiring insurance companies to cover contraceptive costs.

“It was an incredible historic vote for an incredibly popular piece of legislation,” Shipman said. “This bill is about basic health care coverage for women. This is a common-sense policy.”

This bill, according to Shipman, goes beyond fair and equal health care coverage and would reduce the number of abortions performed.

“It’s time for the Wisconsin legislature to take concrete steps toward reducing unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion by passing the contraceptive coverage equity bill,” Shipman said. “Every legislator who supports fairness in health coverage should support this common sense policy.”

Shipman said seven out of 10 people support including contraceptives under health insurance. Recently, courts have begun to define the exclusion of contraceptives from health plans as discrimination.

In December 2000, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that an employer whose health care plan did not cover contraceptives was violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In June, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik ruled that by not covering contraception, Bartell Drug Co. was guilty of discriminating against employee Jennifer Erickson based on her gender.

State Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison, praised the State Senate for passing the bill.

“We are one step closer to increasing basic health care for Wisconsin’s women,” Berceau said. She said debate by Assembly Republican leadership has moved the focus away from equal health care for men and women, and is instead focusing on the birth control pill as a form of abortion.
“To say that contraception equals abortion is extreme,” Berceau said. “Contraception is a preventative measure that women use to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to plan strong, healthy families. For most women, contraception is basic health care.”
But some, like Susan Armacost, legislative director for Wisconsin Right to Life, said this bill would force insurance companies to pay for surgical abortions.
“The opposition to this bill has nothing to do with using birth control,” said Armacost. “We support birth control. The problem with the bill is the language and the fact that it includes abortion in the definition.”
Shipman said the bill specifically states abortion would not be covered.

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