NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Senator Vinehout Backpedals on Anti-Choice Women's Health Position

Considering a run for Governor, Vinehout misrepresents her record on women's health

Madison, WI NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin is calling out Senator Kathleen Vinehout today for inaccurate claims she made in a February 2, 2012 statement regarding her Senate record on reproductive choice. In her statement, Vinehout claims:

  • Amendments she proposed to the Birth Control Protection Act (SB 232) in 2008 would not interfere with the bill's intent to guarantee a woman's ability to fill a birth control prescription without unnecessary barriers. Instead, Vinehout claims, her change would have simply placed the responsibility on the pharmacy rather than the pharmacist.
  • The Prescription Protection law passed as part of the 2010 budget mirrored the changes Vinehout's amendments would have made to the proposed 2008 bill.

Both of the above statements are patently false. The amendments proposed by Vinehout included specific exemptions allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill a valid birth control prescription if either the pharmacist or the pharmacy objected on personal grounds. Specifically, one of Vinehout's amendments inserted language stating:

"A pharmacist may decline to dispense a contraceptive for a patient if either of the following applies and the pharmacist ensures that the patient will have access to the contraceptive elsewhere:

  1. The pharmacist objects to dispensing the contraceptive on moral or religious grounds.
  2. The pharmacist is employed at a pharmacy that is operated or controlled by an organization that objects to contraception on moral or religious grounds."

Under Vinehout's law, a pharmacist may have refused to fill a valid birth control prescription if either the pharmacist or the employing pharmacy objected, as long as the prescription could be filled "elsewhere." If the woman lives in a rural town with only one pharmacy, this could mean driving 45 minutes or more to another pharmacy just to have her prescription filled.

In her statement, Vinehout also points to her 2006 position statement on abortion, claiming that her position has not changed. She states, "I believe that abortion should be legal and safe. A woman should not be a criminal for having an abortion." Again, her record tells otherwise. In 2008, while serving on the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, SB 398 was allowed to die in committee after Vinehout indicated she was opposed to the bill. Had it reached a vote, Vinehout had indicated that she would have cast the deciding vote against the bill. SB 398 which would have repealed Wisconsin's unconstitutional criminal abortion ban and removed criminal penalties for women who seek an abortion.*

"At a time when we have seen unprecedented attacks on women's health and reproductive freedom, Wisconsin women are looking for a candidate for Governor who will stand up to these attacks and ensure access to the full range of reproductive health services," said NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin Executive Director Lisa Subeck. "As Senator Vinehout has indicated she is considering challenging Governor Walker in the upcoming recall election, it is critical that Wisconsin women know exactly where she stands on women's health."

Subeck continued, "Senator Vinehout is backpedaling on her anti-choice views and misrepresenting her past actions, but we will not be fooled. Her own record in the Senate tells the real story. Vinehout is not the leader we need to end the attacks on women's health launched by Governor Scott Walker and his anti-choice colleagues in the legislature."

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*Language in italics was changed after initial release due to erroneous information taken from an online account of the committee proceedings.

 
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