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Opinion

Post-Roe Wisconsin: A doctor speaks up for contraception rights

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by Dr. Kristin Lyerly, Wisconsin Examiner
January 22, 2024

As we mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade on Jan. 22, Wisconsinites are confronted with a stark reality: The rights we cherish are fragile and must be actively defended and enshrined in law. The overturning of Roe v. Wade transcends the issue of abortion — it’s a wake-up call about the vulnerability of our reproductive rights, including the right to contraception. 

Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurrence in the Dobbs decision called for the U.S. Supreme Court to “reconsider” the right to contraception, established by Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965. Soon after, 195 House Republicans voted against the “Right to Contraception Act,” a bill that sought to codify this fundamental health care right into federal law. Their opposition reflects a growing trend within the MAGA Republican party to challenge and restrict reproductive rights. This trend has given rise to anti-contraception legislation and extreme policy statements at the state level, posing direct threats to women’s health and autonomy.

As an OB/GYN in Northeast Wisconsin, I am acutely aware of the indispensable role contraception plays in women’s healthcare. It’s a cornerstone for making informed family planning decisions and a critical treatment and prevention for conditions like endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and ovarian cancer. Nearly every sexually active woman will use contraception at some point in her lifetime for a variety of reasons. From family planning to treating chronic conditions to cancer prevention, contraception is essential health care. It is critical that we protect our ability to access these safe, effective, and necessary medications. The potential loss of this right is an immediate and deeply concerning threat with far-reaching implications for the health and autonomy of our patients. 

Wisconsin’s reproductive freedoms currently rely on U.S. Supreme Court precedents. However, the fall of Roe is a chilling reminder that such protections can be reversed. The possibility of the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the right to contraception is not just hypothetical, it’s an imminent threat. If this occurs and Wisconsin has not codified this right, the impact on women’s health and autonomy will be devastating. We cannot afford to leave such a fundamental right susceptible to the shifting whims of a far-right Court.

The Wisconsin Right to Contraception Act is crucial to ensure continuous and unrestricted access to contraception, protecting it from political and legal challenges. 

As a medical doctor, I implore legislators and the Governor to recognize the gravity of this moment. Poll after poll shows that more than 90% of Americans support the right to contraception. Access to contraception in Wisconsin is paramount for reproductive health and autonomy. It enables informed health and life decisions. Securing this right is crucial for the well-being of both individuals and communities.

In my practice, I witness daily the profound impact of contraception access on individuals and families. From helping a young woman manage her endometriosis to empowering a couple to plan their family on their terms, these stories underscore the necessity of protecting this right.

On this Roe anniversary,  the passage of Wisconsin’s Right to Contraception Act is not merely a policy debate, it’s a pledge to safeguard the health and freedom of our people..

Vice President Kamala Harris’s visit to Wisconsin today to kick off her ‘Reproductive Freedoms Tour’ underscores the critical nature and national significance of our struggle. Lawmakers’ inability to codify abortion access federally led to its revocation. A similar fate must not befall the right to contraception.

This story is republished from the Wisconsin Examiner under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.