Wisconsin Needs the Patients Reproductive Health Act

Patients should be able to trust that the medical information they receive from their physicians is medically accurate, not politically dictated. Patients should also be able to trust that the medical care their physicians provide is based on best practices and patient health, not politics.

And every physician must have the right to provide medically accurate care based upon the best medical science and their medical training, not a script dictated by politicians.

Unfortunately, when it comes to reproductive health care, Governor Walker and Republican legislators have inserted themselves into the exam room, interfering with what physicians tell women patients and dictating what health care services physicians must and must not provide. Wisconsin law is now rife with abortion bans, 24 hour waiting periods, mandated scripts and invasive ultrasounds.

Republican politicians love to talk about the importance of privacy and freedom when it comes to prohibiting investigations into political corruption or when allowing unlimited, secret corporate spending in elections.

But when it applies to women's healthcare, they violate basic privacy rights and interfere with medical decisions that should be between a patient and her physician, not patients and politicians. Many of the policies advanced by this Governor and this Legislature make it impossible for Wisconsin women to receive quality, medically accurate health care.

That is why we are introducing the Patients Reproductive Health Act (PRHA). This first ever legislation takes women's health from the land of political activism by Republican politicians and returns it to patient centered care based on medicine and best practices that patients need and that physicians want to provide.

The PRHA does this by establishing a legal right for patients to receive medically accurate information from their provider, and a physician's right to provide medically accurate information free from political interference. It also strikes down laws that have no basis in medical evidence or widely accepted standards of patient care, including abortion bans, waiting periods, mandated medical scripts and invasive, unnecessary procedures.

Though this bill recognizes the conscience rights of individual health care providers who do not wish to provide reproductive health care, it also recognizes and protects the conscience rights of providers who believe they have a moral and ethical obligation to provide reproductive health care services that patients need.

Finally, the PRHA protects both patients and providers from dangerous and threatening behavior that continues to be directed towards those who seek and those who provide reproductive health care.

This bill puts the focus of health care where it should be- on the medical needs of the patient rather than on the political agenda of the Republican Party.

At the end of the day, the PRHA is about getting back to basics and putting personal, private health care decisions where they belong--not in the Capitol, but between patients and their physicians.

This column is written by Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison), who represents the 76th Assembly District, and Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton), who represents the 27th Senate District.