MADISON (WITI) -- Should taxpayer dollars be used to fund healthcare procedures that some say are inconsistent with their values -- such as abortion? That's the subject of a heated debate at the state Capitol.
A state lawmaker is proposing a bill that would place new restrictions on abortion, and make it more difficult to get contraception.
The bill would prohibit the use of public money to pay for abortions in public employees' health insurance plans, and would relieve certain religious organizations and employers from having to cover contraceptives.
"This simply says: your public tax dollars shouldn't be paying for elective abortions," Rep. Andre Jacque (R - DePere) said.
Rep. Jacque is the bill's author.
"It basically respects taxpayer conscience in terms of not spending taxpayer dollars to fund abortion," Rep. Jacque said.
Rep. Sandy Pasch (D - Shorewood) is one of the bill's leading opponents.
"This is a misdirected sideshow as far as I'm concerned. He seems very misinformed," Rep. Pasch said.
Rep. Pasch contends that women use contraceptives for purposes other than abortion, and she says poor women are more likely to delay critical health decisions if their insurance won't cover birth control.
"Women need contraception to manage their families, to be able to have jobs, to be able to manage their health and he's pushing this extreme agenda that really does not fit with the needs and interests of the people of Wisconsin," Rep. Pasch said.
Jacque says taxpayers should not be forced to pay for things that violate their religious and moral values.
"Our public tax dollars should not be funding elective abortions," Rep. Jacque said.
Rep. Pasch says the bill would make it harder and more expensive to get an abortion in Wisconsin, and is aimed at limiting women's access to birth control. Rep. Pasch says contraceptives are critical to women's health and drugs should not be targeted simply because they prevent pregnancies.
"It would take Wisconsin in a direction that really doesn't value women's health. There's so much evidence that if women can plan their pregancies, there's less infant mortality, that women are healther, that their families are healthier. It will mean that women will be forced into less healthy situations. I'm not sure how they'll do that for so many women living in poverty," Rep. Pasch said.
"Ultimately when you see Democrats object to bills on the floor, it's not necessarily in relation to the merits of the policy or where the public actually feels on the issue," Rep. Jacque said.
Rep. Jacque says he believes he has support in the Republican-controlled Assembly, but Rep. Pasch says bills like this are a waste of time when the state Legislature should be focused on the economy.