.- The Wisconsin Catholic Conference has decided not to oppose a bill that would require all hospitals, including Catholic health facilities, to distribute emergency contraceptives to female victims of rape.
A spokesperson for the conference said the group removed its objections to the bill after it was revised to allow hospitals to give women a pregnancy test before providing emergency contraception reported The Wisconsin Capital Times. The bill reportedly also includes the right to conscientious objection.
Kim Wades of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference told the newspaper that many Catholic hospitals are already dispensing emergency contraception to rape victims.
Emergency contraception, most often referred to as Plan B or the morning after pill, is composed of a high dose of birth control pills that has shown to prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of intercourse.
Sue Armacost of Wisconsin Right to Life said her group is not taking a stand on the bill, and that it is important to the group that the Catholic bishops were not opposing the bill, reported The Wisconsin Capital Times.
The only group lobbying against the bill is Pro-Life Wisconsin. Matt Sande, the group's director of legislation, said in a news release he opposed the bill because emergency contraception can work to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus and he considers this "pre-implantation chemical abortion."
The bill is likely to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate and Gov. Jim Doyle would sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.
The Republican-controlled Assembly has opposed the bill in the past and tried, unsuccessfully, to prohibit University of Wisconsin campuses from prescribing or distributing emergency contraception.
However, in a surprising move, Rep. Terry Musser (R-Black River Falls) voiced his support for the bill and said yesterday that he would circulate the Compassionate Care for Rape Victims bill to his Assembly colleagues immediately.
Musser did not support the bill when it was introduced last session, but said he changed his mind after hearing testimony from rape victims at a public hearing on the bill last week before a Senate committee, reported The Wisconsin Capital Times.