Tim Michels won’t say if he would ban Plan B pills in Wisconsin

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MADISON — Two of the top three Republican nominees for governor vowed not to ban emergency contraceptives after the U.S. Supreme Court dropped abortion cases in the state.

While the former Lt. gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Delafield management consultant Kevin Nicholson say they won’t ban Plan B and other similar pills if elected governor, the leading candidate in the field says nothing.

Tim Michels, a wealthy construction executive who leads the GOP primary by a percentage point in a recent state poll, wonders if he would sign legislation banning emergency contraceptives after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel obtained audio of a local GOP event in Calumet County received in which he was asked how he would deal with “abortion pills passed off as contraceptives”.

In the audio, an attendee at the event asks Michels, “I’m concerned about babies’ lives being lost to these abortion pills that are being passed off as contraceptives… What are your plans to deal with this?”

Michels first stated his support for the recent US Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, who reinstated an 1849 law banning most abortions.

“I believe that God is displeased with a country that allows babies to be killed. And tell you what, I believe there are two abortion victims. There’s the baby who just lost his life and the mother, or mother-to-be who is going to carry that emotional baggage with her for the rest of her life,” Michels said. “I’m anti-life and anti-life because of my beliefs I won’t apologize for that.”

After the attendee brings the conversation back to the pills, Michels says, “They’re going to be illegal in Wisconsin.”

More: With front runner Tim Michels skipping the event, 3 GOP gubernatorial candidates vow to push through Wisconsin’s abortion ban

Chris Walker, an adviser to the Michels campaign, said the participant was referring to pills that induce an abortion. Such pills are already illegal in Wisconsin under a 19th-century law that bans abortions except in situations where the mother’s life is in danger.

“Despite the best efforts of Tim’s opponents and the opinionated media to create problems that don’t exist, Tim strongly supports enforcement of Wisconsin law, which protects life. The person asking the question is clearly referring to pills that produce a miscarriage or abortion — not contraception,” Walker said in a statement.

Walker didn’t answer whether Michels’ comments meant he would sign legislation specifically banning women from taking the pills, or whether Michels would ban emergency contraception.

More: Is abortion legal in Wisconsin? How does the repeal of Roe v. Wade on Wisconsin’s abortion laws

Emergency contraception, known as the morning-after pill, is legal and can stop ovulation, block fertilization, or prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus if taken within three days of intercourse. The pills do not terminate pregnancies by expelling fertilized eggs that are already implanted in the uterus.

Nurses and doctors at the Hospital of Wisconsin are required by a 2008 law to inform victims of sexual assault of their right to emergency contraception and make the pills available to them if requested.

Women in states like Wisconsin, where abortion bans go into effect after Roe’s ouster, have stocked up on such pills to counter unplanned pregnancies that may occur under the state ban in the future.

More: Can I still buy Plan B? where can i get this What you should know after SCOTUS Roe v. Wade fell

Kleefisch, who is essentially linked to Michels in a recent Marquette University Law School poll, said in a recent interview with CBS58 that she would not seek to ban access to birth control, including emergency contraception.

“No, birth control will not be illegal once I’m governor of the state of Wisconsin,” Kleefisch said June 21.

A spokeswoman for Nicholson, who is also running in the GOP primary, said Nicholson will not sign legislation banning contraceptives “that are not intended to cause or are expected to cause abortions.”

Incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has announced that he would veto any legislation that tightens restrictions on birth control, emergency contraception or access to abortion.

More: Anti-abortion groups celebrate historic court victory as they seek ways to help women struggling with pregnancy

The idea of ​​banning emergency contraception could be possible under a willing governor. Parliament Speaker Robin Vos told the Journal Sentinel in May he might consider backing legislation banning Plan B.

Vos said he doesn’t want to ban what he called “presexual contraception” like IUDs, but needs to consider whether he would support a ban on emergency contraception.

“The morning-after pill, you know, we’d have to discuss that,” Vos said.

Vos was a 2005 sponsor of legislation that would have prevented the University of Wisconsin system from advertising, prescribing, or distributing emergency contraceptives. The Assembly passed it 49-41, but the State Senate never took it up and the measure died.

The ban on emergency contraception would prevent doctors in Wisconsin emergency rooms from giving the pills to victims of sexual assault, a common treatment for such victims, according to the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

More: In a post-Roe world, some medical students reconsider their plans to practice in Wisconsin

Emergency contraception like plan B is not the same as abortion pills that terminate pregnancies.

Medicated abortions can be performed during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy according to Food and Drug Administration regulations. The procedure involves taking two different drugs, one to stop a pregnancy and the second to force a woman’s body to expel the fetus through contractions.

Contact Molly Beck at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @ MollyBeck.

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