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MADISON, Wis. — Democrats want Republicans, who control the State Legislature, to put a bill that would protect access to contraception to a vote before the 2023-24 legislative session ends this spring.

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and, more recently, the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling on frozen embryos, some lawmakers said access to birth control shouldn’t be taken for granted.

What You Need To Know

  • Democrats want Republican leaders, who control the Wisconsin Legislature, to vote on a bill to protect contraceptive access before the 2023-24 legislative session ends this spring

  • On Thursday, lawmakers delivered a petition of more than 15,000 signatures to GOP leaders with the hopes of convincing them to put the Right to Contraception Act to a vote

  • Lawmakers in the State Senate plan to meet for the last time next week, while the State Assembly has already adjourned for the year

  • Though unlikely, Republican leaders have the power to reconvene and bring lawmakers back to Madison if they choose

However, time is running out, with lawmakers in the Wisconsin Senate expected to wrap their work as soon as next week, which is why a mom from Merrimac has joined Democrats urging leaders to vote on protections for birth control as part of an effort to protect her teenage daughter.

Megan Lowe came to the Capitol on Thursday, not just for political reasons, but personal ones.

Megan Lowe and her daughter, Norah, tour the state Capitol alongside State Sen. Dianne Hesselbein and State Rep. Lisa Subeck. (Spectrum News 1/Mandy Hague)

“I guess, you know, I never thought I’d find myself in this situation being a mother to a medically complex child,” Lowe explained. “Our state’s most vulnerable people are really getting overlooked.”

Lowe’s daughter, Norah, a 15-year-old high school freshman and so-called “Swiftie,” has Rett syndrome, which means she is nonverbal and nonambulatory.

“A lot of times we’re pushed to the side; we’re forgotten about, and I just think that we need to make more noise,” Lowe added.

According to the organization Disability Justice, 83% of women with disabilities will be sexually assaulted in their lives. Faced with that statistic, Lowe consulted with Norah’s doctor and recently decided to start her on a daily oral contraceptive.

“To me, if she’s put in this situation where something happens and she’s impregnated, I mean, obviously, she can’t carry the child to term,” Lowe said.

Lowe shared her story during a press conference Thursday as lawmakers called for action from across the aisle. The Right to Contraception Act would protect Wisconsinites’ access to birth control and prevent government interference.

“This isn’t political in the real world. It’s only political in the halls of the Capitol. It’s only political in the halls of Congress. It’s only political in our courts,” State Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, said. “When you talk to the general public, people think you should have access to contraception. We have 15,000 people who actually took the time to sign a petition.”

State Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, looks over a petition of 15,000 signatures with a member of her staff. (Spectrum News 1/Mandy Hague)

Copies of that petition were delivered to Republican leaders in the Legislature on Thursday.

“There’s a lot we can be doing for the state of Wisconsin. Next week is an arbitrary deadline. We need to keep working,” Minority Leader Sen. Dianne Hesselbein, D-Middleton, said. “I’ve never known of another job where you stop working in March and you’re still continuing to be paid April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December, until January. That is not okay.”

For Lowe, and moms in similar situations, she said it’s also not okay to feel forgotten.

“This is some people’s reality,” Lowe said. “It may not be your reality, but this exists, and you can’t pretend it doesn’t, and legislate like it doesn’t.”


Spectrum News 1 reached out to Republican Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu’s office for comment and to find out whether the bill would get a vote next week; however, a response was not received before publication.