Vos and Assembly GOP: Abortion providers are not an essential service

    Wisconsin Capitol and the Forward statue wearing a protective face mask during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo credit: Nazan Gillie
    Wisconsin Capitol during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo credit: Nazan Gillie

    Speaker Robin Vos sent Gov. Tony Evers a letter on April 3 laying out his priorities for federal stimulus funding. Among other items, the letter asked for an exception to the governor’s stay-at-home order to permit people to gather for Easter and Passover services, and objected to the classification of abortion as an essential medical service. Vos made the letter available to reporters on Sunday

    Wisconsin law requires abortion procedures to be performed in a series of appointments with a doctor present, among other prescribed restrictions.

    “While we believe our priorities align on these issues related to healthcare, we know they diverge when it comes to protecting unborn life. We must voice our strong opposition to classifying abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, as an essential service,” Vos wrote in the letter that was cosigned by the members of his Assembly Republican caucus. 

    The 60 Republican legislators also object to personal protective equipment (PPE) being used by abortion providers in the letter:

    “Considering the federal government has provided guidance shutting down all elective procedures in our hospitals to conserve precious resources and PPE, it is unconscionable that you would allow these facilities to continue to operate. The PPE should be conserved for those frontline healthcare workers battling COVID 19, many of whom are asked to reuse the same mask for days.”

    And here is the bottom linen from Vos and the Assembly Republicans, tied to the potential $2.2 billion that Wisconsin is set to receive from the federal CARES Act: “While we have little hope that you will change your mind on this, we must firmly insist that no federal stimulus money go directly or indirectly to abortion providers.”

    The letter also addresses another looming area of disagreement — holding religious ceremonies in person on Easter, which is Sunday, April 12. 

    “Finally, during this crisis, it is more important than ever that we allow Wisconsinites to observe their individual faiths,” the letter wraps up. “To that end, we ask that you work with Wisconsin churches and temples to allow them to hold Easter or Passover services, even if it’s outside. For many of us, being a part of these services will offer much-needed solace during these uncertain times.”

    The letter also laid out what Vos, in a press release, listed as his top three priorities for the federal stimulus money that comes to Wisconsin: the needs of hospitals and healthcare facilities, safeguards for business owners and workers and assistance to local governments.




    Melanie Conklin
    Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.