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Critics slam Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley for 2006 birth control column

Critics slam Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley for 2006 birth control column

A liberal group is accusing state Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley of masking her views on reproductive health in her effort to remain on the high court. 

Bradley, who is one of four candidates vying for the seat formerly held by Justice N. Patrick Crooks, was appointed by Gov. Scott Walker to serve the remainder of Crooks' term after his death in September. She is heralded as conservatives' choice for the seat, though she has vowed to keep politics out of the race. 

In 2006, Bradley penned a column for the now-defunct publication "MKE" in support of a proposal that would have allowed pharmacists to refuse to fill certain prescriptions, including contraceptives, based on their religious beliefs. 

Asked whether she would still support such a law, through a spokeswoman, Bradley declined to weigh in, citing the potential for the issue to come before the high court.

"Justice Bradley believes it is the role of the Legislature to make the law and the role of a justice to apply it," said spokeswoman Madison Wiberg. "Due to the potential for this issue to come in front of the state Supreme Court, it would be improper for Justice Bradley to give an opinion at this time."

In the 2006 column, Bradley said opponents of the pharmacists' conscience clause elevated "women's convenience over pharmacists' objections to being a party to murder." She argued it would be reasonable to expect women to go to another pharmacy, a Planned Parenthood clinic or an emergency room to obtain contraception. 

"Pharmacists have been fired and disciplined for exercising the belief, which can be scientifically supported, that contraceptives may cause the death of a conceived, unborn child by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus," Bradley wrote in the column.

Bradley's spokeswoman did not answer a question about which kinds of birth control she was referring to in the column.

"The law protects women who choose to terminate pregnancy by chemical means. The law protects doctors who choose to facilitate the termination of life by chemical means. The law certainly should protect pharmacists who choose not to be a party to the morally abhorrent termination of life," Bradley wrote in her column.

At the time, Bradley worked in the private sector, as associate general counsel for RedPrairie Corp. in Waukesha. Her column appeared as a counterpoint to one by Planned Parenthood board of directors member Tia Torhorst.

Jenni Dye, research director for One Wisconsin Now, said Bradley is attempting to hide her views from the public now that she's a candidate. Dye said Bradley's column portrays "radical right-wing views on women's reproductive health care."

"It looks like on women's health Rebecca Bradley has learned the lessons of her mentor Gov. Walker well — hide your right-wing views from the public when asking for their vote, and take away their access to comprehensive reproductive health care after you get elected," Dye said. "On contraception, Rebecca Bradley thinks the jury is still out on science."

Bradley was appointed by Walker to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court in 2012 and the 1st District Court of Appeals this May. She was re-elected to the circuit court in 2013.

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Jessie Opoien is the Capital Times' opinion editor. She joined the Cap Times in 2013, covering state government and politics for the bulk of her time as a reporter. She has also covered music, culture and education in Madison and Oshkosh.