Assembly approves 3 anti-abortion bills Thursday

Bill requiring ultrasound heads to governor

Published On: Jun 13 2013 03:36:06 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 14 2013 07:32:02 AM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

The Wisconsin Assembly passed three anti-abortion bills Thursday.

The last bill of the day, passed late Thursday night, would require women to get an ultrasound before getting an abortion.

Abortion opponents say requiring women seeking an abortion to get an ultrasound would make them more likely to save the fetus.

"The woman, while she would have every opportunity to look at the ultrasound and make the decision for herself, she can turn her head away," said Rep. Robin Vos, the Assembly speaker. "There is no requirement that you actually observe (the ultrasound)."

The measures made it through despite Democrats’ complaints that Republicans were wasting time and invading women’s privacy.

"It's disgraceful that you're playing around with women's health care for your own personal political gain," said Rep. Amy Vruwink, D-Wood County. "This is a plain and simple 'gotcha' vote for next year when you can all (knock on voters' doors) and say, 'Look, we're not for abortion.'"

Much of the debate happened with the Assembly galleries nearly empty. Republicans had cleared the galleries after protesters disrupted debate.

One of the earlier bills passed would make public workers' abortions more expensive and allow religious organizations to refuse insurance coverage for contraceptives.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Andre Jacque, a De Pere Republican, would prohibit using public money to cover abortions in public employees' health insurance plans. Anti-abortion group Wisconsin Right to Life says 18 other states already ban insurance coverage for abortions for public employees.

The bill also would exempt religious organizations and employers' insurers from requirements in current state law that mandate coverage must include contraceptives.

The chamber approved the measure Wednesday on a 58-39 vote despite minority Democrats' complaints that Republicans were legislating women's reproductive choices when they should be working to improve Wisconsin's economy.

Another bill would outlaw abortions based on the fetus’ sex.

Rep. Steve Kestell, an Elkhart Lake Republican, wrote the bill. It prohibits anyone from knowingly performing a sex-selective abortion.

The measure also would enable the fetus' mother, father or grandparent to sue the abortion provider for emotional and psychological harm and seek an injunction prohibiting the provider from performing another sex-selective abortion. The court proceedings would be secret unless the plaintiffs specify they could be held in open court.

The Assembly passed the measure 58-39 on Thursday despite minority Democrats' contention that sex-selective abortions aren't a problem in Wisconsin.

Two of the proposals go next to the state Senate. The bill requiring women to get ultrasounds before having an abortion heads to the governor's desk for his signature.