MADISON, Wis. - State lawmakers took up a handful of abortion bills during a public hearing Tuesday, as Republicans vowed to “protect life” and Democrats questioned their GOP colleagues’ motives for proposing the legislation.
One bill would require health care providers to ensure that any child born alive as the result of an abortion is cared for and taken immediately to a hospital. Health care providers who don’t do so could face up to six years in prison.
“It’s not anti-abortion when the baby survives,” said one of the proposal’s authors, Republican Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke.
On the born-alive abortion bill, author @SenatorRoth says it “removes the ambiguity and gray area” in the law and protects life.— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) May 7, 2019
In response, @LisaSubeck says, “This bill is unnecessary and redundant.” #news3now pic.twitter.com/aCIQDIFhck
The abortion bills face little chance of being signed into law in Wisconsin with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers at the helm, but Republicans hope to motivate their conservative bases heading into the 2020 election.
Evers has already promised to veto the born-alive bill. The proposal would also make killing a child born alive as a result of an attempted abortion a felony, and health care providers could face life in prison as as result.
Although national statistics show it’s not often babies are born alive as a result of abortions, Steineke asked what the harm is in passing the bill. It is unclear whether it has ever happened in Wisconsin, as state health officials have said they don’t keep data on it.
Some of the most vocal opposition to the proposal came from Democratic Rep. Lisa Subeck, who called the bill unnecessary and redundant, saying homicide is already illegal in Wisconsin.
.@PPAWI’s statement on today’s hearing: “Abortion providers already comply with existing laws and are held to the highest standard of care, just like any other medical professional. Infanticide is illegal, and abortion later in pregnancy is already banned in Wisconsin.” #news3now pic.twitter.com/ODL7NKcQZ8— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) May 7, 2019
Mel Barnes, the legal and policy director at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, released a statement in response to the public hearing, saying in part, “Abortion providers already comply with existing laws and are held to the highest standard of care, just like any other medical professional. Infanticide is illegal, and abortion later in pregnancy is already banned in Wisconsin.”
Another proposal brought up before the Assembly Committee on Health would prohibit a provider from performing an abortion based solely on race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome or another congenital disability.
One of the authors, Republican Sen. Patrick Testin, said the proposal is a “non-discrimination bill,” not an anti-abortion proposal. However, Democrats questioned why no disability rights organizations were registered in favor of the bill.
.@RepDittrich says she’s “particularly passionate” about her bill to prohibit abortions based solely on the fetus’ race, sex or potential diagnosis of Down syndrome or another disability, etc. @SenatorTestin says it’s not an abortion bill but a non-discrimination bill #news3now pic.twitter.com/3390R0XbRv— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) May 7, 2019
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos testified in favor of his bill to require certain information to be provided to a woman if she plans on having a drug-induced abortion and require certain information be asked of women who plan on having an abortion.
There are two doses in the drug regimen of a drug-induced abortion, and the bill from Vos and Sen. Chris Kapenga would require providers to tell women they can save the fetus after taking the first dose of the drug. Providers would also be required to report to the state why a woman is getting an abortion, how many abortions she has had and how she is paying for the abortion.
The other proposals would prohibit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services from certifying private health care providers and people who perform abortions under Medicaid, effectively cutting off Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood.
Subeck repeatedly asked the bills’ authors whether they support the Healthy Women, Healthy Babies initiative in Evers’ budget proposal, which she called “intricately related” to the proposals on the table.
In her statement, Barnes asked lawmakers to accept federal Medicaid expansion money and support the women’s health initiatives in Evers’ plan.
“Expanding Medicaid would mean more people, especially women and children, have access to the health care they need. That’s something we all should be able to agree on," Barnes said.
While some GOP lawmakers have said they would consider expanding Medicaid, Vos has said it will never happen.
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