Earlier today, Wisconsin’s senate passed several Republican-authored abortion bills.
The bills would, among other things, prohibit abortions based on the race of the fetus or any disabilities it may have, defund abortion providers by mostly barring them from participation in medicaid and set new reporting standards for abortion providers.
Medical facilities are already required to report abortion data to the state’s Department of Health Services — but that information is essentially anonymized, and can’t be traced back to a single provider. The proposed legislation would eliminate that anonymity.
Sen. Chris Larson, a Democrat from Milwaukee, says that could place providers and patients in the crosshairs of far-right activists and domestic terrorists.
“You guys want a list of where abortions are performed in the state of Wisconsin,” Larson said. “You want to have a list and you want it made public. What the heck does that have to do with protecting women? What the heck does that have to do with protecting anybody — other than making it that much easier for protesters and the domestic terrorists that hide in their midst to attack doctors and women.”
All of the abortion bills passed along a party-line vote, with all Democrats in opposition and all Republicans in favor. They face a near-certain veto from Governor Tony Evers — which Sen. Kelda Roys, a Democrat from Madison, pointed out today.
“What’s happening today with these anti-choice bills is deeply cynical,” she said. “Because we know that none of these bills are going to become law. We’re not making law here today, all we’re trying to do is hype up the conservative base before an election and try to put the governor in a tough spot. But we know he’s going to veto these.”
In response to the Republican-backed legislation, Roys and her Democratic colleagues have floated a counter-proposal dubbed the RESPECT act. The bill would streamline access to abortion and reproductive care by revoking several laws enacted by Republicans in recent years — and it faces long odds in the Republican-held legislature.
“We should take up the RESPECT act, which was just introduced earlier this week, to help ensure that politicians don’t dictate what doctors say to patients, but that doctors themselves are the ones providing individual, patient-centered care — as is the cornerstone of the informed consent process,” Roys said today.
Wisconsin’s informed consent policies require abortion providers to supply certain information at least 24 hours before an abortion is performed.
One of the Republican’s bills would require providers to give additional information that would “inform a woman about the possibilities of continuing a pregnancy after ingesting an abortion-inducing drug.”
Senator Chris Kapenga, of Delafield, was the sole Republican who spoke in favor of the bills today.
“What we’re doing here is making sure that a woman has the best information she can, so if she makes the decision to say, after the first pill that’s taken in a chemical abortion — if she chooses not to take the second pill, it’s more information so she can make a better-informed decision and she knows that she can continue the pregnancy if she chooses,” Kapenga said.
The Republican-authored abortion bills are awaiting a final vote in the Assembly, before heading to Governor Tony Evers. According to the Associated Press, Evers vetoed an identical package of legislation last session.
Also today, the Senate approved a bill that seeks to address a recent spike in catalytic converter thefts and a bill expanding permitted work hours for kids under 16 during the summer.
Photo by Jonah Chester for WORT-FM