Republicans look for support for four abortion bills

MGN Online
MGN Online(WKYT)
Published: May. 7, 2019 at 9:24 PM CDT
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State Republicans were looking for support Tuesday from the Assembly Health Committee to change Wisconsin's abortion laws.

There are four bills being proposed, all authored by state Republicans.

One bill cuts Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, even though federal law forbids using Medicaid money for abortions.

Another bill makes it illegal to abort a fetus based on defects, race or gender.

A third requires providers to tell a woman seeking a drug-induced abortion that the process can be reversed.

The fourth bill requires health care providers to care for a fetus that survives an abortion attempt. If a medical professional fails to provide care, they could be charged with a felony and face 6 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

"If that baby takes a breath, not providing the care that baby deserves would be illegal, and taking that baby's life would be murder," Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) argued.

Since federal and state laws already require medical professionals to take those actions, one lawmaker at Tuesday's hearing called the bill "redundant."

"It's very specific in state statute right now," Rep. Lisa Subeck (D-Madison) said.

"It seems pretty clear to me that the goal here is to make it more challenging for doctors to comfortably provide safe and legal, constitutionally guaranteed health care to women," Subeck, a member of the Assembly Health Committee, said. "This bill is clearly a solution in search of a problem. This is not happening in Wisconsin; it's already illegal in Wisconsin, and even providing abortions later in pregnancy is already illegal in Wisconsin."

In Wisconsin, there is a 20-week abortion ban.

Senate President Roger Roth (R-Appleton) supported the legislation, saying, "If you think this bill is restricting abortion, I've got news for you: It doesn't. This bill removes the ambiguity and gray area and makes that definitive statement than any child, any survivor of a failed abortion, it specifies what has to be done -- immediate care provide for child and continuing care by being transported to a hospital."

National data show a fetus born alive after an abortion attempt is rare, and there are no records of it happening in Wisconsin.

But Steineke says there's no harm in moving the proposal forward.

"Even so, I'd ask the governor and others who oppose this legislation ask a simple question — one the media refuses to ask — even if what you are saying is true, what is the harm in passing this bill? What harm does this bill do? Why would we not extend these additional protections to the most vulnerable among us as we often do in other state statutes?"

The bill will be voted on by the Assembly Health Committee this Thursday. Republicans hold majorities in both the Assembly and Senate.

Gov. Tony Evers has already publicly said he'll veto the bill if it reaches his desk.