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Bill Banning Abortion Coverage For State Workers Advances

Assembly Health Committee Approves Bill On Party-Line Vote

Wisconsin State Capitol
Kevin Lau (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A Republican-backed proposal that would ban the coverage of abortions for Wisconsin state workers has cleared the state Assembly Health Committee.

The panel approved the bill Wednesday on a party-line vote, with all Republicans in support and Democrats against. It now heads to the full Assembly for consideration.

The bill is opposed by the Wisconsin Medical Society, a variety of health groups and Planned Parenthood. It is supported by three anti-abortion groups and the Wisconsin Catholic Conference.

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A similar measure failed to pass the Legislature in 2013.

Even if it is approved this year, the effect could be minimal since state health plans now only cover abortions deemed to be medically necessary. The bill provides exemptions in cases of rape, incest or if the life of the mother is at risk.

The bill’s author, Rep. Andre Jaque, R-DePere, is one of the bills sponsors, and contends there is no clear standard for what abortions are medically necessary.

Opponents say the bill could affect access because without health insurance, some can’t afford an abortion.

Republican committee chair Joe Sanfelippo, of New Berlin, disagreed with the opponents.

“If a person is going to base the decision on whether or not to have a medical procedure done strictly on whether somebody else is going to pay for it or not, I just don’t see how that holds water,” Sanfelippo said.

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