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GOP abortion bills move forward again despite likely vetoes from Gov. Tony Evers

Proposals would restrict, increase regulations on abortion in Wisconsin

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The Wisconsin State Senate is seen from above from a balcony.
The state Senate holds debate on the floor Wednesday, June 9, 2021, at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

The Republican-controlled state Senate voted Wednesday to approve several bills that would increase abortion regulations and restrictions in Wisconsin despite likely vetoes from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

One of the measures would cut off state funding for Planned Parenthood.

Supporters of the plan say it isn’t appropriate for taxpayer money to go to facilities that provide abortions, while opponents argue Planned Parenthood provides a number of other important health care services to women.

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During debate, state Sen. Kelda Roys, D-Madison, said the bill would take funding away from “critical health care clinics” that provide “last resort health care — especially to people in the state with few other options.”

Roys also argued the proposal, along with others related to abortion approved on Wednesday, send the message that women shouldn’t be able to make their own health care decisions.

“That’s freedom, that’s what it looks like to be a full person in the eyes of the law,” she said. “That’s what it looks like to be respected as the individual who knows more than anyone else about your life, your body, your health, your circumstances, your family.”

The plan passed on a 20-11 party-line vote, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats against.

Another bill passed on party lines would require doctors to tell women that they can change their minds when undergoing a chemical abortion.

State Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, said the proposal would ensure women are fully informed about the process ahead of them.

“Information and knowledge is power,” he said. “And what we are doing here is making sure that a woman has the most information she can, the best information she can.”

The Wisconsin Medical Society and Wisconsin section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists both oppose the bill. In testimony provided the last time the plan was introduced, a representative from the Wisconsin Medical Society said the group opposes it because it enables too much outside influence on patient-doctor relationships.

A third abortion-related bill approved Wednesday would ban doctors from performing abortions based on race, sex or congenital defect.

Evers vetoed all three of the proposals during the last legislative session. The Senate voted last month to pass another previously-vetoed abortion bill. That plan would penalize Wisconsin health care workers for failing to provide care in the rare case a baby is born alive after an attempted abortion.

All the measures have yet to be approved in the state Assembly, but if they pass in that chamber they are likely to once again be vetoed by the governor.

During debate, Roys accused the Republican majority of playing politics by bringing the plans forward.

“We know that none of these bills are going to become law,” she said. “We’re not making law here today, all we’re trying to do is hype up the conservative base before an election.”

Other proposals approved on Wednesday

The Senate also passed bills that would:

  • Bar discrimination in organ transplantation based on disability. The bill passed on a voice vote. It has yet to be voted on in the state Assembly.
  • Allow teenagers to work longer hours. The bill passed on a voice vote. It has yet to be voted on in the state Assembly.
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