Pregnancy Protection Package introduced into Assembly
3 bills would ensure pregnant women retain their rights
Berceau authored Assembly Bill 861 after a Texas hospital refused to remove Marlise Munoz from life support because of her pregnancy, even though the 33-year-old woman was brain dead and had previously indicated to her family she did not want to be kept alive artificially. Because Wisconsin’s law mirror’s Texas’ law, the same tragic situation could happen here. AB-861 ensures pregnant women’s advanced medical directives are respected, as they would for any other patient.
“Pregnant women are not second-class citizens and deserve the same rights as everyone else,” said Berceau. “Major medical decisions, as outlined in advanced directives, are very personal decisions that should be left up to individuals and their families, not politicians.”
Taylor authored Assembly Bill 860, which ensures pregnant women, who are alleged to have used drugs, have the right to counsel before being detained. Despite passing a urine test and telling her doctor she stopped using prescription drugs, Alicia Beltran was arrested in July at her home in Jackson, WI, handcuffed, shackled and forced into a holding cell. Beltran was denied a right to counsel, while her fetus was afforded a court-appointed attorney. Beltran was ordered to 78 days at a rehabilitation facility, where she contends she went without adequate health or prenatal care.
“Beltran was originally denied a right to counsel, while her fetus was immediately provided an attorney. Women don’t surrender their legal rights upon becoming pregnant,” said Linda Vanden Heuvel, who represents Beltran in a pending civil case. “Pregnant women accused of using drugs must be represented by counsel before being detained against their will.”
The final piece of legislation in the package, Assembly Joint Resolution 111 affirms, “That pregnant women be afforded all the rights of non-pregnant people.”
“Women should not be denied their rights when they become pregnant,” said Taylor, who previously practiced family law. “This package affirms pregnant women should be afforded equal legal rights.”
The three bills each received bill numbers and were formally introduced into the Assembly this week. While the Assembly is expected to finish its work for the session next week, both authors vowed to reintroduce the bills next session.