Wisconsin Public Radio

GOP Bill Targets Race, Sex-Based Abortions

Doctors punished for abortions done solely because of race, ancestry, sex, conditions like Down syndrome.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Apr 15th, 2019 10:44 am
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Wisconsin State Capitol. Photo by Dave Reid.

Wisconsin State Capitol. Photo by Dave Reid.

After warning Democrats earlier this year to back off making changes to Wisconsin abortion laws, Republicans are now proposing their own.

Sen. Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point, and Rep. Barbara Dittrich, R-Oconomowoc, are seeking support from colleagues for a bill that would prevent abortions from being performed solely because of race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex or fetal anomaly like Down syndrome.

“This legislation is an essential step to solidify in statute that all unborn lives are to be treated equally,” Testin said. “Deciding who is deserving of being brought into the world based on their inherited characteristics is pure discrimination to say the least.”

So-called abortion discrimination laws are being considered around the country. Kentucky lawmakers passed such a bill last month, and the American Civil Liberties Union is suing.

Texas lawmakers are considering a similar bill supported by groups which oppose abortion.

A Wisconsin Democrat who opposes the bill calls it a distraction from the state budget.

Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, also said the Republicans pushing it “want to make abortion illegal in every circumstance and will stop at nothing in attempting to do so.”

Testin’s bill would punish doctors, not women. And there would be only civil penalties, not criminal.

The proposal would allow a pregnant woman, her partner, or her parents to file a civil suit against a doctor who performs or attempts an abortion on a patient they know is having the procedure for discriminatory reasons.

Additionally it would require the Medical Examining Board to investigate any physician who violates provisions in the bill.

Under current law, women seeking an abortion must give written consent and wait 24 hours for the procedure.

Testin and Dittrich say they plan to formally introduce the bill later this week.

An October 2018 poll from Marquette University Law School found 56 percent of those surveyed said abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Listen to the WPR report here.

Wisconsin Republicans Seek Ban On Sex, Race-Based Abortions was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

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