GOP passes forced ultrasound bill
Additional unprecedented attacks on birth control move forward
MADISON – Yesterday, the State Assembly continued to ignore the dismal economic conditions in Wisconsin, choosing instead to focus on extreme social issues, passing three bills that infringe on a woman’s ability to access birth control and abortion services. Despite hours of heartfelt debate from Assembly Democrats, Republicans rejected all efforts to improve the bills to make them more humane.
On a party-line vote, Republicans passed Assembly Bills 216 and 217 as well as Senate Bill 206. The bills substantially gut Wisconsin’s contraceptive equity law, which requires insurers to cover birth control. The bills also remove insurance coverage of abortion services from public employees, even if the health of the mother is in danger. Additionally, for the first time in Wisconsin history, a woman will be forced to have a medically unnecessary ultrasound before choosing to end her pregnancy. One of the bills would require a physician performing an abortion to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. No similar state requirement is imposed on any other medical procedure.
“Last night, many brave Assembly women shared their compelling and deeply personal stories on the floor of the State Assembly. These stories included a medical privacy violation, the loss of loved ones, the loss of pregnancies and even a sexual assault,” said Taylor (D-Madison). “We shared our stories because we hoped that if we put a human face on the negative impact these bad public policies will have on women throughout Wisconsin, perhaps our Republican colleagues would show compassion and either limit or stop these bad bills from moving forward. We were unfortunately wrong.”
During the course of the debate, Republicans rejected 19 amendments to the three bills. These amendments included protecting a woman’s private medical records, removing a requirement that would force ultrasounds upon rape and incest victims who don’t report the attack, which is estimated to be approximately 81 percent of victims. They even rebuked an effort to require a medical professional to perform and read the mandated ultrasound.
“These bills had nothing to do with women’s health, but rather inserting politicians into personal, private health care decisions,” said Taylor. “Rather than addressing Wisconsin’s bottom of the barrel jobs status, Republican legislators are fixated on doing everything in their power to make abortion and birth control less accessible and ultimately illegal. Yesterday was a sad day for Wisconsin women.”
In a highly unusual move, the forced ultrasound bill was fast-tracked and brought to the Assembly floor without a vote from the Assembly Health Committee, on which Rep. Taylor is a member. Governor Walker indicated he will sign SB-206 into law after it passed the Senate on Wednesday and the Assembly on Thursday. Assembly Bills 216 and 217 are pending in the State Senate.
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