Making Wisconsin ‘Texas of the North’ on abortion

By: - October 20, 2021 3:04 pm

Pro Choice Texas | Lorie Shaull CC BY-SA 2.0

Wednesday, after the state Senate passed several bills to make it more difficult to get an abortion in Wisconsin, Sen. Kelda Roys put out a release titled: “GOP Pushes for Wisconsin to become the Texas of the North.”

During the session, the following bills passed along partisan lines, despite versions of these bills having been vetoed last session by Gov. Tony Evers, who is expected to veto them again.

SB 503: Barring the state from certifying a clinic that provides abortion services under the Medicaid assistance program, cutting funds for abortion providers.

SB 592: Requiring that physicians provide information mandated by the Legislature to patients who receive findings of fetal abnormalities.

SB 593: Banning and punishing abortions chosen based on sex, race or disability of the fetus.

SB 591: Requiring a physician to tell a woman planning on a medication abortion that “the ingestion of the first drug in the abortion-inducing drug regimen may not result in an immediate abortion and that, if the woman changes her mind after ingesting the first drug, the woman may be able to continue the pregnancy…”

Some Democrats have labeled SB 591 as potentially the worst of the abortion bills currently proposed because it requires physicians to give patients what the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in written testimony characterized as “gross interference in the physician-patient relationship” based on misinformation.

In testimony against the bill, the Wisconsin section of ACOG stated that “If this bill becomes law physicians would be required to mislead patients into believing that evidence-based treatment is available to ‘reverse’  the effects of mifepristone [the first of the two medications used]. … Legislative mandates based on unproven, unethical research are dangerous to women’s health. Politicians should never mandate treatments or require that physicians tell patients inaccurate information. Requiring doctors to offer a medical therapy that lacks the requisite evidence base is unethical at best and harmful at worst. We cannot allow political interference to compromise the care and safety of our patients.”

In her floor speech, Roys highlighted bills that she wished the Senate was voting to approve instead, including the RESPECT Act introduced Tuesday that protects abortion care in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned. She also mentioned a bill Democrats introduced recently, the Birth Equity Act, which is designed to reduce Wisconsin’s worse disparities in the nation on Black infant and maternal mortality rates. “Republicans have spurned” them all, she noted.

“There are so many bills that could actually improve the health and lives of women and babies in our state, and that would reduce the need for abortion — but the GOP is blocking them,” said Roys. “People don’t need bills that force doctors to lie to patients, what they need is paid family leave, Medicaid expansion, affordable childcare, birthing and postpartum care options, good transit, livable wages, clean air and water and autonomy over their bodies.”

Sen. Melissa Agard (D-Madison) also responded to Senate passage of the abortion bills sounding a common refrain Democrats have been repeating: “Abortion is health care.”

She said the reason these bills are advancing, rather than health care measures that polling shows are more popular with Wisconsinites such as expanding BadgerCare, is due to gerrymandering. Safe districts have given more power to the GOP than the population they represent, which has led to far-right bills, she said.

“Everyone in our state needs to understand why these bills are being brought forward,” Agard said in a statement. “Partisan gerrymandering has led to extreme districts that elect extreme politicians who support extreme policies. The gerrymandered majority in Wisconsin does not reflect the will of the people who overwhelming believe legal abortion must be available in Wisconsin. Until legislative districts are un-rigged, we will continue to see an agenda that is out of touch with what ordinary Wisconsinites are asking for.”

The Assembly will be taking up a number of abortion-related bills when it meets next week.



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Melanie Conklin
Melanie Conklin

Melanie Conklin was the Wisconsin Examiner's founding Deputy Editor, serving from its launch July 1, 2019, until Feb. 1, 2022. She is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications before returning to journalism at the Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.