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The Wisconsin Senate plans to take up its so-called “born alive” bill on the topic of late-term abortions Tuesday. GOP gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Kleefisch has also said she would push a Texas-style abortion ban after 6 weeks of pregnancy in the state.
Such extreme state policies and laws are the reason U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) authored the Women’s Health Protection Act with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). The bill, which would guarantee equal access to abortion everywhere in the United States, passed the House late Friday on a 218-211 vote.
“With passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act in the House, we are sending a clear message that every woman in America, regardless of where she lives, deserves the freedom to make her own, personal decisions about her health care, her body and her family,” said Baldwin in a release. “When Roe v. Wade is under attack, as it is, millions of people are at risk of losing the freedom to make their own health care decisions, and women’s health is threatened.”
Baldwin noted that her legislation also protects the rights of health care workers to deliver abortion services free from medically unnecessary restrictions and from interference in the provider-patient relationship.
“Our legislation creates a safeguard against the medically unnecessary bans and restrictions that are being placed on constitutionally-protected, reproductive health care,” Baldwin added. “We must pass our legislation to protect the provider-patient relationship; protect the health care professionals that provide care, and protect the freedom, and right, of women to access this care without interference from politicians.”
Center for Reproductive Rights CEO Nancy Northup, whose group has been fighting for full reproductive health care access worldwide for more than three decades, described the current situation of abortion rights as dire during a news conference in June. She said there are more than 500 state bills designed to curtail or eliminate abortion rights, often even in cases of rape or incest. Four states have passed bans on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. And the U.S. Supreme Court allowed that restrictive law to take effect in Texas, which has amounted to a ban on most abortions in the state.
“The state legislative attacks on abortion are coming and getting more extreme,” said Northup. “I have never been as alarmed as I am today about the crumbling state of legal protection for abortion access.”
Baldwin’s bill has 48 cosponsors in the Senate — not enough to get past a filibuster.
The bill that is on the schedule for Tuesday’s state Senate session requires any health care provider present during an abortion — in the exceedingly rare circumstance that the abortion results in a live birth — to take the same measures that would be taken during any birth to preserve the child’s life. Any violation is a felony, carrying a fine of up to $10,000, up to six years imprisonment or both. Intentionally causing the death of a child after an abortion, which bill proponents describe as “born alive,” carries the same penalties as first-degree intentional homicide. Critics of the bill point out that it is redundant as infanticide is already illegal in Wisconsin and every other state. Gov. Tony Evers vetoed such a bill last year and is expected to veto the current bill should it reach his desk.
Baldwin noted that from Roe v. Wade in 1973 to Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016, “the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized abortion as a constitutional right.”
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