Gov. Tony Evers vetoes four anti-abortion bills on June 21, 2019. (Evers’ Facebook)
Shortly after Texas implemented the most extreme anti-abortion bill in the nation, Wisconsin legislative Republicans are moving forward on an extreme bill of their own, which authors Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton) and Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) named the “born alive” bill.
The measure was introduced last session as well and passed the Legislature only to be vetoed by Gov. Tony Evers — a path that will likely be repeated this session. The bill was introduced in January and received a hearing in the state Senate Judiciary & Public Safety committee on Thursday.
The bill requires any health care provider present during an abortion, in the exceedingly rare circumstance that a baby is born, 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. That is redundant as infanticide is already illegal in Wisconsin, and every other state. The bill specifies that the mother cannot be prosecuted. Opponents point out that penalties are already in place and would apply in the cases outlined in the bill.
The bill is similar to a national bill by the same name that former President Donald Trump promoted, attracting widespread, heated attention with his tweet claiming “The Democrat position on abortion is now so extreme that they don’t mind executing babies AFTER birth.”
The Wisconsin bill is one of a half-dozen anti-abortion bills introduced this session in the Legislature.
Given that the situation described in the bill is so rare, and that it won’t become law while Evers is governor, Republicans are using it to focus political attention on a more controversial aspect of the abortion debate, which is abortion during the third trimester, possibly in the hope of forcing Democrats in swing districts to vote on it.
In vetoing the bill last session, along with three other anti-abortion bills, Evers commented, “Everyone should have access to quality, affordable health care, and that includes reproductive health care. Politicians shouldn’t be in the business of interfering with decisions made between patients and their health care providers.”
Registered as lobbying against the bills are the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – WI, End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin: the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, Inc. and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Groups registered as lobbying in favor of the bills are Wisconsin Catholic Conference, Wisconsin Family Action and Wisconsin Right to Life.
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