UPDATE: Wis. Senate unlikely to vote on abortion bills

UPDATED Monday, December 30, 2013 --- 11:59 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- It appears unlikely the Wisconsin state Senate will vote next year on a pair of anti-abortion bills that were originally scheduled to be taken up in November.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he didn't know if there is enough support among Republicans to bring the bills back. He tells The Associated Press in an interview that Republicans feel like they are "spinning our wheels" by passing abortion bills that get tied up in court.

One of the pending bills would prohibit public workers' health insurance plans from covering abortions and exempt religious organizations from providing insurance coverage for contraceptives. The other would ban abortions based on whether the fetus is male or female, also known as sex selection.

The Assembly passed both bills in June.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Friday, November 8, 2013 --- 12:25 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republicans who control the Wisconsin state Senate are not taking up a pair of anti-abortion bills next week after a Democratic senator promised "all out hell" if they did.

The tentative agenda for Tuesday's Senate session does not include the bills. A spokesman for Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Friday the bills will not come up on Tuesday but may next year.

Fitzgerald spokesman Dan Romportl says Republicans wanted to end the year on a non-controversial note. Tuesday is the Senate's last day in session this year.

Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach promised Thursday that if the bills were debated, there would be "all out hell" in opposition. He was most displeased with one that would prohibit public workers' health insurance plans from covering abortions.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, November 7, 2013 --- 6:17 p.m.

Senator Jon Erpenbach (D) says that the amendment in the abortion bill could force women to pay for birth control out of pocket.

The measure would allow employers to chose if they want to cover the cost of contraceptives or not.

Erpenbach says the measure is overstepping into people's personal lives, and that it goes against the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans disagree, Senator Mary Lazich (R) says it was cleared by the legislative council.

She also says that the amendment is protecting the rights of the employers.

She says an employer should not have to provide birth control or pay for abortions if they do not believe in them.

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UPDATED Thursday, November 7, 2013 --- 10:24 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Democratic state senator is promising "all out hell" when the Senate debates a pair of anti-abortion bills as expected on Tuesday.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach, of Middleton, made the comment Thursday after the Senate Health Committee voted 3-2 along party lines on a pair of abortion-related measures.

Erpenbach most strongly objected to one proposal that would disallow health insurance plans for public employees to cover contraceptives prescribed to prevent pregnancies. They would still be allowed for other uses.

Erpenbach says that gives employers too much weight in the medical decisions of its employees.

But Julaine Appling, president of anti-abortion group Wisconsin Family Action, says the duty of whether to cover contraceptives or not rests with insurance companies. She says Erpenbach is just using a stall tactic to block the bill.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, November 7, 2013 --- 5:22 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Two Republican-sponsored anti-abortion bills are moving forward in the state Senate and could be passed next week.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee scheduled a vote Thursday on the measures that previously passed the Assembly. The full Senate could take the bills up as soon as Tuesday, its last scheduled day to be in session this year.

One bill would ban abortions based on the sex of the fetus. Another would prohibit the state health insurance from covering abortions as well as exempt religious organizations from providing insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Democratic opponents accuse Republicans of using the proposals to dictate women's medical care and score points with the conservative base. Gov. Scott Walker supports both bills.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, June 13, 2013 --- 4:34 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Assembly has approved a bill that would outlaw abortions based on the fetus' sex.

Rep. Steve Kestell, an Elkhart Lake Republican, wrote the bill. It prohibits anyone from knowingly performing a sex-selective abortion.

The measure also would enable the fetus' mother, father or grandparent to sue the abortion provider for emotional and psychological harm and seek an injunction prohibiting the provider from performing another sex-selective abortion. The court proceedings would be secret unless the plaintiffs specify they could be held in open court.

The Assembly passed the measure 58-39 on Thursday despite minority Democrats' contention that sex-selective abortions aren't a problem in Wisconsin. The bill goes to the state Senate.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, June 13, 2013 --- 3:40 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a bill that would make public workers' abortions more expensive and allow religious organizations to refuse insurance coverage for contraceptives.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Andre Jacque, a De Pere Republican, would prohibit using public money to cover abortions in public employees' health insurance plans. Anti-abortion group Wisconsin Right to Life says 18 other states already ban insurance coverage for abortions for public employees.

The bill also would exempt religious organizations and employers' insurers from requirements in current state law that mandate coverage must include contraceptives.

The chamber approved the measure Wednesday on a 58-39 vote despite minority Democrats' complaints that Republicans were legislating women's reproductive choices when they should be working to improve Wisconsin's economy.

The proposal goes next to the state Senate.

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UPDATED Thursday, June 13, 2013 --- 7:36 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Assembly is set to pass a trio of Republican bills designed to discourage women from obtaining abortions and making the procedures more difficult to obtain.

One bill would require women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound. The technician would have to display an image of the fetus as well as describe its size, any visible internal organs or external features. The state Senate passed the measure Wednesday.
Another bill would prohibit the use of public money to cover abortions in public employees' health insurance plans and exempt religious organizations from having to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives.

The third bill would prohibit abortions based solely on whether the fetus is male or female.

The Assembly is expected to vote on all three proposals Thursday.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press
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UPDATED Wednesday, June 12, 2013--6p.m.

MADISON--The State Senate today voted along party lines to pass a bill that would require a woman thinking about having an abortion to first have an ultrasound.

It now heads to the State Assembly, where Democrats said they expect a vibrant discussion on the topic. "Oh you're going to see a great deal of debate on this bill," said State Rep. Peter Barca, the Assembly minority leader. "Because there was nine hours of testimony that our health committee went through, we've heard from people throughout this state who are absolutely enraged."

Asked about whether Assembly members might repeat the behavior of their Senate colleagues, Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington, said he thinks they can keep it respectful. "You'll notice from the way that we try to operate, as much as possible, we might disagree on the policies on occasion, but I certainly hope we can do it in a civil manner," he said.

Speaker Vos also said he doesn't anticipate any changes to the bill. "We had always intended to bring it up tomorrow, along with several other pieces of legislation that protect human life and it's still my intention today," he said.

This is one of three bills related to abortion that is on the Assembly's docket for Thursday. "I think one of the bills that they're introducing is going to be definitely challenged in court," said State Rep. Sandy Pasch, D-Shorewood. "I think a lot of these have the potential to be challenged in court."

If it passes, the governor has said he will sign the bill.

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UPDATED Wednesday, June 12, 2013 --- 8:51 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republicans abruptly shut off debate before a dramatic vote approving a bill that requires women seeking an abortion first have an ultrasound performed.

The bill passed Wednesday as Democratic senators tried in vain to be recognized to speak. Republican Senate President Mike Ellis repeatedly banged his gavel and yelled that they were out of order.

The bill passed 17-15 with all Republicans in support and Democrats against.

Only two senators were able to speak Wednesday before Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald cut off debate after about 30 minutes.

Democratic Sen. Kathleen Vinehout says the bill's intent is to close down clinics that provide abortions in Wisconsin.

Bill sponsor Republican Sen. Mary Lazich gave an impassioned defense of the measure, saying it was a small step that would protect women.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, June 12, 2013 --- 8:44 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Senate has passed a bill requiring women seeking an abortion to first have an ultrasound performed.

The bill passed Wednesday after Democrats on Tuesday used a procedural move to delay the vote. The Assembly plans to take it up on Thursday and Gov. Scott Walker has said he will sign it.

Republican supporters say the requirement is necessary so women seeking an abortion will make an informed decision. But Democratic opponents say the requirement is intrusive and unnecessary.

The bill passed with all Republicans in support and all Democrats opposed.

The bill requires that an ultrasound technician display the image on an ultrasound, but the pregnant woman does not have to view it and it wouldn't apply in cases of rape, incest or an emergency.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, June 11, 2013 --- 3:25 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Senate Democrats have used a procedural move to delay a final vote on passing a bill that would require physicians to provide or arrange an ultrasound for women seeking abortions.

Democrats opposed the measure during debate Tuesday. The bill will return to the Republican-controlled Senate the next time it is in session, likely next week.

The measure is sponsored by Republican Sen. Mary Lazich. It would require doctors to perform or arrange for the ultrasound, except in a medical emergency or cases where the pregnancy is caused by sexual assault or incest.

Doctors would have to show the ultrasound image to the woman and provide a thorough description of the fetus' features.

The Assembly is scheduled to take up the bill on Thursday.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, June 11, 2013 --- 2:37 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he will sign a bill requiring physicians to perform or arrange ultrasounds for women seeking abortions if the Legislature passes it.

The Senate was expected to vote on the bill Tuesday. It would then go to the Assembly.

The bill would require doctors to show the ultrasound image to the woman and describe the fetus' features.

Walker says he supports the bill and believes "most people think ultrasounds are just fine."

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin has said it would close its abortion facility in Appleton if the bill became law. Another provision requires physicians to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where an abortion would be performed. Planned Parenthood said its doctors in Appleton can't meet that requirement.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, June 11, 2013 --- 1:34 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Senate is debating a bill that would require physicians to provide or arrange an ultrasound for women seeking abortions.

The legislation sponsored by Republican Sen. Mary Lazich would require physicians to perform or arrange for the ultrasound, except in a medical emergency or cases where the pregnancy is caused by sexual assault or incest. Physicians would have to show the ultrasound image to the woman and provide a thorough description of the fetus' features.

It also would require that physicians performing abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where the abortion would be performed.

The Senate is expected to vote on the measure Tuesday, a week after it was formally introduced and publicly discussed at Capitol hearings.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, June 11, 2013 --- 5:40 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a bill that would require physicians to provide or arrange an ultrasound for women seeking abortions.

The legislation sponsored by Republican Sen. Mary Lazich would require physicians to perform or arrange for an ultrasound, except in a medical emergency or cases where the pregnancy is caused by sexual assault or incest. Physicians would have to show the ultrasound image to the woman and provide a thorough description of the fetus' features.

It also would require that physicians performing abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where the abortion would be performed.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says a companion bill could be also taken up Thursday in the Assembly, along with two other abortion-related bills.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, June 10, 2013 --- 11:38 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A bill that would require doctors to provide or arrange an ultrasound for women seeking abortions has advanced out of a Senate committee.

The legislation sponsored by Republican Sen. Mary Lazich of New Berlin would require physicians to perform or arrange for an ultrasound, except in a medical emergency or cases where the pregnancy is caused by sexual assault or incest. Doctors would have to show the ultrasound image to the woman and provide a thorough description of the fetus' features.

Lazich says ultrasounds are common medical procedures, and women should be given full information about their pregnancy. But critics say the mandate would interfere in physicians' medical decisions.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed the measure Monday on a partisan 3-2 vote.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, June 5, 2013 --- 5:34 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A state legislative committee has approved two Republican-backed bills that would make it harder and more expensive to get an abortion in Wisconsin.

One proposal from Rep. Andre Jacque would exempt certain religious organizations and employers from having to provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives and prohibit the use of public money to pay for abortion coverage in public employees' health insurance plans.

The other proposal from Rep. Steve Kestell would ban abortion for gender selection.

Critics said the proposals are just "the tip of the iceberg" as anti-abortion groups continue to push for restrictions. But proponents argued the state shouldn't pay for things that violate some people's moral values.

Both measured passed the Assembly Health Committee on party line votes Wednesday.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, June 5, 2013 --- 11:32 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Democrats say a Republican-backed bill that would require a woman seeking an abortion in Wisconsin to have the option of seeing her unborn child via ultrasound is unnecessary.

Under the legislation from Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, physicians would have to arrange for an ultrasound before performing an abortion and provide a thorough description of the image and fetus' features.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, said at a Wednesday hearing that the bill is contradictory because it would require physicians to show the ultrasound image, while also specifying that women can choose not to look at the picture.

Lazich says ultrasounds are a common medical procedure and requiring them would help women make better decisions about abortion.

Abortion rights groups and anti-abortion groups are also expected to speak on the proposal.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday June 5, 2013 --- 5:43 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Republican-backed bill that would require a woman seeking an abortion in Wisconsin to see her unborn child via ultrasound is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday.

Under the legislation from Sen. Mary Lazich, physicians would have to arrange for an ultrasound before performing an abortion and provide a thorough description of the image and visible features of the fetus. Physicians would have to inform the mother about the procedure at least 24 hours before the abortion.

Several states started adopting ultrasound requirements as part of their abortion service laws since the mid-1990s.

Twelve states require relevant verbal counseling or written materials to include access information for ultrasound services. Twenty-one other states have regulatory ultrasound provisions -- of varying degrees -- mandated for abortion providers.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday June 5, 2013 --- 5:32 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A state legislative committee is scheduled to vote Wednesday on two Republican-backed bills that would make it harder and more expensive to get an abortion in Wisconsin.

One proposal from Rep. Andre Jacque would exempt certain religious organizations and employers from having to provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives and prohibit the use of public money to pay for abortion coverage in public employees' health insurance plans.

The other proposal from Rep. Steve Kestell would ban abortion for gender selection.

Both measures were the subjects of a heated debate in the Assembly Health Committee last week. Critics warn that they are just "the tip of the iceberg" as anti-abortion groups continue to push for restrictions.

But proponents say the state shouldn't pay for things that violate some people's moral values.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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Posted Sunday, May 26, 2013 --- 6:49 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republican lawmakers are circulating several bills that would make it harder and more expensive to get an abortion in Wisconsin.

The measures would prohibit the use of public money to pay for abortion coverage in public employees' health insurance plans, relieve certain religious organizations and employers from having to provide coverage for contraceptive pills, ban abortion for gender selection and require doctors to properly dispose of fetal remains.

Lawmakers are seeking sponsors for the three bills. They come as the state Legislature is already considering legislation banning the sale of fetal tissue or its use in medical research and allowing parents to sue if their unborn child died as a result of someone's wrongdoing.

Abortion-rights groups say decisions about abortion and contraception should be left up to women.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


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