Abortion bills pass Senate and Assembly, but likely won’t become law

Kate Steinhorst, Staff Writer

A Democratic state senator said she fears four Senate bills on abortion that were authored by Republicans would make Wisconsin “the northern Texas on abortion laws,” if they are not vetoed by Gov. Tony Evers.

In a press release, Sen. Kelda Roys of Madison said: “Another day in the Senate, another round of dangerous bills aimed at restricting abortion, forcing false words out of doctors’ mouths and controlling people’s bodies. 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.”

On Oct. 20, without a single vote from the Democrats, the Senate passed a series of bills to restrict abortion. The first would defund abortion providers by disabling them from current access to Medicaid, unless situations of rape, incest or a threat to the mother’s life are present (SB 503). The second bans abortions based on sex or race, and requires doctors to inform the parents about congenital conditions (SB 592). The third requires doctors to inform every woman seeking an abortion that she can change her mind after the first dose of drugs during the chemical abortion process (SB 591). The fourth bans abortions based on the unborn child’s sex, race or origin (SB 593). Three of these proposals Evers vetoed last legislative session.

Earlier Wednesday, the Republican-controlled Assembly also passed the anti-abortion bills, sending them on to the governor for his signature.

Currently, Wisconsin laws state that a woman must have a counseling appointment before an abortion is permitted and then wait 24 hours between the appointment and the procedure itself. It is illegal to go through with the procedure after 21 weeks.

Gallup ran a poll on American’s views on abortion in 2020. Out of U.S adults, 48% were pro-choice and 46% were pro-life. The Republican party stood 29% choice and 68% life. The Democratic party stood 72% choice and 24% life. The most common view on abortion for Americans is that it should be legal only under certain conditions (50%) with the extreme views of being legal never (20%) or always (29%) being outliers.

The Advance-Titan contacted Sen. Dan Feyen, a Republican who represents Oshkosh and voted for all four bills, for comment. However, his office responded that he had no interest in making a comment at this time.

But State Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said: “These bills are all about Republican politics and about appeasing anti-abortion activists whose goal is making all abortions illegal in Wisconsin. Legislative Republicans know these proposals won’t become law, but they are more focused on their own 2022 electoral politics than on enacting policies that would prevent unwanted pregnancies or supporting healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

“Like the vast majority of Wisconsinites, I support people having access to safe, legal, judgment free abortion when they make that personal decision,” Hintz said. “I strongly oppose Republicans’ efforts to limit access to compassionate, medically accurate healthcare, and will vote against these dangerous bills when they come before the Assembly.”

However, State Rep. Chuck Wichgers, R-Muskego, disagreed. He said he strongly supports requiring women seeking medical abortions be informed of the ability of physicians to reverse the effects of mifepristone and receive materials informing them of the possibility of continuing a pregnancy after ingesting an abortion-inducing drug such as mifepristone.

“The medical principle of informed consent demands that abortion-bound women be informed, orally and in writing, that the effects of mifepristone can be reversed by a large influx of progesterone into her system within 72 hours of ingestion,” he said. “The procedure works and saves lives. It is not a lie as Democrats contend.”

UW Oshkosh students have varying opinions on the bills.

Jack Peterson, president of Oshkosh College Republicans, said: “One proposal in the package would prohibit abortion based on the unborn child’s sex, race or national origin. This proposal will hopefully limit abortions based on discrimination. Gov. Evers has vetoed abortion bills before and it would be a shame to see him do this again with the newly proposed bills.”

Keegan Little, president of Oshkosh College Democrats, said: “College Democrats believe that abortion is healthcare and healthcare is a human right. This unconstitutional attack on reproductive rights is a frightening example of the Wisconsin GOP’s priorities. We are glad that we have a Democratic governor who will veto these bills. If Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court then abortions would be illegal in Wisconsin. This is why the Wisconsin legislature must pass the RESPECT Act which ensures the right to have an abortion in Wisconsin.”

On Oct. 23, a survey on political stances around these bills was sent to students scheduled to graduate from UWO in 2024. About 55%, or 13 of the 23 who responded to date, said the proposals should not become law.

But some disagreed. One student wrote: “I understand not everyone has the perfect situation, but it’s still someone’s life. They could cure cancer, create world peace… the possibilities are endless.”

The student said abortion takes away a person’s right to experience a moment of happiness or joy. “Being happy are the moments in life that make life worth living. That’s exactly what abortion does, takes away these moments away from someone.”

Evers will likely veto the bills.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include Wichgers’ comments and that the Assembly also passed the bills