Wisconsin Right to Life is the lead organization and played an instrumental role in the passage of SB 306, the Coercive and Web Cam Prevention Act, by the Wisconsin State Senate. Dramatic debate over a two-day period revealed the commitment of the bill’s author, Sen. Mary Lazich, to ensure passage of this important bill, and the determination of pro-abortion Senators to defeat it.
Thanks to Senator Mary Lazich and the State Senate, Wisconsin took a giant step forward towards protecting women seeking abortions through passage of SB 306, the Coercive and Web Cam Abortion Prevention Act. For far too long, numbers of women have reported that they were coerced into having abortions. SB 306, passed by a 17-15 vote, ensures that an assessment will be made to determine if a woman’s consent to an abortion is voluntary. The bill requires that the abortionist speak to the woman in private to determine if she is being coerced. If she is a potential or actual victim of domestic abuse, the abortionist must give her information on where she can receive help. During debate, opponents of SB 306 skirted the reality of coerced abortion and instead focused on the trumped-up argument that the woman would be subjected to a lengthy “interrogation” without her loved ones there to help her.
In addition, women will be further protected by requiring a physical exam and in person administration of chemical abortion-inducing drugs like RU 486. This requirement would prohibit web cam abortions which are occurring in Iowa and Minnesota from being introduced into local communities in Wisconsin. This portion of the bill sent pro-abortion Senators over the top. Why did the woman need a physical exam? Why must she, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends, return to the abortion facility two weeks after taking abortion-inducing drugs instead of going to her own physician? Interestingly, opponents did not advocate for web cam abortions, just for practices which do not follow FDA and National Abortion Federation guidelines. The bill was described as big government with its boot on the neck of the abortionist, and interfering with the patient/physician relationship. The felony penalty for physicians who do not conduct the in person exam and administer the drugs in person was particularly onerous to opponents, and revealed an interesting sentiment for protecting the abortionist instead of the woman. Ignored were the over 2,200 adverse incidents reported by the FDA since 2000 from use of abortion-inducing drugs, including the deaths of 14 women. RU 486 abortions, administered after a woman has been diagnosed as being pregnant, are different from the morning after pill.
Finally, SB 306 repeals penalties to women who obtain abortions. This repeal removes a conflict in the statues and ensures that once abortions become illegal again in Wisconsin, a woman who obtains an abortion cannot be fined or imprisoned. No objection was made to this provision.
Two amendments introduced by opponents were defeated by a 17-16 vote. The first amendment removed penalties to the physician in the bill. The second excluded rape and incest victims from the determination of coercion.
The debate reached into almost every phase of government, as opponents railed that SB 306 did nothing to create jobs, showed the hypocrisy of Republicans, and didn’t address black unemployment, among other things. SB 306 was debated on the scheduled date of Tuesday, February 21. Opponents of the bill used a procedural move, objection to third reading, to prevent final passage of the bill on that day. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald trumped the delaying tactic by ordering the bill to a third reading on Wednesday, February 22, as the rules allow. Following another hour of intense debate, the measure passed by a 17-15 vote.
Now SB 306 moves to the State Assembly where a public hearing has already occurred. The bill must be passed by March 17 when the legislative session ends in order to reach Governor Walker’s desk and be signed into law.