Wisconsin Senate Prepares to Vote on Abortion and Contraception Restrictions (Updated)


UPDATE, November 11, 10:20 a.m.: The Capital Times reports that the bills “are not scheduled to be taken up by the state Senate Tuesday, as many had anticipated,” though the bills could still be added to the schedule at the last minute. Tuesday is the last day of this year’s legislative session in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved two anti-choice bills Thursday in a 3-2 vote.

SB 201 would ban sex-selective abortions in the state. According to NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin Executive Director Jenni Dye, her organization has not seen evidence of sex-selective abortion in the state, though SB 201′s sponsors claim the practice is prevalent among some populations. “Regardless of whether or not there is evidence, the bill itself is flawed,” Dye told RH Reality Check. “Instead of focusing on gender inequalities in our society, this bill creates a cause of action against abortion providers. What we need to do is address culture pressure, by promoting policies that address gender inequality.”

Many of the same legislators who introduced SB 201 voted for the the repeal of the state’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which made it easier for victims of wage discrimination to sue employers.

SB 202 is a two-pronged piece of legislation that would ban Wisconsin’s insurance program for public employees from covering abortions, and would exempt religious organizations from providing contraceptives under employee-sponsored health insurance plans. The bill includes an amendment that would allow employees of religious organizations to have contraception coverage if it is prescribed for a medical reason other than preventing pregnancy, though the employee must request such coverage from her employer.

One of the bill’s sponsors, state Rep. André Jacque (R-De Pere), told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he is against the state providing insurance coverage for abortion because he doesn’t believe abortion is a legitimate health-care need. “Elective abortions, which I don’t consider to be health care … would not be subsidized for public employees,” he said.

“At a basic level, they are making a claim about religious freedom,” said Dye. “However, in reality we see that this is an attack on basic health care for women.” Dye also noted that covering contraception makes fiscal sense. “We are seeing that access to contraceptives creates cost savings because women are able to prevent unwanted pregnancies. So it’s unclear if there is even an additional monetary cost in covering contraceptives.”

The bills are likely to be voted on by the full state senate Tuesday. But State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) told the Journal Sentinel that there would be “all out hell” next week if senate Republicans take up the bills. The scene could be a repeat of when the bills were passed in June by the assembly. There has been no public hearings on the bills, despite the addition of amendments.

Dye sees the push for this legislation as part of a broader attack on reproductive rights. “It’s part of a steady attempt to roll back where Wisconsin has been with access to reproductive health,” she said. “This is part of a series of attempts to make it more difficult and more costly for women to access basic reproductive health care. It really undermines women’s ability to make meaningful decisions about their health care because if they don’t have access they don’t have options.”

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Follow Teddy Wilson on twitter: @txindyjourno

  • JakobFabian01

    If one really wanted to reduce the incidence of abortion, one would not make contraception harder to obtain by allowing employers to restrict their employees’ health-insurance plans. The Republican legislators in Wisconsin are not so much friends of embryoes as they are enemies of women’s freedom and self-determination.

    Similarly, if one really wanted to reduce government debt, one would not offer tax breaks to the rich. The Republican Party is not so much the party of fiscal responsibility as it is the party of shifting the burden of that responsibility from the rich to the rest of us.

    The Republicans don’t really favor anything that is in the public interest. They want to keep women in their place, and they want to increase the economic power of their rich sponsors. Perhaps the Republicans have no choice but to pursue both goals at once. The rich would never win elections without the help of misogynists, and misogynists would never win elections without the help of the rich.

    • Arekushieru

      Oh. My. God. THIS, just fucking THIS.

      • CJ99

        You’re not the only one who can see the GRRRR in this.

  • http://eastsidehunky.wordpress.com/ EastSideHunky

    Killing female babies is not health care, but I digress since we know liberalism is a mental disease and affects the author and moneyed interests who sponsor this “website”

    • jruwaldt

      Aren’t antis so cute with the way they ignore the facts and go straight to lies and innuendo? Of course, ESH provides no evidence for the claim that people are primarily getting abortions when they’re pregnant with female fetuses, since there is no such evidence. Plus, ESH also ignored that the bill is about contraception as well, which reduces the need for abortion. Of course conservatives are convinced otherwise, because, after all, we know they’re the crazy ones, not liberals.

    • CJ99

      Fanatical propaganda (being what you wrote) is the antithesis of health care. Indeed what others have said is true you “hunky” are nothing more than a common liar.

    • Arekushieru

      No female ‘babies’ are ‘killed’ during abortion. If aborting female fetuses is not health care then neither is pregnancy care, labour or delivery in which you are expecting a girl. OOOPPPS! I am not going to reduce myself to ableist insults, something that says more about YOUR side than the side of liberals. Moneyed interests? Sorry to disappoint, but the OB/GYNS that perform abortions? Would make FAR more money in pregnancy care and delivering babies. OOOPS.