MADISON (WKOW) -- A Republican lawmaker wants a fetus at any stage of development to be considered a minor child.
But Rep. Andre Jacque (R-DePere) claims it has nothing to do with abortion.
Under current law, if a minor child dies at the hands of a drunk driver or due to medical malpractice, his family can file a civil wrongful death lawsuit against the reponsible party.
Rep. Jacque thinks that should extend to the loss of an unborn child, beginning at fertilization.
"This is being consistent with the Federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act, this is being consistent with our state fetal homicide laws. And its something that several other states already have," said Rep. Jacque.
In Wisconsin and most other states, the intentional murder of an unborn child is treated as a homicide, regardless of the development stage of the fetus.
But Wisconsin would join only about a dozen other states in using the same standard for civil lawsuits.
"This is the exact same language that we already have," said Rep. Jacque.
"These kinds of bills will all end up before the United State's Supreme Court," predicted Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire), who is also an attorney.
Rep. Wachs says he cannot imagine the law standing up to constitutional scrutiny, because it is inconsistent with the viability provisions in Roe v. Wade.
But Rep. Jacque says that shouldn't even be a part of the discussion as it relates to this specific bill.
"For them to try to link it up to the abortion issue, that's not what we're dealing with here," said Rep. Jacque.
"I think that that connection is clear," said Rep. Wachs.
Several pro-choice groups, including the Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice, believe these types of laws are designed to set-up future legislation to outlaw abortion based on redefining the term "minor child" to include zygotes and embryos.
Rep. Jacque has a strong pro-life record, but claims that is not his aim.
He is awaiting a hearing on the bill in the Assembly Committee on Health.
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