UPDATE: Anti-abortion bills make for contentious hearing - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Anti-abortion bills make for contentious public hearing


MADISON (WKOW) -- Two controversial GOP bills that would further restrict access to abortions and birth control brought out strong feelings at the Capitol Wednesday.

Assembly Bill 217 addresses the issue of sex-selection abortions.  It would allow family members of aborted children to sue doctors that performed those abortions based on the sex of those children.

"This is one way of saying to the public that there are limits to abortion," said AB 217 supporter Barbara Sella of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference. 

But opponents say sex-selection abortion doesn't really exist and that, even if it did, doctors shouldn't be targeted.

"If you are being coerced into having a sex-selection abortion, I don't think its your doctor that's coercing you," said Nicole Safar of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.  "Its, as people have testified, its your husband or your partner or your parents."

Meanwhile, Rep. Andre Jacque (R-DePere) pitched AB 216, which would have a large impact throughout the public sector.

"Elective abortions, under this bill, would not be subsidized for public employees," said Rep. Jacque, who's bill would prohibit most public employee health insurance plans from paying for abortions.

However, the bill does keep in place a provision that would allow for those insurance plans to cover abortions cause by rape, incest and if the life of the mother is at risk.

The second provision of AB 216 would allow religious employers to offer health insurance plans that don't cover any type of birth control.

"I think its really a step in the wrong direction," Safar told the Committee.  "Its gonna impact a lot of women in this state.  Its gonna cause a lot more unintended pregnancies, a lot more abortions in this state." 

But the bill's authors and supporters argue current Wisconsin law prevents such insurance policies from even being written, which is an infringement on first amendment rights.

"If the benefit package that is afforded employees does not cover such things as abortion and contraception, I know that going in.  I can either take the job or not take the job," said Julaine Appling, President of Wisconsin Family Action.

Rep. Jacque could not clearly say which religious employers this would affect.  Democrats argue that it is a moot point since the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act spells out such regulation starting August 1st.

Both of the bills will now move on to an executive session of the Assembly Committee on Health. 


MADISON (WKOW) -- A bill that would prohibit most public employees from using their health insurance to pay for elective abortions is causing a heated debate at a hearing in front of the Assembly Committee on Health Wednesday morning.

Rep. Andre Jacque (R-DePere) authored AB 216, which also would exempt some religious employers from providing insurance coverage for contraceptives.  Democrats say AB 216 doesn't define which religious employers would qualify and question the need for the provision, saying it is already covered in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Assembly Committee on Health will also hold a public hearing on Assembly Bill 217, which would allow family members of aborted children to sue doctors who performed the abortion due to the sex of the child.

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann will have more from this hearing on 27 News at 5 and 6.


MADISON (WKOW) – A state legislative panel is set to hear a couple of bills on Wednesday that would make it harder and more expensive to get an abortion in Wisconsin.

The Republican-backed proposals would not allow the use of public money to pay for abortion coverage in public employees' health insurance plans.  It would also relieve certain religious organizations and employers from having to provide coverage for contraceptive pills and ban abortion for gender selection.

Abortion-rights groups in Wisconsin say the new proposals are just the beginning, as anti-abortion activists continue to push for restrictions on abortions and their funding.


Wisconsin is not the only state looking at anti-abortion bills; other states are also seeing an increase in anti-abortion legislation.  North Dakota and Arkansas have enacted some of the nation's most restrictive abortion laws this year.


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