Republicans look to pass Texas-style abortion ban in Wisconsin
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin is the latest state to introduce a Texas-style abortion ban that would prohibit abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, a timeframe where many people don't even know they are pregnant.
Republican lawmakers are looking to pass a nearly identical bill enacted in Texas last year that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected.
A handful of states are considering similar proposals which are considered to be one of the strictest abortion bans in the country.
The bill received its first public hearing Tuesday where supporters said they hope it would produce the same results seen in Texas, claiming the law has already saved over 10,000 lives since September.
"We hope that when the woman hears that heartbeat she understands the humanity of that child," said Gracie Skogman, legislative director for Wisconsin Right to Life. "Abortion providers only provide one option, but we want to create a movement to empower women to know they have more options."
Under the proposal, there is a medical exemption which Skogman said is to "ensure the law could stand up in court." The bill does not include exceptions for pregnancies that result in rape or incest.
Pro-Life Wisconsin testified they support the concept of the abortion ban, but oppose the legislation because it includes a medical exemption.
"We fear the exception will allow a physician to make a credible argument that, in a medical emergency, his or her performance of a direct abortion after detected fetal heartbeat is legally permissible," said Matt Sande, Pro-Life Wisconsin. "Abortionists are quite adept at exploiting loopholes in otherwise pro-life legislation."
Sande asked Republicans to add an amendment to the bill to remove references to "medical emergencies."
State Sen. Julian Bradley (R-Franklin) and Rep. Donna Rozar (R-Marshfield) authored the bill which also seeks to reward individuals who sue abortion providers performing the procedure.
Similar to Texas, the Wisconsin bill would give residents the power to enforce the law. If successful through litigation, residents could receive up to $10,000. If found guilty, abortion providers could face jail time, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
Mike Murray, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, said the bill would be an attack on women's rights and medical providers who are trying to do their job.
"They would face financial ruin for simply doing their jobs and providing people with the health care they need," said Murray. "Texas gives us a glimpse of what could happen in Wisconsin, where people have been forced to carry pregnancies against their will or have been forced to travel out of state at great personal financial costs."
Last month, Governor Tony Evers signaled he would veto the bill, calling it a non-starter.
"I've always believed women have the right to make those decisions themselves," Evers said. "That's not something Legislatures in Texas or Wisconsin should mess with."
In December, Evers vetoed GOP bills that would have restricted abortion access and punished doctors if they didn't provide medical assistance to babies that survived abortions.
Murray said his biggest concern is the outcome of the midterm elections and whether or not Wisconsin will elect a Republican governor.
Evers is seeking a second term, and his GOP opponents have signaled support for abortion ban legislation.
"When people go vote this coming November that they keep in mind their vote is going to have a huge impact about whether or not abortion and other forms of reproductive health are actually accessible."