November 21, 2014

Assembly approves abortion restrictions

Following a contentious debate that stretched for over two hours, the Assembly on Thursday signed off on legislation that makes a number of changes to state laws regarding abortions. Democrats offered nearly a dozen amendments to the bill, each of which was tabled by majority Republicans before the bill passed on a 60-33 vote.

Among the changes in the bill is a requirement that doctors speak alone with women seeking an abortion to make sure they are not being coerced. The legislation requires doctors to ask any person with the woman, such as a parent, spouse, or boyfriend, to leave the room before they can verify voluntary consent to the procedure.

Whitefish Bay Democrat Sandy Pasch says it treats women like they are unable to make their own decisions. She says it “infantilizes women” by allowing a physician to decide who else can be in the room at the time they make what is often a very difficult decision.

State Representative JoCasta Zamarippa (D-Milwaukee) blasted a provision that requires women to receive a follow-up visit with the doctor who performed the abortion, since only four facilities in the state offer the procedure. She says it’s another attempt to make safe and legal abortion care “less accessible to women in Wisconsin.”

State Representative Michelle Litjens (R-Oshkosh), the author of the bill, defended the changes as an effort to “protect and respect women” so they can make a decision outside of the presence of someone who may be forcing them to have an abortion.

The bill now heads to Governor Walker.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:06)