The state Senate Health Committee has signed-off on a controversial bill banning abortions after 20 weeks into a pregnancy. The panel approved the measure on a 3-2 party line vote, despite objections from state Senator Jon Erpenbach.
The Middleton Democrat pushed for an amendment that would have made clarifications in the law that doctors must also consider the life of a mother during a medical emergency, arguing “it is very clear on this legislation that it is all about the fetus. And the protections we have in law, when it comes to the life of the mother, are at great risk.”
Republican Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa), who chairs the committee, said that’s open to interpretation though, and she called for the committee to approve the measure as written. It passed through the committee without any amendments.
Backers of the legislation argue it is needed to prevent fetuses from feeling pain, which they argue is possible after 20 weeks of gestation. Critics, which include a long list of medical professionals who testified at a Capitol hearing earlier this week, counter that it’s actually not possible for a fetus to feel pain until after 27 weeks into a pregnancy.
The full state Senate is expected to debate and vote on the bill next Tuesday. Even if it passes in that chamber, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said Wednesday that he does not know when his members could take up the measure, and they are waiting to see what passes out of the Senate before making a decision on whether to bring it to the floor.