A bill banning the sale of fetal tissue collected from abortions appears to have stalled in the Legislature, making it unlikely it will pass this year after the Assembly wrapped up its session last week.
The legislation from state Representative Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) would have banned the sale or transfer of tissue collected during abortion procedures. Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has said none of its clinics even collect tissue for research purposes, and critics warned the bill could have halted life-saving research being done in the state that relies on those samples.
While the bill had the backing of many Republicans in the Assembly and Senate, Assembly leadership did not schedule it for a vote because of concerns it did not have enough votes to actually pass. Jacque notes it had 43 co-sponsors in the Assembly, and he believes the remaining seven votes that were needed did exist in the chamber. “I don’t know if everybody in the caucus is comfortable with every piece of legislation that we take up, but I certainly think that the votes were there,” he argues. “As far as getting to a comfort level, I don’t know to what extent that’s always possible.”
The De Pere has proposed similar legislation in previous sessions, but the latest version piccked up steam last summer after the release of secretly recorded videos that appeared to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue with undercover buyers, who were actually from an anti-abortion group. Such sales are a violation of federal law. Planned Parenthood has argued the videos were heavily edited and that its clinics to do not sell fetal tissue. Those videos have since been discredited.
Despite the proposal falling short this session, Jacque says he plans to continue fighting for it when the Legislature returns next year. “My understanding is that leadership is committed to the issue next session, and certainly I’m not giving up,” he says.