By Dave Andrusko
Dramatic debate over a two-day period revealed the commitment of the bill’s author, State Sen. Mary Lazich, to ensure passage of this important bill and the determination of pro-abortion Senators to defeat SB 306.
Yesterday opponents of the bill used a procedural move (objection to third reading) to prevent final passage of the bill on that day. However Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald trumped the delaying tactic by ordering the bill to a third reading today, as the rules allow. Following another hour of intense debate, the measure passed by a 17-15 vote.
“For far too long, numbers of women have reported that they were coerced into having abortions,” said Barbara Lyons, Executive Director of Wisconsin Right to Life. SB 306 “ensures that an assessment will be made to determine if a woman’s consent to an abortion is voluntary.”
The bill requires that the abortionist speak to the woman in private to determine if she is being coerced. If she is a potential or actual victim of domestic abuse, the abortionist must give her information about where she can receive help.
During debate, opponents of SB 306 skirted the reality of coerced abortion and instead focused on the trumped-up argument that the woman would be subjected to a lengthy “interrogation” without her loved ones there to help her.
SB 306 has a second component, meant to address the growing menace of so-called “webcam abortions. ” Rather than meeting the abortionist in person, a pregnant woman converses with him long-distance via webcam before receiving the two drugs that make up the RU486 abortion technique.
“Women will be further protected by requiring a physical exam and in- person administration of chemical abortion-inducing drugs like RU 486,” Lyons explained. This requirement would prohibit webcam abortions which are occurring in Iowa and Minnesota from being introduced into local communities in Wisconsin.
Lyons explained that opponents did not overtly advocate for webcam abortions, just for practices which do not follow FDA and National Abortion Federation guidelines. Rather than debate the issue of safety, the bill was described as big government with its boot on the neck of the abortionist, “and interfering with the patient/physician relationship.”
The felony penalty for abortionists who do not conduct the in-person exam and administer the drugs in person was a source of particular irritation to opponents, and revealed an interesting preference for protecting the abortionist instead of the woman. Ignored were the over 2,200 adverse incidents reported by the FDA since 2000 from use of abortion-inducing drugs, including the deaths of 14 women. RU486 abortions, administered after a woman has been diagnosed as being pregnant, are different from the morning after pill.
“Finally, SB 306 also repeals penalties to women who obtain abortions,” Lyons explained. “This is important because repeal removes a conflict in the statues and ensures that once abortions become illegal again in Wisconsin, a woman who obtains an abortion cannot be fined or imprisoned.” No objection was made to this provision.
Now SB 306 moves to the State Assembly where a public hearing has already occurred. The bill must be passed by March 17 when the legislative session ends in order to reach Governor Scott Walker’s desk and be signed into law.