The next legislative session is on the horizon, and Wisconsin Right To Life (WRTL) has set its sights on advancing anti-choice legislation in Wisconsin. With an all red government, WRTL sees an opening to get what is sure to be a controversial bill passed.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that among the provisions sought by WRTL, the most notable is a requirement to force those seeking abortions to first have an ultrasound conducted while also being forced to watch. The group is also seeking to limit abortions to 20 weeks, instead of the current 24 week allowance.
The requirement to have a forced ultrasound would make Wisconsin one of only three states with such a requirement, according to the Guttmacher Institute. However, Wisconsin Right To Life wants to take the requirement a step further by forcing women to watch the screen as the ultrasound is performed. This would make Wisconsin the only state with such a draconian law.
The ultrasound requirements, proponents claim, help to deter those women who may end up regretting their decision down the road, and allows them time to reconsider their options. Opponents say that most women do not take abortion lightly, and that it is not the duty of the physician to counsel one way or the other. Opponents also claim the ultrasounds will add to the cost of an abortion, which many low-income families cannot afford.
Currently, Wisconsin law allows for abortions up to 24 weeks. The provision to ban abortions after 20 weeks is motivated by the belief by anti-choice advocates that fetuses can feel pain by 24 weeks. There is disputable evidence from both sides, so in reality, there is no extremely reliable data to go by. If Wisconsin were to enact the law, it would become the eighth state with such a law enacted since 2010. Georgia will join those ranks in 2013.
Several Republican legislators are signaling their willingness to work with Wisconsin Right To Life, including state Senators Mary Lazich (R) of New Berlin and Glenn Grothmann (R) of West Bend. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has also been vocal in his support for the anti-choice movement, and would likely be open to signing a bill should it reach his desk.
While the right-wing in Wisconsin may be receptive to such changes, Democrats are not as enthused. State Representative Sandy Pasch of Shorewood Hills stated, “They didn’t campaign on this. They campaigned on jobs and the economy.” It appears, for now, that those who thought the elections earlier this month signaled progress for women were woefully wrong.