Wisconsin Conscience Clause Bill Gets State Senate Hearing

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 9, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Wisconsin Conscience Clause Bill Gets State Senate Hearing

by Maria Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
October 9, 2003

Madison, WI (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life leaders in Wisconsin are lobbying for a "conscience clause" bill which would ensure that health care professionals and facilities are not forced to participate in abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and unethical medical experimentation.

"AB 67 recognizes that many health care professionals and facilities believe their mission is to treat and heal patients, not to engage in actions that deliberately destroy human life," said Susan Armacost, Legislative Director of Wisconsin Right to Life. "This reasonable and commonsense legislation deserves to be enacted into law."

The bill overwhelmingly passed the State Assembly. A Senate committee held a hearing on the bill on Tuesday and is expected to vote on it on October 14.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jean Hundertmark  (R-Clintonville) and Sen. Carol Roessler (R-Oshkosh).

"This is a groundbreaking piece of legislation dealing with the conscience rights of pro-life health care professionals," said Armacost. However, Armacost notes, "Some opponents of AB 67 are so fearful this legislation will pass they have resorted to making up ridiculous fabrications."

According to Armacost, critics of the bill are falsely claiming that a pharmacist could refuse to give medication to an AIDS patient based on objections to homosexuality. Some legislators have even gone to the extreme of calling the bill "un-American" and referring to the pro-life movement as "the Islamic Jihad of Wisconsin."

Opponents say the bill would limit abortion and they claim it is unnecessary since assisted suicide and euthanasia are illegal in Wisconsin, though the bill covers other issues.

During the hearing, Sen. Chuck Chvala (D) said, "Clearly, they’re attempting to limit rights of abortion and women’s rights."

Pro-life leaders point out that the majority of the opposition to the bill comes from the pro-abortion lobby — specifically, Planned Parenthood, the state’s largest abortion operation.

The opposition is not surprising, pro-life activists note, since the pro-abortion movement has been involved in a national effort to force health care providers to participate in abortion. For instance, in Alaska, the state supreme court has ruled that some community hospitals must perform abortions against their will. In Connecticut, meanwhile, a certificate of need was denied to a proposed
outpatient clinic that had refused to perform abortions.

The Wisconsin legislation would offer protection for health care workers and facilities if abortion activists attempted similar efforts. The measure would also protect workers from job discrimination and lawsuits if they refused to take part in activities that attacked innocent human life.

Subtle and not-so-subtle efforts are underway to force health care professionals to take part in assisted suicide and euthanasia, pro-life activists say.

For instance, some workers object to the practice of causing a death through starvation and dehydration. The Wisconsin legislation would provide assurances that such health care professionals would not have to participate in such activities. The legislation would apply not only to doctors and nurses, but also medical students. In addition, pharmacists would be protected from having to dispense drugs such as the abortion pill RU-486 and drugs that would be used in an assisted suicide. Also, medical researchers would be protected against efforts to require them to take part
in the deliberate destruction of human embryos.

According to its backers, the bill does not protect conscience rights for medical treatments, pain medication, pre-natal care, birth control, fertility treatments, anti-depressant drugs, or anti-seizure medications.

Related web sites:
Wisconsin Right to Life – https://www.wrtl.org