by Steven Ertelt
September 19, 2007
Madison, WI (LifeNews.com) — A Wisconsin legislative panel has approved a measure designed to help women avoid forced or coerced abortions. The bill requires abortion practitioners to do more to make sure women are not having an abortion because a partner or parent pressured them.
Should abortion facility staff determine pressure is present, they must refer the woman in question to places that can help her deal with family issues or domestic abuse.
The Assembly Judiciary and Ethics Committee approved the bill that would have Wisconsin join seven other states — including Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Utah and West Virginia — that deal with forced abortions.
Current Wisconsin law requires women to consent to the abortion, but does not monitor whether pressure led to the woman submitting to the abortion.
Wisconsin Right to Life applauded the vote and said women are often intimidated into having an abortion.
“This legislation will reinforce the fact that it is against Wisconsin law to perform an abortion on a woman against her will,” WRTL legislative director Susan Armacost told the LaCrosse Tribune.
The panel backed the measure on a bipartisan 8-2 vote but Rep. Fred Kessler, a Milwaukee Democrat, voted against it.
He said he would have voted for the measure had Republicans on the panel not voted to gut another bill and help hospitals avoid being forced to give the morning after pill to women who are victims of sexual abuse.
The bill now heads to the full Republican-controlled Assembly for a debate and vote.
Rep. Mary Lazich, a Republican from New Berlin, is one of the key backers of the legislation.
“This bill would make sure the physician and qualified attending people spend that extra inch in terms of conversation with the woman to ensure it’s not a coercive abortion and the woman has assistance in terms of information and education," she said.
Lazich cited reports from the Elliot Institute in Illinois which has interviewed women who have abortions. It finds forced or coerced situations in as many as 64 percent of the abortion cases.
State Rep. Mark Gundrum, another supporter, said he backed the bill because he has heard of numerous abortion cases involving undo pressure on women to have an abortion.
He said that, in many cases, the pressure comes from a husband or boyfriend or from the parents or fathers of the women.
“This isn’t talking about providing health care,” Gundrum said, according to the newspaper. “This is just requiring to make sure that the consent is freely given, and if it’s a victim of abuse, there’s some kind of outreach method.”