GOP-backed abortion bills approved by Wisconsin Senate

The Wisconsin Senate on Wednesday approved a package of Republican-authored bills designed to discourage abortion in the state.

Republicans control the Senate and passed all four bills without any votes from a single Democrat.

The measures now go to the Assembly but they appear doomed. Republicans passed the proposals last legislative session only to see Democratic Gov. Tony Evers veto them. Evers is almost certain to veto any abortion restrictions that reach his desk this session and the GOP doesn’t have enough votes to override him.

Senate Democrats warned Republicans during debate that none of the bills would become law. They decried the proposals as nothing more than a cynical attempt to energize the conservative base heading into the 2022 elections.

"We're just interested in making abortion as difficult, as dangerous, as onerous as possible," said Democratic state Sen. Kelda Roys, a former executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, a group that advocates for access to abortions. "Thank you for giving (Evers) the opportunity to once again show he's on the side of the people."

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One proposal would defund abortion providers by prohibiting them from participating in Medicaid except in cases of sexual assault or incest or if the woman's life is in danger.

Another bill would require doctors to tell any woman seeking an abortion through a regimen of drugs that she could still change her mind after ingesting the first dose and could still continue the pregnancy.

A third bill would require doctors to ensure parents of unborn children who test positive for a congenital condition to receive information about the condition. A fourth bill would prohibit abortions based on an unborn child's sex, race or national origin.

The bills come as abortion rights supporters are concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that essentially legalized abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb. The Biden administration on Monday asked the Supreme Court to block a Texas law that bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks and before some women know they are pregnant. The law is the strictest curb on abortion in the nation.

Senate President Chris Kapenga, the chief sponsor of the drug dose bill, defended that measure as a way to give women more information. He was the only Republican who spoke about any of the bills on the floor.

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