Last week, the Wisconsin Senate approved four anti-abortion bills that outlaw abortion in cases where the fetus has been or may be diagnosed with a congenital disorder, empower the Department of Health Services to decertify any private abortion provider under the Medical Assistance program, and require doctors to inform patients taking their first dose of Mifepristone that the abortion may still be reversed if the patient seeks advanced medical care. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has strongly pushed back against false notions that such abortion reversals are even possible, stating that they have no scientific basis.
The measures also include “born alive legislation,” which requires medical providers to take care that a fetus is preserved during the extremely rare occurrence when a fetus may still be viable following an abortion procedure. Health care providers who do not comply with the bill may face felony charges and up to six years of imprisonment.
This “born alive legislation” is in line with rhetoric that creates false narratives that doctors performing abortion are killing healthy babies and intimidates doctors out of offering abortions later in pregnancy. For example, Wisconsin legislator Senator Roger Roth has stated publicly that he supports the Wisconsin legislation not because it is anti-abortion but because it is anti-murder.
The Wisconsin bills will likely not survive, however, since late last month, Gov. Tony Evers took to Twitter to express his disapproval of the anti-abortion legislation passed earlier by the Assembly. He stated that he plans to veto anti-abortion bills arriving on his desk, because he firmly believes in a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her health care.
Anti-abortion legislation is also being introduced in states other than Wisconsin. Just last month, Georgia approved a bill criminalizing abortion providers and outlawing abortions up to the time a doctor can detect a supposed “fetal heartbeat,” which in practice is only about up to six weeks. Similarly, the Alabama state legislature passed a bill that would ban abortion, subject all miscarriages to criminal investigations, and threaten doctors with ninety-nine years in prison.
This legislation and surrounding rhetoric are continuing to embolden anti-abortion activists across the country. According to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s 2018 National Clinic Violence survey, anti-abortion activism is still a threat to abortion providers nationwide as 45% of clinics that were surveyed reported threats and acts of both violence and harassment.
Media Resources: The Hill 6/5/19, Wisconsin State Legislature 4/22/19, Twitter 5/21/19, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists 8/17, Journal Sentinel 6/5/19, Washington Post 5/12/19, Feminist Newswire 5/16/19