While the country has been completely focused on Texas and its incredibly restrictive antiabortion bill, the Wisconsin State Assembly passed four anti-abortion bills. Gracie Skogman, legislative director of the Wisconsin Right to Life, commented, “The heart of the pro-life movement is supporting women and their unborn children. The bills passed in the Assembly today exemplify this mission.
Let’s take quick a look at what these bills actually do.
The Born Alive Survivors Protection Act (AB6) relates to requirements for children born alive following abortion or attempted abortion. If the abortion or attempted abortion somehow results in birth of a live child then it must be given the same degree of care given to children born of the same gestational age. It should be noted that abortion resulting in birth instead of termination is such a rare occurrence even according to antiabortion groups. Live Action reported that the Charlotte Lozier Institute examined CDC data and found there were 143 botched abortions that resulted in the birth and death of the fetus over an 11 year period—that’s about 13 cases among the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed each year in the United States. Furthermore, this law may be essentially useless as it requires that “abortion survivors” be given the same care as their naturally born counterparts of the same gestational age and Wisconsin’s gestational cut off for elective abortion is at 20 weeks—a whole month before most healthcare providers will even consider intervening to save the life of an infant born prematurely due to an already impossibly low survival rate and how brutal the process of NICU medical intervention actually is even for those that stand a chance at survival. Additionally, there’s already a federal law that extends protections to any fetus born after a botched abortion called the Born Alive Infants Protection Act.
The Prenatal Diagnosis Information Act (AB594) requires physicians who perform pre- or postnatal tests for congenial conditions with positive test results to provide the parents with evidence-based educational resources and supportive information about the conditions, which doesn’t sound bad as it gives parents information if they receive a diagnosis regarding their child or pregnancy. The Shield the Vulnerable Act (AB595) prohibits abortions that are based solely on the race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or congenital disability. These two bills appear to be intended to work in conjunction with each other by ensuring that women receive information about a fetal anomaly (most likely for a wanted pregnancy), but then are unable to make the decision to abort the pregnancy purely based on that anomaly diagnosis. AB595 does allow for exceptions where the congenital disability is incapable of sustaining life after birth, but specifies this doesn’t apply to any condition that is treatable. There is the potential to create cases where women would have to choose between giving birth to children who may suffer horribly depending on their condition or travel out of the state to terminate their pregnancy. Giving birth may be traumatizing to women who felt having an abortion would be more humane and traveling out of state for an abortion would only be available to those with the resources and time to be able to do so.
A Woman’s Right to Know Act (AB593) is perhaps the most dangerous of these four bills. It requires any woman considering a two-step medically induced abortion that uses mifepristone to be informed she may be able to stop the abortion process after the first dose if she chooses to do so. In simpler terms, it requires providers to inform women about Abortion Pill Reversal, an experimental treatment that is currently not approved by the FDA. Previously, we discussed how the study on APR that antiabortion supporters applauded doesn’t prove that any continued pregnancies were the result of the treatment rather than mifepristone being such a weak abortifacient by itself that a second drug, misoprostol, is needed. The original study also didn’t examine if women experienced complications as it was only focused on the outcome of the pregnancies and a study done to determine if APR actually works had to be halted after a quarter of the participants experienced hemorrhaging. Women should have access to accurate information available to them to help them make an informed decision about an unwanted pregnancy and this law forces the spread of information that is not considered medically accurate or safe by the medical community.
Although Governor Tony Evers is anticipated to veto these bills, it’s still concerning from the pro-choice standpoint that four antiabortion bills got passed at once during a time when reproductive rights seem to hang in the balance.