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20-Week Abortion Ban, Other Bills on Wis. Anti-Choice Groups' Legislative Agendas

20-Week Abortion Ban, Other Bills on Wis. Anti-Choice Groups' Legislative Agendas

December 16, 2014 — With conservatives retaining control of Wisconsin's Legislature, antiabortion-rights groups intend to push proposals that failed last year, as well as introduce new measures, the AP/HTR News reports.

20-Week Ban

In the upcoming session, Wisconsin Right to Life intends to support legislation that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, based on the disputed notion that a fetus can feel pain at that point of development. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, research shows fetuses likely do not feel pain until 27 weeks.

The 20-week ban would bar abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb and is aimed at challenging the viability standard set under Roe v. Wade, according to the AP/HTR News reports.

Other Bills

Another Group, Wisconsin Family Action, intends to prioritize amending language in the state constitution that permits individuals to refuse participation in actions that violate their religious beliefs. The group aims to revise the provision to ensure physicians would not be penalized for refusing to perform abortions. The proposal failed to gain traction in the previous session.

State Rep. Andre Jacque (R), a sponsor of the bill last session, also intends to support an audit into Planned Parenthood's Medicaid billing.

In addition, Pro-Life Wisconsin again intends to back a measure to allow the state to manufacture a "Choose Life" license plate. The state Assembly approved such a bill last session, but it died in the state Senate.

The antiabortion-rights groups have not expressed intentions to bring back fiercely debated measures from last session that would prevent public workers' health insurance from covering abortion, exempt religious groups from covering contraception in employee health plans (AB 216, SB 202) or ban abortions based on the sex of the fetus (AB 217, SB 201).

Meanwhile, a U.S. District Court judge is considering the state's admitting privileges law (Act 37) passed last session. If the judge strikes down the law, state conservatives could push for a revised version (Richmond, AP/HTR News, 12/14).