Wis. Senate Passes Bill Tightening Voluntary Consent Requirements, Banning Telemedicine for Abortion Care

February 23, 2012 — The Wisconsin Senate on Wednesday voted 17-15 to pass a bill that would place new restrictions on abortion care, the AP/Superior Telegram reports. The bill will now go to the Assembly (AP/Superior Telegram, 2/22).

The bill would require that a physician -- not a physician's assistant, as currently permitted -- can provide a woman with information from the state Department of Health Services at least 24 hours before she receives abortion care. As part of that process, the woman signs a form confirming her voluntary consent to abortion care (Rodriguez, AP/Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, 2/21). Physicians could be charged with a felony for not complying with the new rules (Stein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2/22).

In addition, the bill would require a physician to physically examine and be present when providing a woman with medication abortion. The provision would prohibit a physician's use of telemedicine to consult with a woman remotely before providing her with medication abortion. Such a practice is not currently used in Wisconsin.

Lawmakers clashed over the bill's provisions during a Senate legislation session on Tuesday. Bill author Sen. Mary Lazich (R) said the measure would protect young women and girls. However, Sen. Lena Taylor (D) said the bill would force physicians to put victims of sexual assault and incest "on trial" to justify their decision to obtain an abortion.

Bill supporters include Pro-Life Wisconsin, Wisconsin Catholic Conference, Wisconsin Family Action and Wisconsin Right to Life. Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Medical Society oppose the bill (AP/Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, 2/21).