November 8, 2013 — The Wisconsin Senate Health Committee on Thursday advanced an antiabortion-rights measure (AB 216) to the floor for a full vote, the AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The state's Republican-led Senate is expected to debate the measure on Tuesday, which is the chamber's last scheduled day in session this year.
The Wisconsin Assembly earlier this year passed the measure (Bauer, AP/Star Tribune, 11/7). The bill would prohibit the use of public funds for abortion coverage in public employees' health plans and allow religious organizations to refuse to cover contraception in their health plans (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/17). Under a provision the state Assembly added in June, employers could cover contraceptives for workers who require them for reasons other than preventing pregnancy.
Gov. Scott Walker (R) has expressed support for the bill and indicated he would sign it into law if it passes.
Senator Pledges 'All Out Hell' Over Insurance Bill
After the committee vote, state Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D) promised "all out hell" over the insurance bill when it reaches the floor for debate. He said that employers should not be given the power to decide whether a woman has access to contraceptives.
Erpenbach also called on the Senate to hold a public hearing on the bill. The Assembly previously held a hearing on the measures, but that was before the insurance bill was amended in June, according to the AP/Star Tribune.
The Wisconsin Medical Society, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union oppose the legislation. Wisconsin Family Action, the Wisconsin Catholic Conference and other groups that oppose abortion rights support the legislation (AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune, 11/7).