Wis. Lawmakers Advance Bill Banning Fetal Tissue Research, Two Antiabortion-Rights Measures

October 15, 2015 — A Wisconsin Senate committee in separate votes on Tuesday approved a ban on fetal tissue research and two funding measures targeting Planned Parenthood, Madison Capital Times reports.

Background on Bills

State Sens. Duey Stroebel (R) and Chris Kapenga (R) proposed the state Senate version of the bills.

The measures originally were introduced in the state Assembly by state Rep. André Jacque (R) following the release of misleading videos targeting Planned Parenthood (Opoien, Madison Capital Times, 10/13). Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin currently does not offer fetal tissue donation.

Details on Measures

One measure (S 260) would prohibit the sale or donation of fetal tissue procured since Jan. 1 of this year, as well as any research on the tissue. Researchers who violate the bill could receive up to six years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines. The Assembly Criminal Justice Committee advanced its version of the measure (AB 305) in September (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/11).

The Senate committee on Tuesday also advanced a measure (S 237) that would end $3.5 million in federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Under the measure, the state would have to apply for the federal funds, which would be distributed to the state's Well Woman program. Abortion providers would not receive any of the funds (AP/Northern Public Radio, 10/13). The state Assembly passed its version of the bill (AB 310) in late September (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/28).

The third bill (S 238) would mandate that family planning clinics that get discounted contraceptive drugs via Medicaid can only bill Medicaid for the drug acquisition and dispensing costs, which would cut roughly $4.5 million in funding annually for the organization (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/14). A state Assembly committee already has advanced its version of the bill (AB 311).


State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D) criticized the fetal tissue measure, noting, "What we are legislating isn't going after Planned Parenthood as much as it is going after research that is being done on our campuses, as it is going after people receiving treatment as a result of that research" (Madison Capital Times, 10/13).

Erpenbach also said there was not yet a sufficient plan for how the state Department of Health Services would make sure that those who use Planned Parenthood's services remain able to access care if the organization loses its funding. "We have no idea what this is even going to look like," he said (Stein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/13).