National Partnership for Women & Families

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Wis. Lawmakers Announce Bill To Protect Reproductive Rights

Two Wisconsin lawmakers have announced a bill that would increase access to abortion care and other reproductive health care in the state, Wisconsin Public Radio reports.

The bill is not expected to pass the conservative state legislature. According to WPR, 96% of counties in the state currently lack an abortion care facility.

Bill Details

The Patients Reproductive Health Act, sponsored by state Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D) and state Rep. Chris Taylor (D), would allow physicians to opt out of telling patients seeking abortion care state-mandated information about the procedure. The bill, which is still being written, also would allow physicians to perform abortions at maternal health care facilities and safeguard patients and providers against harassment.

According to the lawmakers, the bill would not require physicians to provide reproductive health care services that they oppose. For example, Catholic hospitals would not be required to provide certain reproductive health services if no physician is willing to do so.

Comments

Erpenbach and Taylor said the American Civil Liberties Union and similar groups have reviewed the measure to make sure it is constitutional. According to WPR, the bill's anti-harassment provisions "would be an extension" of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (PL 103-259), a federal law that bars the use of threats or physical violence against reproductive health patients and providers.

Erpenbach said, "Constitutionally, I think we feel like we're on pretty solid ground."

Meanwhile, Taylor noted that the bill "recognizes and protects the conscience rights of the providers who believe they have a moral, ethical and legal obligation to provide comprehensive health care."

Doug Laube, a gynecologist and former chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Wisconsin, called the bill "very important legislation," highlighting the anti-harassment provision (Shah, Wisconsin Public Radio, 11/19).