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Wisconsin senate bill proposes ban on race, sex and disability-based abortionsSubmitted: 04/23/2019
Stephen Goin
Stephen Goin
Reporter/Anchor
sgoin@wjfw.com

Wisconsin senate bill proposes ban on race, sex and disability-based abortions
NORTH CENTRAL WISCONSIN - Wisconsin lawmakers will soon discuss legislation that could place new limitations on abortion.

Senate Bill 173 would ban "selective" abortions, or those based solely on the race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex or "congenital disability" of an unborn child, like Down syndrome.

"We need to stand up for these individuals, because if we're not as lawmakers, who is," questioned Stevens Point Republican Sen. Patrick Testin, a co-author of the bill.

He admits selective abortions aren't a pressing concern for Wisconsin.

"Even though it might not be a huge issue in the state at current ... we want to make sure these vulnerable populations are protected," said Testin.

A study from medical journal Prenatal Diagnosis, reports over a 16 year period ending in 2011, 67% of American women chose to end their pregnancies after a down syndrome diagnosis. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there's little evidence to prove race or sex based terminations occur.

Another provision of Senate Bill 173 would require doctors to inform women that selective procedures are illegal. However, it's not the women seeking those procedures who would face repercussions for breaking the law.

It would punish abortion providers if their patients or partners file a civil claim. If the patient is a minor or dies during the procedure, their parents would be able to sue for emotional of physiological distress. 

Faith-based, life affirming organizations have their own concerns with the bill.

"I would like to see the legislation get worked through," said Jack Hoogendyk of Hope Life Center in Wausau.

He says the legislation has the potential to take away a woman's privacy and power to choose.

"I would rather see that the woman makes the decision on her own," said Hoogendyk.

That's a decision Sen. Testin hopes the government can influence in an effort to end discrimination.

Senate Bill 173 was introduced Monday and referred to the Committee on Health and Human Services. The bill is not seeking to change Wisconsin's current law which allows for abortion over 20 weeks if the mother's life is in danger.

Bills banning abortion based on a Down syndrome diagnosis have passed in Utah and North Dakota.


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