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State Senate Approves New Abortion Rules

Alex E. Proimos, Flickr

Wisconsin's state senators voted along party lines Wednesday morning, to advance a bill requiring women seeking abortions to first undergo an ultrasound. Republicans voted in favor, Democrats against.Democrats used a procedural tactic to delay a vote on Tuesday, following hours of debate. On Wednesday, Republicans shut off debate after only two senators testified, declaring others who attempted to speak, out of order.

Democrat Sen. Kathleen Vinehout said the bill's intent is to close clinics that provide abortions in Wisconsin.

Republican sponsor, Sen. Mary Lazich called her bill a small step to protect women. Gov. Walker has said he will sign the measure into law.

Once he does, doctors performing abortions will have to perform or order an ultrasound beforehand and describe in detail, what it shows. The exception is when the pregnancy results from rape or incest.

During Tuesday's debate, Lazich says requiring women to have an ultrasound before an abortion is a sign of good medical care. She says it allows the woman to choose whether she wants an abdominal or internal ultrasound. Critics say women early in pregnancy can only have vaginal ultrasounds, but Lazich responded that they're nothing compared to an abortion.

“I went to my I Phone here to look up the methods of abortion and it describes the manual vacuum extraction or the machine vacuum extraction, and the pain that goes along with that, and the residual complications that can go along with that. And I would certainly argue that that is much more significant in terms of body trauma than either form of ultrasound that the woman might choose,” Lazich.

Lawmakers amended the bill so that a doctor does not have to perform the ultrasound and give the verbal explanation. Another qualified person could do so.

Democrat Lena Taylor opposes the bill. The Milwaukee Senator disputed Lazich's claim that the bill is about ensuring women have proper care.

“This bill has been cleverly crafted. It really does put up barriers and road blocks to the right to an abortion. I would almost appreciate if we just called it what it was, instead of pretending that we’re trying to provide a different, higher level of quality of care. Just say I don’t agree with abortion, and I want to put up all the roadblocks I can between a woman and her right to make that choice,” Taylor says.

If the state ultimately approves the rules, Wisconsin would join only a handful of states requiring ultrasounds before abortions.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.