What’s So Bad about the Forced Ultrasound Bill?

I came across an interesting comment last week in response to my post about the shameful aborted debate in the Wisconsin State Senate on June 13. The commenter, whom I commend for having gone to the trouble of actually reading the forced ultrasound bill (SB206), asked what was so horrible about it. The perplexed commenter thought it didn’t sound all that bad. After all, the more invasive form of the procedure, vaginal ultrasound, was not required, and an exception was included for cases of rape or incest.

My body, my choice

Dear perplexed commenter, I’m so glad you asked.

The bill specifies that the technician performing the ultrasound “provide a means for the pregnant woman to visualize any fetal heartbeat.” Most abortions are performed in the first trimester of pregnancy, during which time it is usually not possible for a fetal heartbeat to be detected using any means other than a vaginal probe. So essentially the stipulation that a fetal heartbeat be detected and confirmed to the pregnant woman is the same thing as requiring a transvaginal ultrasound.

So the assertion that this bill represents rape by the state is a valid one. Please note the irony of the current state law requiring that the physician certify that the woman is not being coerced into having an abortion, while stipulating that she be forced to have a vaginal ultrasound. Apparently the GOP figures that coercion is bad unless they’re the ones doing the coercing.

The exclusion in cases of rape or incest may sound good on paper—until you consider that the vast majority of cases of rape and incest go unreported. Rep. Mandy Wright (D-Wasau) spoke on Thursday about her own experience of having been raped repeatedly by a cousin when she was eight years old. She began by apologizing to her parents for sharing this family secret. “This has been kept private with my family for good reason. It was not reported. There’s a reason that only 19 percent of rapes are ever reported.” So the rape exception actually applies only to reported rapes, and given that such a small percentage of rapes are reported, it’s not much of an exception.

Pregnancy presents substantial difficulties for many women, and there are still medically problematic pregnancies that endanger the life of the woman. Imagine that just being pregnant was posing an immediate danger to your life, and yet, to procure a necessary, life-saving, perfectly legal abortion, you would have to have this unnecessary, invasive procedure in which the technician must “provide a medical description of the ultrasound images including the dimensions of the unborn child and a description of any viewable external features and internal organs of the unborn child; and provide a means for the pregnant woman to visualize any fetal heartbeat.” For many women, this would amount to state-mandated torture.

Pregnancy poses significant dangers especially for young adolescents. Imagine a young girl already traumatized by rape, who then becomes pregnant as a result of that rape, and who is further traumatized by having to publicly report her rape. And then she would be traumatized—and violated—yet again by being forced to go through the ultrasound procedure prescribed by this bill. In the words of Rep. Sondy Pope (D-Cross Plains), “what you’re doing [by passing this legislation] is cruel, absolutely cruel.”

Rep. Sondy Pope. Photo by Leslie Amsterdam 

Rep. Pope spoke on Thursday about her personal experience:

I don’t like talking about personal stuff, because it’s personal. I went through five pregnancies, and I have one child. My husband and I went to the doctor for my second pregnancy, and … he said, “Here’s the deal. This baby’s going to be born sooner or later, but you’re not going to have a live child. Now, I can admit you tomorrow morning, and we can get this over with. Or you can wait until nature takes its course. And I’ll give you a few minutes to decide what to do.”

Abortion. We’re talking abortion. That was the procedure that I could choose. Or just walk around like a time bomb waiting for this child that we so desperately wanted, to be born and die. Women don’t want to grow up and have abortions. These are not choices that we like. …

I’m appalled, just appalled, that you feel your morals, whatever your church dictates to you, has got to play out in my life. That’s disgusting. The only amendment that didn’t get offered today that should have was that a legislator be in the room. Some places, some decisions do not belong to you. You can’t have them. You just can’t. You can’t hurt people this way. You aren’t immune to it. Someday your daughter, your sister, maybe your wife is going to be faced with something like this, and then maybe I hope you remember this. Because what you’re doing is cruel, absolutely cruel.

Another troubling aspect of this “not-so-bad” bill is that it requires that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the doctor’s clinic. As Harriet Rowan points out on PRWatch, this is “an onerous provision for clinics located in less-populated areas of this mostly rural state. Opponents see the provision as a blatant attempt to close a Planned Parenthood facility in Appleton, the only abortion clinic in Wisconsin outside of Madison and Milwaukee.”

Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) wrote in the Cap Times yesterday:

Women used to die from abortions. Women used to become sterile from abortions. Limiting access to abortion does not end abortion. Instead, it makes it unsafe for women, as it was in the days before Roe v. Wade. Wisconsin is moving so far backward that it’s not “if” women are going to start dying, but “when,” especially considering Sen. Mary Lazich’s, R-New Berlin, words during the debate on the ultrasound bill: “I think we ought to be doing a lot more. You’re probably going to see a lot more laws from me … this is a small step today.” Women of Wisconsin should be alarmed that these direct attacks will continue.

All in all, the forced ultrasound bill is meant not only to discourage women from having abortions, regardless of their circumstances, but to victimize and shame those who seek an abortion, to limit their access to the extent that some will choose dangerous, life-threatening options rather than jump through the hoops prescribed by the GOP.

This bill, dear perplexed commenter, is nothing short of an assault by GOP lawmakers on the women of this state. They seem to think that they know better—better than women, better than their doctors, better than their families—what’s best for Wisconsin women. And they believe they have the right to violate women in this most personal of ways to try to influence a private decision that is none of their business.

Nondebatable!

The Wisconsin State Senate today passed a bill requiring that Wisconsin women seeking an abortion undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound procedure, after which the physician must give an account of the number of “unborn children” present, the characteristics, dimensions, and location in the womb. Because, of course, women are too ignorant to know “what they’re carrying in their womb and what they’re doing” unless it’s rammed down their throats. Senator Mary Lazich (R) has proclaimed that “it’s time for women to know the facts.” Because how could we possibly “know the facts” about what’s happening in our own bodies without her and her Republican colleagues forcing them on us?

Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D) pointed out that not a single one of the constituents in her district asked for this bill or expressed support for it. She related the concerns of a couple of her constituents, one of whom pointed out that only 16 percent of rapes are reported, that one in six women in the U.S. will at some point in their life experience rape, and that that comes to more than 400,000 Wisconsin women.

Senator Lazich dismissed Sen. Vinehout’s “theatrics” (before proceeding with her own) by pointing out that the bill exempts rape and incest. Does it also exempt unreported rapes? Because those are the rapes Sen. Vinehout was referring to. In case you forgot, that’s 84 percent of rapes.

Here’s how it went down:
 

For those who don’t have the stomach to watch the video (and believe me, I don’t blame you one bit—watching it over and over again to get all the juicy quotes was truly nauseating), let me describe to you the “very cold, cold procedure and what happened, and the cold environment” in which democracy was dealt yet another death blow in Wisconsin.

Your voice and the voices of many of your legislative representatives were dismissed and discounted. After Senator Lazich’s animated testimony, Democratic senators tried to continue, but they were silenced. Senate President Mike Ellis came completely unhinged and shouted while slamming down his gavel so hard that it broke: “You’re out of order! Sit down! You’re not recognized! The question before the house is nondebatable. Call the roll!”

So that’s how democracy dies in Wisconsin. At least it was with some drama and the perfect symbolism of a broken gavel. And once this bill passes, we will have to live with it “day after day after day after day” for the rest of our lives. The women of Wisconsin will have to “live with this trauma” of having our voices silenced, of having our knowledge and judgment questioned, of having unnecessary medical procedures forced upon us by a legislature that refuses to hear our voices or even consider our concerns. “And it’s time for that to end.”

It’s time for those whom Senator Lazich and Senator Ellis purport to represent to know the facts about how their senators are carrying on in the state capitol in their name and what they’re doing when they reelect these legislative bullies over and over again. “If you have a loved one that’s thinking about” voting Republican, “for crying out loud, you want them to have full information. … You want them to know what’s going on” in that legislative body and “what they’re doing and that they’re not going to be able to change that for the rest of their life. They make that decision. It’s over. It’s over in a few minutes, and then later on they can live with the fact that” with that one decision in the voting booth, they supported the death of democracy in Wisconsin.

Domestic terrorist Francis Grady gasoline bombed a Wisconsin Planned Parenthood because “they’re killing babies there”

Update 04/05/12
“Do you even care at all about the 1,000 babies that died screaming?”
This is a statement Francis Grady made aloud to his court-appointed attorney yesterday in federal court in Green Bay.

Francis Grady wanted to plead guilty immediately to arson of a building used in interstate commerce and intentionally damaging a property used to provide reproductive health services. His court appointed attorney ignored him and scheduled a preliminary hearing.

Read more at Green Bay Press Gazzette where you can also learn that Mr. Grady says he’ll die if his neck brace is removed – even though he obviously didn’t die when he took it off himself in the court room.

Update 04/03/12:
“Following a report by a witness that a white, SUV type vehicle was seen leaving the Planned Parenthood area at the same time flames were also observed at the building, investigators were able to corroborate this information after viewing security video from the location,” Grand Chute Police Sgt. Greg Mohr said in a press release.
The vehicle, which had “distinctive markings,” was involved in a traffic accident near the clinic after the bomb was reported and had to be towed away. Using information collected from that traffic accident, the police were able to identify the driver, whose physical description “matched physical characteristics of a male subject observed on the security video provided by Planned Parenthood,” the press release said.
Police located the suspect on Sunday night and have detained him at Outagamie County Jail. They did not release details about his age or appearance and said no charges have been filed.”
source-Huffington Post

Domestic terrorism struck in Grand Chute, WI yesterday in the form of a small explosive devise placed on a window ledge of the Planned Parenthood located on North Gillette Street. The Appleton Post Crescent reported that the Planned Parenthood Clinic was damaged by a “homemade explosive device”. If this type of device was planted in another country, wouldn’t it have been called an I.E.D. (improvised explosive device)? NBC 26 has reported on this story as well. Their report states the following “Luckily, there was only a small amount of damage to the building.”

Business Insider did a longer and more in depth article. They did a great job of giving background information to the story. I recommend reading the full article if you have the time. Below is an excerpt from their piece:

“Like many states, the Wisconsin state legislature is embroiled in a culture war battle over women’s healthcare. State lawmakers are now debating several pieces of legislation pertaining to contraception and reproduction, including a bill that would require women seeking abortions to have a transvaginal ultrasound and one that would “emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect”in the state’s child abuse prevention campaigns.”

These reports are missing a much bigger issue than how much damage was done to the building. They left out the fact that this was an act of domestic terrorism. Planned Parenthood was lucky that the damage to the building was minimal and the bombers struck when no one was in the building. While I hope this was a one time event, who’s to say this won’t happen again with maybe a bigger bomb or at a time when the building is occupied?

Givin’ Mitt Shitt in Fitchburg, Wisconsin

Approximately 250 people assembled outside of Walker’s laughably named “Victory Center” in Fitchburg to give Mitt Romney some heck Saturday March 31st. Romney was visiting to do a few of his robocalls live and to stump for his presidential primary in Wisconsin.

The protesters were a mix of people who held signs like “Keep your Mitt(s) off Birth Control” and people with “Recall Walker” signs, or pro-union signs, or signs that referenced dogs [if you don’t know what the dog thing is about, try Dogs Against Romney ].

I did see Mitt Romney for the 1.25 seconds that he spent outside as he dashed from the door to an SUV.  I also saw Paul Ryan. They both waved at the crowd. In return the crowd booed, hissed, yelled “Mitt is Shitt” and “Ryan Sucks” and chanted “Recall Walker!”. After the convoy of SUVs and cop cars became full of its political cargo, they started to move out slowly and we yelled “shame”. I usually don’t like the “shame” yell. On this occasion I reveled in it. I think I was inspired by the presence of Wisconsin’s own Paul Ryan who I am more familiar with than Romney.

 

Real dogs and one stuffed dog were in attendance with either special attire or  their car carriers or signs such as “I ride inside” or “Mutts against mitt!”

Ed drives away with his Mutts against Mitt display atop the car. Give Mitt Shitt protest in Fitchburg, WI March 31, 2012

A dog carrier on top of a car at an anti-Mitt Romney protest called Give Mitt Shitt Fitchburg, Wisconsin

 A dog wearing a Green Bay Packer jersey at the Give Mitt Shitt protest in Fitchburg, March 31 2012

Many got a chuckle out of the box sign below.   I asked the sign owner if she thought Mitt would even understand her slang. We laughed and discussed the real possibility that he has somebody on staff to help him with understanding the language of the commoners.

 Woman holds a sign above her head which says "Think outside my box" at a protest of Mitt Romney at a Scott Walker call center in Fitchburg, Wisconsin March 31, 2012.

 

I spoke to the patriarch of the Gadsen flag-wielding group below for a few minutes, asking him if he was in favor of Romney or Walker or Santorum. He replied that he is in favor of all of those men and for limited government and liberty. I pressed a little bit more to determine who he’s voting for on Tuesday in the GOP primary and all he would say is that Romney is the candidate expected to win –  not a ringing endorsement. I’d guess that 20 people in attendance were showing support for Romney or Walker.

 A family holds Gadsen flags at a Give Mitt Shitt rally in Fitchburg Wisconsin March 31, 2012.

 

Dignitaries in attendance included Assembly Rep. Chris Taylor, the DJ Sly of WTDY-FM,  a small group of Raging Grannies singers (who concluded their visit with a a round of “Solidarity Forever”), and Lisa Subeck of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin. Rep. Kelda Helen Roys also attended and wrote a statement at the site Kelda for Congress.

Wisconsin Assembly Representative Chris Taylor speaks to the press at a rally against Mitt Romney in Fitchburg, Wisconsin March 31, 2012.
Wisconsin Assembly Representative Chris Taylor

I made a facebook event for the visit called “Give Mitt Shitt!” at the urging of Timothy Reilly.  A bit later I discovered that another event called “Keep your Mitts off our Birth Control!” was already organized by  NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin.  I really did not intend to duplicate efforts but in the end, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to have multiple facebook events that take a different spin on the same protest. It draws in different sets of people and therefore MORE people. The more the merrier!

For more on Mitt Romney’s flip-flop on women’s health issues see NARAL’s Romney page.

Visit NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin to stay up to date with the fight to preserve women’s rights and women’s access to reproductive rights in Wisconsin.

For more photos see my facebook album or NARAL’s.

Event date: March 31, 2012

Women are mad as hell in Wisconsin. The war on women is here.

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Update via the Post Crescent: AB 154 passed with a vote of 61-34 Tuesday night. It bans “abortion coverage from policies obtained through a health insurance exchange to be set up under the federal health care reform law starting in 2014. The bill previously passed the Senate and now heads to Walker” [Link to text of bill AB154]

AB 337 passed with a vote of 60-34 early today (Wednesday) The bill requires “schools to teach abstinence as the only reliable way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The measure, backed by Pro-Life Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, also allows schools to teach abstinence-only classes, which was banned under a 2010 law passed by Democrats. No contraception education would be required.” [Link to text of bill AB337]

“The Assembly planned to complete its work Thursday. The Senate was expected to wrap up Wednesday.”

———

I don’t know if you’ve noticed something different with women in America lately. They seem to be more alarmed and more angry. Part of it is the much-publicized backlash against Rush Limbaugh for his attack against Sandra Fluke. *  Part of it is a growing alarm over a series of invasive laws against women that are hopscotching across our state legislatures.

Now Wisconsin’s Tea Party-dominated Assembly is set to jam 3 pieces of anti-woman legislation through by the end of tonight’s meeting of the legislative body or by, at the latest, March 15th when the legislature’s session is set to end. You can jump to the end of this piece to see more detailed explanations, but briefly, AB 337/SB 237 opens the door to abstinence-only sex education in public schools, AB 154/SB 92 makes private insurance coverage of abortion illegal, and AB 371/SB 306 restricts abortion by telemedicine, and so doing, makes it fundamentally more difficult for rural women to seek an abortion.

I showed up midway during an event I only learned about the night before at a party. About 600 women – many dressed in pink or holding pink signs and most of them young women in their 20’s- gathered at the steps of the Capitol building. Several politicians made a point to visit the rally including gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Falk, Rep. Kelda Helen Roys,  Rep. Chris Taylor, and Rep. Jocosta Zamarippa.

Lisa Subeck, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice, spoke at the rally and quoted Rebecca Kleefisch, pointing out her hypocrisy:   “Rebecca Kleefisch said “I don’t think that government should be in a place of mandating coverage for people. That should be between a patient and a doctor.”  These bills which she supports are inserting politicians smack in the middle  of the doctor patient relationship where they do not belong. . .. so we’re here today to tell Governor Walker and Lieutenant Governor Kleefisch and their anti-choice colleagues in the legislature that  women are watching, women are voting, and women are mad as hell. “

 

I had conversations with multiple women who said they got word of the event from email or facebook but one of the women came after hearing Rep Chris Taylor speak over the weekend. (Rep. Taylor also wrote an editorial published in the Cap Times on March 6 “GOP has declared war on women”). The woman who heard Rep. Taylor urged a friend to come along to the rally and the two of them carried signs about turkeys and uteruses that I didn’t understand. Then I remembered that “turkey” used to be slang for “fool”.

Several of the women I spoke with made a statement I’ve heard repeatedly in the last couple of weeks: “I can’t believe we need to deal with this!”. Women feel the rights they fought for and won should not have to be defended because they are so fundamental to modern life.

At the end of our chat I walked away and the women with the turkey signs called after me with advice for the blog, “Tell your readers they have to vote! We have to get out the vote to turn this around!”

AB 337/SB 237:

Repeals the Healthy Youth Act that was enacted to provide our youth with medically accurate information about how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy. Wisconsin teens are engaging in risky sexual behavior, which is jeopardizing their health, lives and futures. In Wisconsin, the overall teen birth rate has been declining. In 2006 and 2007, we saw a slight increase and then drop in 2009 & 2010. The 2010 WI teen birth rate (26.2 / 1000) was lower than the 2009 national rate (39.1); however many Wisconsin counties have teen birth rates higher than the Wisconsin or national average.

Research is clear that tackling teen pregnancy requires a multi-layered approach, including comprehensive, age appropriate, medically accurate sex education. Wisconsin’s current law regarding sex education standards assures that our students receive an abstinence-centered education that includes medically accurate information about contraception to prevent pregnancy and the spread of disease. The bill you have scheduled reverses this standard and brings Wisconsin back to the days of ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programming. Teenage childbearing and STD’s cost Wisconsin millions each year. In addition, teenage parenthood is the leading cause of school drop out among girls and children of teens do not perform as well in measures of school readiness and child development.

AB 154/SB 92:

Bans private insurance coverage of abortion services. This legislation is not supported by the insurance industry and is opposed by the medical community and the women it serves. The only organizations who are supporting this bill are those who exist only to end access to safe and legal abortion services in Wisconsin. Interestingly enough, these same groups also want to end access to birth control services. These organizations are pushing an agenda today that will prevent private citizens in Wisconsin from purchasing private insurance coverage on the private market.

Assembly Bill 154 will eliminate insurance coverage for abortion services in Wisconsin—even when individual citizens are using their own dollars to purchase private insurance. This is the state legislature telling private insurance what they can and cannot cover. About 80% of all health insurance plans cover abortion services and this bill will be taking away a private benefit that tens of thousands of women currently have.

AB 371/SB 306:

This legislation reiterates policies that are already law and adds additional barriers to women who seek abortion and criminalizes doctors who would follow the best medical practice in regards to abortion care.

This bill is an extremely troubling overreach of legislative authority into the practice of medicine. Under proposed provisions within AB 371, the Wisconsin Legislature go so far as to prescribing the medical procedures that doctors and their patients must follow with abortion care, including the health care facilities women must patronize for follow up abortion care.

– source “”Mad as Hell:” Wisconsin Women Rally Tomorrow Against Last-Minute Rush to Pass Anti-Choice Bills”

 

* Rush Limbaugh turned his vitriol against Fluke, you may remember, because the Georgetown student testified about Georgetown’s policy on contraception during an unofficial hearing led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). She argued that birth control should be covered by health insurance at religious institutions.

Kathleen Falk waves to women assembled on steps of Capitol building for womens' rights rally, March 13, 2012. Women hold bright pinks signs that say "Women are watching" and a woman behind Kathleen Falk holds a sign that says "My body is none of your business".

Wisconsin News: Republicans Lazich, Galloway,and Grothman want to make it harder to get an abortion in WI

“A bill pro-life advocates say is designed to protect women but opponents say throws up more roadblocks to obtaining an abortion will be up for a vote in the Senate Tuesday.

The so-called coercion and webcam abortion prevention bill, SB 306, is the latest attack on women’s health care by the current Republican administration, asserts Nicole Safar, public policy director with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin.

The pro-choice group joined nine other groups, including the Wisconsin Medical Society, the Wisconsin Public Health Association and the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, in opposing the bill. The three groups who lobbied in favor of the bill are Wisconsin Right to Life, Pro-Life Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Catholic Conference….”

3 ways the bill alters WI law:

1. “The first would require doctors to speak alone and in person with a woman seeking an abortion and to inform her of services for victims of domestic abuse if they believe she’s being coerced into seeking an abortion. ..”

2. “The bill also eliminates the possibility of what are called webcam abortions from being performed in Wisconsin by requiring doctors to examine patients in person before prescribing abortion-inducing drugs like mifepristone. ..”

3.”The bill also would require a woman to return to an abortion clinic for a follow-up visit 12 to 18 days after being given the drug. ..”

Read more at Capitol Report: Bill to prevent webcam abortions up for vote in Senate 

Wisconsin Bill AB 371 Adds Complications and Felony Penalty to Abortions

Yesterday, February 8, 2012, the Wisconsin Assembly Health Committee convened. One of the items discussed was Assembly Bill 371. This particular bill has long been touted by Rep. Michelle Litjens and “right to life” groups. I wrote about this particular bill before it had been written. My post from last August can be found here. There is just so much wrong with this bill, it’s hard to know where to start. This post won’t go into too many details on so called “web cam” abortions because my previous post covered that topic in detail.

This bill isn’t about safe and accessible health care for women. It seeks to restrict access to abortions and goes directly against standard health care practices. Do our legislators believe they know medicine and psychology better than trained doctors and counselors? Does it make sense for law makers to legislate medical practices? We should leave medical treatment to the professionals.

This bill also implies that woman are unwilling or unable to make good decisions for themselves. I find that idea offensive and condescending. Women can and do make sound decisions for themselves every day. These women will have to live with her decision whether or not she decides to carry the pregnancy to term and need to be aware of all options available to them.

Michelle Litjens says her main concern is for women to have the ability to say “no” to an abortion if they are coerced. There was a lot of talk about “voluntary consent” at the meeting yesterday and proponents wax poetic on how women had abortions because they felt threatened. They feel that if women have a few minutes alone with a doctor they will suddenly feel “safe” and blurt out they feel threatened and don’t want the abortion. I really don’t see that happening. No law can make anyone tell the truth about their situation and doctor’s aren’t mind readers. They can’t tell when a patient lies to them. The law will take away a woman’s support system when she’s feeling the most vulnerable.

I could see this clause as being abused by anti-choice doctors to coerce the woman into not having an abortion. There is no set amount of time allotted for these doctor and patient one on ones. In theory, an anti-choice doctor can keep up a “private session” until the patient states they no longer want the procedure. Many “pro-life” people will stop at nothing to prevent women from having an abortion. This seems to smack of supposed “right to life” groups saying “it’s not coercion if we do it”.

One example that was brought up is a woman felt threatened if the father of the fetus said “I’ll break up with you if you don’t have the abortion”. Think about it for a second. Nothing the law says will change what he will do if she continues the pregnancy.

This bill provides two areas where physicians can be imposed penalties. One area is in the “voluntary consent” section and the other area deals with abortion-inducing drugs. A doctor could be fined up to $10,000 for violating the new definition of “voluntary consent”. The penalty for not following the “abortion-inducing” drugs clause of this bill is a class I penalty. The bill states:

253.105 Prescription and use of abortion-inducing drugs. (1) In this 
16section:
17(a) “Abortion” has the meaning given in s. 253.10 (2) (a).
18(b) “Abortion-inducing drug” has the meaning given in s. 253.10 (2) (am).
19(c) “Physician” has the meaning given in s. 448.01 (5).
20(2) No person may give an abortion-inducing drug to a woman unless the 
21physician who prescribed, or otherwise provided, the abortion-inducing drug for the 
22woman:
23(a) Performs a physical exam of the woman before the information is provided 
24under s. 253.10 (3) (c) 1.
25(b) Is physically present in the room when the drug is given to the woman.

1(3) Penalty. Any person who violates sub. (2) is guilty of a Class I felony. No 
2penalty may be assessed against a woman to whom an abortion-inducing drug is 
3given.
This is the part of the bill that would prohibit so called “webcam abortions”. The only state that allows this is Iowa. In a December 13, 2011 Cap Times article,

“But Lisa Subeck, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, said the practice has so far been restricted to Iowa, and has been found to have comparable outcomes to conventional procedures. (Here’s an ABC news story about Iowa’s telemedicine procedure.) And it could be a way to extend needed medical services in a state like Wisconsin, where 94 percent of the counties have no abortion providers.”

So called “webcam abortions” could make it easier women in rural areas to get safe, doctor supervised abortions. The health and well being of the woman should come first. Are we going to make all remote care illegal or does this type of law only apply to abortions? Would we even consider charging a doctor with a felony if let’s say a doctor of neurology was working in conjunction with a local physician via webcam to treat a patient? Health care is only as good as your access to it. We could have the best health care in the world, but that doesn’t mean anything if a majority of people can’t access it. Let’s try to increase access to all forms of treatment.

Physicians will also face civil penalties for a medically approved practice. An item that caught my attention is the father can sue the doctor for civil penalties except if the pregnancy was caused by a sexual assault.

“(4) Civil remedies. (a) Any of the following persons has a claim against a 
5person who intentionally or recklessly violates sub. (2):
103. The father of the unborn child aborted as the result of an abortion-inducing 
11drug given in violation of sub. (2), unless the pregnancy of the person to whom the 
12abortion-inducing drug was given was the result of sexual assault in violation of s. 
13940.225, 944.06, 948.02, 948.025, 948.06, 948.085, or 948.09 and the violation was 
14committed by the father.

First off, most rapes are never reported. Most women are hesitant to report being raped and even less willing to do so when the person who assaulted them is their husband or significant other.

Second, there could be a problem identifying who the “father of the unborn child” is. Many times, paternity is unknown until testing is done. Are we going to have to start doing paternity tests before abortions are performed? Are doctors and/or their malpractice insurers going to start requiring these tests in order to prevent a lawsuit? If that’s the case, then women won’t be allowed to have abortions until they are at least 10 weeks into their pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, paternity tests can be done as early as 10 weeks into the pregnancy. This could lead to expensive and unnecessary medical procedures being performed.

The bill also requires that the woman has to go back to the same clinic for follow up care.

Section 3. 253.10 (3) (c) 1. hm. of the statutes is created to read:
7253.10 (3) (c) 1. hm. If the abortion is induced by an abortion-inducing drug, 
8that the woman must return to the abortion facility for a follow-up visit 12 to 18 days 
9after the use of an abortion-inducing drug to confirm the termination of the 
10pregnancy and evaluate the woman’s medical condition.

Many women have to travel several hours to get to a clinic that provides abortions. This places an unnecessary burden on her. Follow up care could be provided by a local doctor. This type of thing happens a lot in medicine. Many people go to walk in clinics for non life threatening illnesses and injuries because they need medical help outside of office hours. Follow up care can then be provided by their general practitioner. The main concern should be that the woman receive follow up care, not who performs it. Do we want to mandate which doctors a woman can see for follow up care? Shouldn’t that decision be left to the patient?

This bill has left me with more questions than answers and this post doesn’t go into all of the possible negative impacts if this bill becomes a law. Do we want to penalize doctors for doing their jobs? Why would we outlaw a medical procedure that isn’t even being performed here? Do we need a law stating where a woman can receive follow up care after an abortion? Common sense tells doctors they need to look for symptoms of abuse. You can encourage an abused person to seek help, but you can’t force them to take it and you can never force someone to tell the truth. No amount of legislation will make an abused person even admit to the abuse, much less get out of their abusive situation. Let’s not try to legislate the unnecessary or impossible. On a final note, wouldn’t it be great if these “right to life” people put as much time,energy and passion into helping the children already born as they put into their anti-choice agenda?

“Women’s Protection Act” Protects Women From What?

State Assemblywoman Michelle Litjens WI and State Senator Mary Lazich have teamed up to coauthor the “Women’s Protection Act”. It’s creating quite a stir, even before it’s been introduced. I have not found the actual text of the document, but did find information about the bill at both theWisconsin Right to Life web site and at the web site for St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Baraboo, WI.

Here’s what proponents say the act will do:
“The Woman’s Protection Act will save the lives of babies and protect the health of women. Sponsored by Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) and Representative Michelle Litjens (R-Oshkosh), the Woman’s Protection Act will do the following:
Require abortionists to tell a woman seeking abortion that no one can coerce her to abort and assist pregnant women in abusive situations to find help.
Prohibit web-cam RU-486 chemical abortions.
Require that a woman seeking an abortion be shown an ultrasound of her unborn child.
Require abortion clinics to be regulated; Currently, abortion clinics are unregulated”

The first bullet point says all doctors who perform abortions will be required to “tell a woman seeking abortion that no one can coerce her to abort and assist pregnant women in abusive situations to find help”.
First off, I have a couple of questions. Does anyone really believe it’s mainly abused women who seek abortions? Is requesting an abortion going to become part of a checklist that health care agencies must follow when reporting suspected abuse? Outside forces play a role her decision, but the ultimate decision is her own.

“Voluntary consent” is a current requirement before obtaining abortion services and is defined as follows: Consent under this section to an abortion is voluntary only if the consent is given freely and without coercion by any person.”

I believe women need to be reminded that no one can coerce them into doing anything they don’t want to do. This includes coercing a woman to carry any pregnancy to term that she doesn’t want. While there are no bad times to tell a woman it’s alright to leave an abusive relationship, simply having a woman request an abortion is not an indicator of abuse.

Second bullet point is “Prohibit web-cam RU-486 chemical abortions”. There are a limited number of medical centers that perform abortions. Some women have to travel great lengths to get access to abortion services. These same women frequently have a family planning clinic that is closer. This would be the clinic she goes to for her normal family planning needs. Rural areas in particular are sorely lacking medical options that are close to home. Something like this could open doors for women to get more accessible health care. Some women may be unable to get to a distant abortion clinic for a number of reasons, including not having transportation or not being able to get the time off of work.

Planned Parenthood in Ohio has started using a method called “telemedicine”. From the ABC news article:

“A woman seeking an abortion via telemedicine has an ultrasound performed by a trained technician, receives information about medical abortion and signs a standard informed consent for the abortion.
Once that is complete, a physician steps in via teleconference. The doctor reviews the woman’s medical history and ultrasound images, and once it is determined that she is eligible — up to nine weeks pregnant and not an ectopic pregnancy — she has time to ask questions.
Then, the doctor enters a computer passcode to remotely open a drawer at the clinic containing two pills. She then swallows the mifepristone, under the doctor’s supervision, and then is instructed to take four additional tablets of misoprostol within the next 24 to 48 hours. The actual abortion happens at home.”
Opponents of this procedure claim women aren’t getting the health care and after care they need. Again from the article.
“Generally, during the actual expulsion, it’s like a miscarriage,” said Grossman. “It can be painful, but it can be easily controlled with oral pain medications. Women come back for a follow-up a week or two later to have an ultrasound to confirm that the abortion is complete.”

The third item the proposed bill will “Require that a woman seeking an abortion be shown an ultrasound of her unborn child.” Why should they be forced to look at an ultrasound image if they don’t want to? Having an ultrasound image available is part of “informed consent” as per Wisconsin statute 253.10 which states:

“That fetal ultrasound imaging and auscultation of fetal heart tone services are available that enable a pregnant woman to view the image or hear the heartbeat of her unborn child. In so informing the woman and describing these services, the physician shall advise the woman as to how she may obtain these services if she desires to do so.”

The last bullet point states “Require abortion clinics to be regulated; Currently, abortion clinics are unregulated”. Medical centers are regulated and abortion services are highly regulated. There are many requirements that have to be met before a woman can have an abortion. I won’t go into them all because it’s too lengthy for this post. Go here to look at the current hoops women and the clinics that provide abortions must go through before an abortion may legally be performed.

I hope the actual text of this proposed “Women’s Protection Act” is released to the public soon. There are too many details that need to be filled in. Just saying we’re going to regulate abortion clinics because they’re not regulated now doesn’t really mean anything. What specifically needs to be regulated? Medical clinics are already regulated. A lot of information to the patient is covered by “informed and voluntary consent”. If a woman doesn’t know exactly what she’s consenting to by the time they finish the checklist, she’s not paying attention.

Pro-life people believe in choice as long as the option chosen is continuing a pregnancy. Fully functioning, adult women chose to end their pregnancies every day because of a variety of reasons. Ultimately it’s the woman’s decision to either have a child or not. This choice is hers and hers alone and no one should take that choice from her.

Grab bag of blogging, Dec 1: High-speed rail | Republican recipes | NYTimes studies Palin | Die already, DADT | Melee at Isthmus

What’s up with Wisconsin’s rail?: This haunts me. Madison’s Mayor and Common Council President Mark Clear have told the city’s Economic Development Committee to keep its mouth shut and let the mayor diplomatically broach the subject of high-speed rail with Gov-Elect Scott Walker.  And by “diplomatically broach” I mean wait around for Scott Walker to meet with him. I agree with Julie Stone who says: “I think we’re losing a battle of publicity, not politics.”

And what are those Republicans cooking up?: Jack Craver of Isthmus lists 8 actions Wisconsin Republicans will likely implement with their total control. None of which looks capable of creating 250,000 jobs. Representative Jon Richards of Milwaukee went on Public Radio and pledged to keep Republicans to their knitting: ““It’s been a little troubling to hear that one of the first things they’re doing is trying to derail the high speed train project that’s expected to create 5,000 jobs in Wisconsin. That also should be part of the agenda to make sure that project is on track so we keep those jobs in Wisconsin.

Repubs are surely coming in demanding photo I.D. voter registration requirements. I fear eventually they will turn their attentions to the Pro-Life Wisconsin agenda:  opposing abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk, halting embryonic stem cell research, and opposing any artificial birth control.

Palin still here?: New York Times figured out Palin just won’t die or go away, so they did an exhaustive 7 pager on her. We learn that Palin is too secretive and controlling for her own good, she’s an organism hated as much by the Republicans as by me, and she’s rented office space in Iowa — prepping for primary action in 2012.

Cut the DADT crap already: President Obama calls on Senate to act ASAP and repeal “Don’t ask don’t tell” so he can sign it into law. From the study: “We have a gay guy. He’s big, he’s mean and he kills lots of bad guys. No one cared that he was gay,”-quoted member of special operations force.

Gentlemen, start your melee!: Bill Leuders, Dave Blaska, and Jack Craver had a spirited discussion at David Blaska is not telling the truth. I see even Emily Mills popped in! Afterward, I hope they had a beer together.

Various-Mostly on Scott Walker and Abortion

Update on Cheddarcast #2: I think I was just too rambling on that. It’s quite a challenge to put in minimal effort and still churn out decent video.

It might be great fun to just make propagandist ads.

For example, what if that ominous ad voice said
“Tom Barrett defends women.
Conservatives stomp women.”

“Tom Barrett defended a grandmother against a man wielding a tire iron, risking his own life.
But conservatives….
Conservatives stomp women.”
[roll the footage of the Kentucky stomp]

[yup. now roll that slower…slower….close-in on the stomp….]

“Conservatives. ”

[add some reverb]

“Stoommmmp
WOMEN”

[and show a slow-mo of the wig twirling and hitting the sidewalk.]

But in all seriousness, though it may be quite irrelevant to how a person conducts himself in public office, I felt really proud of Tom Barrett when he put himself at risk defending a woman in Milwaukee. Surely a savvy advertising exec could have rolled the Kentucky stomp, Barrett’s protective act, and Barrett’s pro-choice politics into something that resonates.

Here’s his real ad called “Stand Up” describing Tom’s protective role in the altercation.

And here’s a Huffington Post article with video

As for the Kentucky stomping, I wanted Rand Paul to give a moving apology, which he did not. And I read that Tim Proffit demanded an apology from the MoveOn.org protester he did tread upon.

Kentucky stomp of MoveOn.org protestor footage at DailyKos.

Stomper Tim Proffit refuses to apologize and demands apology for himself instead.

WISN.COM reported on this “controversial ad” in the Barrett/Walker race for governor of Wisconsin. Which I can not find in its original format for some reason. The father of a rape victim says “Who is Scott Walker to play God with my family.” – this uttered in response to Walker’s stand that abortion is not an option even in the case of rape.

With that, time’s up. More links are below:

PPAWI.org sponsored this ad on Walker’s extremely conservative stance on abortion, contraception, and embryonic stem cell research. Oh, and he’s anti-Badgercare.

Jack Craver AKA “The Sconz” of Isthmus scratches head over blase Democratic response to Walker’s virulent anti-abortion position.

Faithful Progressive and great IVF post.

Women for Walker. Seriously???

WI Court upholds discipline of pharmacist

TIME story on the contraceptive-withholding pharmacist Neil Noesen.