Recently, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Editorial Board interviewed Senate Leader Chris Larson on several issues, the first being abortion. The issue of contention is over a Republican sponsored bill that would require women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound prior to the procedure. From the onset, it seemed fairly clear the freshman Senator was swinging outside his power zone.
Larson used several arguments to oppose the Republican bill, each of them were flawed to varying degrees. Ironically, the best argument he could of made was entirely neglected.
Larson’s first line of attack focused on Governor Scott Walker’s support for the bill and subsequent pledge to sign it into law. Larson went after the Governor claiming it’s easy to find no problems with mandating ultrasounds when Walker will never be subjected to such a procedure. Relatedly, Larson accused sponsors of the bill for presuming women aren’t intelligent enough to make these decisions on their own. He also reinforced a 2012 election mantra that Republicans were at war with women. Already, there are several problems with Larson’s initial response.
First, using a gender-based argument to oppose a required ultrasound is especially problematic when the head sponsor of the bill is a female legislator. Does Larson believe that women are waging war against themselves? The governor’s gender is immaterial for one important reason — bills should be debated on merits, not on the chromosomes of those signing them into law.
Second, there is a conceptual difference between being intelligent and being informed as a decision maker. Requiring an ultrasound so a mother can see what’s being removed makes no presumptions about her IQ or her capacity to make decisions. The doctor is not arguing with her or persuading her that she’s making a mistake, but giving her a fuller glimpse of what she’s doing.
If the fetus is seen as disposable tissue, then viewing an ultrasound should be no different than a neurosurgeon showing a patient a CAT scan before removing a deteriorated disc. The surgeon is not questioning the patient’s intelligence, but being thorough?
The real fear, for Democrats, is that the mother isn’t fully committed to having an abortion — that she may come to a greater realization that the fetus in her womb is more than just disposable tissue, but something far more meaningful.
Larson makes two other points worth noting. He criticizes the ultrasound mandate since Republicans didn’t debate abortion last year. Larson thinks Republicans are being disingenuous. Again, this is a red herring. Republican motives have nothing to do with the merits of the bill. Furthermore, there is also no unwritten rule that the scope of creating law must be contained to the content of campaign debates. If they were, it would bring a whole new meaning to the role of debate moderators as agents of creating law. If we held legislators to this stringent standard, both parties would be “the party of no.”
Larson’s last argument will likely be a significant talking point for Democrats in the next gubernatorial election. He says Republicans are passing abortion bills instead of focusing on job creation. This point could be an annoying prick in the side of Republicans as the Wisconsin continues to struggle on the job creation front.
Besides being a red herring like the others, it presumes that a legislative body cannot multitask. For instance, Republican Legislator Dale Kooyenga – who is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) – has proposed a sweeping tax reform bill that would arguably spur job creation by lowing income and property taxes. It shouldn’t be surprising that the State Legislature can talk and chew bubblegum at the same time. Passing an abortion bill doesn’t mean nobody is working on job creation.
Most interestingly, Larson passed up on the best argument. Democrats have recently argued that legislators shouldn’t be in the business of practicing medicine, that they should leave medically relevant decisions to professionals in the medical community.
The argument has a certain prima facia appeal, but it’s still flawed. Like everything else, the practice of medicine is governed by law and for good reason. Consider a baby born after a botched abortion who is desperately struggling to live. Representatives of Planned Parenthood have testified before Congress that the fate of the child should remain between the patient and the health care provider. Question: if a baby is born alive, doesn’t the doctor have two patients? Who decides, the doctor or a legislative body? My bet is with the latter.
Child euthanasia: It’s all over but the final voting in Belgium as the Parliament agrees across party lines that doctors should be able to euthanize children. From the Presseurop story:
“In the wake of several months of testimony from doctors and experts in medical ethics, a Belgian Senate committee will on June 12 examine the possible extension of the country’s euthanasia law to include children. ‘On both sides of the linguistic border, liberals and socialists appear to agree on the fact that age should not be regarded as a decisive criteria in the event of a request for euthanasia,’ De Morgen. They want doctors to decide on a minor’s capacity for discernment on a case by case basis.”
Treating a child like a sick horse is what passes for “compassion” these days.
The top legislative priority of Wisconsin Right to Life this year was enactment of a law to require ultrasound prior to an abortion. Authored by Senator Mary Lazich and Rep. Pat Strachota, we are thrilled to report that the state legislature has passed this bill which will be signed into law by Governor Walker.
Known as Sonya’s Law, the new law requires that a woman seeking an abortion have an ultrasound 24 hours prior to the abortion being performed. She will be able to view her unborn child and see her baby’s heartbeat on ultrasound. A verbal description of what she sees on the screen will be given to her. She has the ability to turn away from the screen if she chooses. She also can choose the type of ultrasound after all options are explained to her.
Another provision in this important law requires that the person performing the abortion have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility. This important provision, which protects women’s safety and health, caused Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin to announce it would have to close its abortion clinic in Appleton.
Going into this debate, it was well known that proponents of abortion hate ultrasounds and ultrasound laws. That came through vividly in debate at public hearings and in both houses of the legislature. Pro-abortion legislators were fixated on female body parts and distortions of the impact of the new law. Fortunately, reason prevailed and the true nature of the law came through.
Sonya’s Law will certainly minimize the experiences of post-abortion women, heard over and over, who were told their babies were blobs of tissue. As stated by Senator Lazich, this law is a true victory for full information for women.
Wisconsin Right to Life is extremely grateful to Sonya who came forward to tell her story. Sonya, the mother of two young children, considered abortion until she saw a bus sign advertising free ultrasounds. After seeing her baby’s heartbeat on ultrasound, Sonya fell in love with her baby and knew she had to give birth. Sonya is a true hero for women like her and the babies that will be saved. Four other women provided heartwarming stories of how ultrasound convinced them to have their babies.
Also assisting with passage of Sonya’s Law were several physicians, Pregnancy Help Centers, sonographers and public relations volunteers. Their invaluable assistance ensured accurate and complete information and excellent messaging. It is a good time for Wisconsin women and their babies!
“We stand with women who want to make a truly informed decision.”
– Senator Mary Lazich, author of Sonya’s Law
Wisconsin Right to Life today is hailing the passage of Senate Bill 206 (Sonya’s Law) in the State Senate.
“Wisconsin Right to Life is deeply appreciative to Senator Mary Lazich for her tremendous leadership on this issue and to the members of the State Senate who voted for this important legislation,” said Susan Armacost, Legislative Director for Wisconsin Right to Life.
Senate bill 206 (Sonya’s Law) is legislation that provides a baby with the opportunity for his mother to see him through ultrasound before his mother makes a choice about how to proceed with her pregnancy. The woman can choose the type of ultrasound after all options are explained to her. The ultrasound helps to determine the age of the baby.
Sonya, mother of two children, learned she was pregnant with her third child this past November. Sonya was stunned – how could this be?
She had taken precautions — but now she was pregnant. Sonya worried about howshe could handle another child, emotionally and financially. She seriously thought about abortion.
Sonya saw a Milwaukee transit bus ad about a free ultrasound and decided tohave one. Shelearned she was seven weeks pregnant. Once she saw her child and realized his heart wasbeating,Sonya made an emotional connection with herbaby andmade the decision to carry him to term. Sonya will deliver a baby boy in July.
“In spite of the blatant misinformation being promoted by the opponents of Sonya’s Law, this legislation does not force women to have a specific type of ultrasound, said Armacost. “It is up to the women to choose the type of ultrasound she prefers, after all options are explained to her. The actual language of the law states: ‘perform an obstetric ultrasound on the pregnant woman, using whichever transducer the woman chooses after the options have been explained to her.’”
“During the floor debate, Senator Lazich eloquently summed up why Sonya’s Law is so greatly needed,” said Armacost. “She said, ‘We stand with women who want to make a truly informed decision.’”
“Wisconsin Right to Life stands with Senator Lazich and with Representative Pat Strachota, the Assembly author of Sonya’s Law, in their efforts to empower women in making decisions regarding how to proceed with their pregnancies.”
Sonya, mother of two children, learned she was pregnant with her third child this past November. Sonya was stunned – how could this be? She had taken precautions — but now she was pregnant. Sonya worried about how she could handle another child, emotionally and financially. She seriously thought about abortion.
Sonya saw a bus ad about a free ultrasound and decided to have one. She learned she was seven weeks pregnant. Once she saw her child and realized his heart was beating, Sonya made an emotional connection with her baby and made the decision to carry him to term. Sonya will deliver a baby boy in July.
The state legislature is likely to take up Sonya’s Law, legislation which provides a baby with the opportunity for his mother to see him through ultrasound before his mother makes a choice about how to proceed with her pregnancy. Under Sonya’s Law, the woman can choose the type of ultrasound after all options are explained to her. The ultrasound helps to determine the age of the baby.
Questions raised by opponents can be responded to as follows:
Will Sonya’s Law force women to have a specific type of ultrasound?
No. It is up to the woman to choose the type of ultrasound she prefers after all options are explained to her. The actual language in Sonya’s Law states:
“…perform an obstetric ultrasound on the pregnant woman, using whichever transducer the woman chooses after the options have been explained to her.”
Sonya’s Law would also allow for a woman to visualize the heartbeat of her child during the ultrasound.
In other states, based to some degree on language in proposed legislation, opponents of laws like Sonya’s Law have claimed that the bill requires a specific type of ultrasound. This is not true in Wisconsin’s proposed law.
Why does Sonya’s Law require a medical procedure?
Sonya’s Law is designed to let the woman have full information about her child before she makes a choice on her pregnancy.
It is common practice for abortion clinics to perform ultrasounds for medical reasons to determine how far along a woman is in her pregnancy. In most cases, they do not offer to let the woman see the ultrasound image.
Does the ultrasound increase the cost of the abortion?
Not usually. Ultrasound is generally included in the abortion cost. Sonya’s Law will provide information on where a woman can receive a free ultrasound if one is not available from the abortion clinic.
What other provisions does Sonya’s Law have to provide safety to women?
Sonya’s Law requires the person performing the abortion to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility. This provision protects women who need hospital treatment if there are complications from the abortion.
It is time for Wisconsin to enact Sonya’s Law to help women connect with their own babies, and provide new safety measures for them.
Yesterday I testified before the Assembly Health Committee in favor of AB 216 which has two provisions. The first provision prohibits the use of public funds to pay for abortion coverage for public employees. The Health Care Conscience Act includes public employees under provisions of current law (s.20.927) that prohibit the use public funds to pay a physician or surgeon or hospital, clinic or other medical facility for the performance of an abortion except in certain cases specified in current law.
Wisconsin currently pays for abortion coverage for public employees for any reason, at any stage of pregnancy. Eighteen states do not allow abortion coverage in insurance plans for public employees. Federal employee health care plans do not cover abortions by action of Congress.
Wisconsin currently prohibits payment for abortions of Medicaid recipients and will not provide abortion coverage under the health insurance exchanges set up under the federal health care law. This provision of AB 216 provides equity so that taxpayers are not funding abortions for any group of people in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Right to Life urged the state legislature to join those 18 states and the Congress by voting to prohibit abortion coverage for public employees.
The second provision exempts certain religious organizations, employers and institutions of higher learning from the mandate to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs. Current state law mandates that employers provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs through health insurance policies sold in Wisconsin. This mandate violates the conscience rights of many employers and religious institutions who, on religious grounds, object to providing insurance coverage for the destruction of human life. The only way an employer or religious institution can avoid this onerous mandate is to self-insure. Self-insurance is not an acceptable solution because it is expensive to implement and can result in reduced coverage and increased costs for employees.
The Health Care Conscience Act exempts the coverage of abortion-inducing and other drugs from an insurer that issues group health insurance plans to a religious organization, religious employer or religious institution of higher learning that meets the bill’s criteria. Wisconsin Right to Life urged the legislature to provide this conscience relief for these individuals and entities
Yesterday, I testified before the Assembly Health Committee in favor of AB 217, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act. The main provision of AB 217 is: “No person shall intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion with knowledge that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion on account of the sex of the unborn child.” Sex- selection abortion is used to prevent the birth of a child solely based on the gender of the unborn child. The victims of these abortions are overwhelmingly female which is the ultimate gender discrimination.
Sex-election abortion is rampant in some Asian nations, especially China and India, where male children are widely preferred over females. But it has spread to other continents and is now practiced here in the United States. Multiple academic papers have put forward evidence that the practice of sex-selection abortion is increasing in the United States especially, although not exclusively, within communities of immigrants from Asia.
For example, a study by researchers at the University of Connecticut, published in Prenatal Diagnosis in March 2011, concluded “The male to female live birth sex ratio in the United States exceeded expected biological variation for third+ births to Chinese, Asian Indians and Koreans, strongly suggesting prenatal sex selection.”
Dr. Sunita Puri and three other researchers at the University of California interviewed “65 immigrant women in the United States who had pursued fetal sex selection.” They wrote, “We found that 40% of the women interviewed had terminated prior pregnancies with female fetuses and 89% of women carrying female fetuses in their current pregnancy pursued an abortion.”
The United States is the only industrialized country that has not banned abortions based solely on the sex of a child. Wisconsin must reject the notion that it is acceptable to abort a little unborn girl, merely because she is a girl. The escalating war on baby girls must be stopped in its tracks.
Americans were shocked at the murders of innocent babies and other crimes of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell. They’re glad he’s going to prison and won’t ever be able to kill another baby, inside or outside the womb.
But if you think that ends the atrocities, think again.
The tragic reality is that there may be other Gosnells in your own state or community. History tells us wherever late abortions occur, there’s a heightened risk of the killing or neglect of babies born alive, and of medical dangers to their mothers.
• For example, Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst recently called for an investigation of multiple allegations that Houston abortionist Douglas Karpen delivered live babies during late abortions and killed them by twisting their heads off their little necks.
• LeRoy Carhart, who sued in the U.S. Supreme Court for his “right” to commit partial-birth abortions (now illegal), moved his late abortion practice from Nebraska to Maryland, a state where he can perform late abortions with impunity. A patient of his recently died after requiring emergency treatment at a nearby hospital, and according to a new undercover video tape by the group Live Action, Carhart describes how a baby he aborts softens like “meat in a Crock-Pot.”
• Gosnell didn’t just do abortions at his Philadelphia facility; he also worked at an abortion clinic in Delaware. There, abortionists Albert Dworkin and Arturo Apolinario had their licenses temporarily suspended, and Apolinario is reportedly charged with a crime similar to what first brought Gosnell to the attention of federal authorities – illegally prescribing drugs.
• James Pendergraft is known to Floridians and Virginians for a long and sordid history, including a criminal conviction and having his medical license suspended in Florida four times. But he reportedly has kept his abortion clinics operating by hiring other abortionists to continue performing late abortions. He lost a court decision in 2011 in which a jury awarded $36.7 million for injuries in an abortion in which a baby girl was born alive, but has suffered life-long handicaps. Lifesitenews reported that a witness to the trial said a clinic staffer “cavalierly stated that yes, babies were delivered into the toilet all the time and many times are still alive, wiggling around in the toilet.”
This list goes on and on. It’s time it stopped!
National Right to Life has helped create and pass effective laws in nine states that stop the abuse of elective late abortions. The laws are called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and they ban elective abortions at the stage when compelling medical evidence shows an unborn baby can feel pain.
When our law was passed in its first state, Nebraska, it stopped LeRoy Carhart from doing late abortions there. But tragically, he simply packed up his deadly instruments and began performing abortions in another state.
The lesson is these late abortions won’t end until we outlaw them everywhere!
That’s why we are so excited to announce that U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) is authoring a bill that will ban these abortions nationwide when a baby is capable of feeling pain, generally said to be before 20 weeks in the womb. The first hearing on what will become the nationwide Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 1797) will be held Thursday, May 23rd at 10:00 a.m.in the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. Please help support this law.
The final week of the political path to death with dignity in Vermont was a reminder of how a cadre of politicians can want something so desperately that they push it through even if abandoning key promises.
For months — no, for years — Vermonters have been told that Oregon’s experience of physician-assisted suicide has demonstrated that extending this compassionate option to persons who want it comes at no risk to the vulnerable.
The mantra has been Oregon. Oregon protections. Oregon data. Everything has worked flawlessly in Oregon, so if we follow the exact model as Oregon, we can ignore the fears of the naysayers.
When the Senate was short one vote in February to pass the Oregon model, it sent a narrow bill to the House that focused instead on independent actions of a patient rather than on prescriptions for intentionally lethal medication. It was roundly criticized for lacking the protections of the Oregon bill.
The House restored the Oregon, active-prescription version. Proponents were emphatic on the House floor that it was because every one of the Oregon protections were locked into place that members could be assured there could be no coercion, no errors in diagnosis, and no one making the choice lacking full informed consent.
When it pingponged back, the Senate still couldn’t muster the votes to pass it. So a few backers patched and pasted an assorted set of new and old language together directed exclusively at gaining the one extra vote needed.
Gone were both the Oregon model and any model that left the doctor out of the role of prescribing lethal drugs. Enter the land of political Oz.
Sen. Claire Ayer, who had been the most vigorous in attacking what the Senate had passed via a floor amendment in February, now pressed for the new hybrid, though acknowledging that it was drafted “on the fly.”
Eradicated by the Senate were fully 29 separate protective provisions that the House had required in its Oregon version, some of them small, some of them huge. Among the huge ones:
— There is no longer any written informed consent required.
— A guardian or an agent for an advance directive is no longer barred from taking the place of a direct patient request.
— There is no longer any requirement that the patient actually be able to “self-administer.”
— There is no longer a second opinion required to assess whether a patient has the rational judgment capacity to make an informed decision.
— There are no requirements for follow-up by the Department of Health. The required review of patient files is gone. The requirement to collect statistical data and publish annual reports is gone.
This last is particularly ironic, because it has been the patient information and report data from Oregon that has been the basis for assuring Vermonters that all is well in Oregon.
The new Vermont bill sunsets even the “Oregon-lite” approach in 2016, then eliminates all remaining structural protections. But there isn’t any data being required to assess how the process works in those first three years.
Despite all this, House members who wanted to see a bill pass stuck by what they had so strongly criticized before: a bill that no longer maintained many of the long-promised protections. Only a few looked twice and voted against accepting what the Senate had done. The winning vote margin dropped from 17 to 10.
Our radical new social policy that endorses having doctors write prescriptions that will kill their patients, cobbled together by just a few individuals from bits and pieces of language drafted on the fly, was passed by two votes in the Senate and 10 votes in the House.
But no, Dorothy. We’re no longer in Oregon.
Rep. Anne Donahue, a Republican from Northfield, is a member of the House Human Services Committee, which passed the Oregon-style bill on a 7-4 vote in April. She was an opponent.
The world just changed. An international consortium of scientists have announced that they have successfully cloned human beings using the process that led to Dolly the sheep. They were able to develop four cloned embryos in a dish to the ”blastocyst” stage, the point in time when an embryo can be implanted in a uterus or destroyed for stem cells. The scientists here did the latter.
This is huge news–reproduction as replication. The door is now open to the development of Brave New World technologies such as genetic engineering and the birth of cloned babies. As I wrote in my book on these issues, Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World:
“We can pursue biotechnology to treat disease and improve the human condition, while retaining sufficient humility and self-restraint to keep ourselves from endangering the intrinsic value of human life. Or, we can hubristically rush onto the very anti-human path warned against by Aldous Huxley, driven by our thirst for knowledge, vast profits, and obsession with control and vastly expanded life spans.
“These issues are too important to be ‘left to the scientists.’ Nor can we afford to allow the marketplace to determine what is right and what is wrong. The stakes are too high, the potential impact on each and every one of us too profound, to remain passive and indifferent to the decisions that are to be made. It is our duty to participate in the crucial cultural and democratic debates over biotechnology. The human future, quite literally, depends on it.”
I will write more extensively about this shortly. In the meantime, hold on to your hats–the culture wars just got more intense and divisive.