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State Senate passes ultrasound bill, Assembly is expected to follow

In a rare early-morning session Wednesday, the State Senate approved Senate Bill 206 (SB 206), which among other items requires an ultrasound for women seeking abortion services. The bill also requires that a physician orally describe what is seen during that ultrasound and that the physician have hospital privileges within 30 miles of where the services are provided. The Wisconsin Medical Society opposed SB 206 (and its companion, Assembly Bill 227) throughout the legislative process.

The State Assembly added SB 206 to its calendar for today, and although lawmakers hadn’t acted on the legislation by late afternoon, it was expected to pass on a 58-39 party-line vote with majority Republicans in favor (two representatives were absent).

SB 206 originally was part of Tuesday’s Senate calendar, but Democrats objected to having the bill read a third time (normally a little-known parliamentary step that is routinely dispensed with via unanimous consent). The objection meant that the bill could proceed no further until the next legislative day – thus, the rare 8 a.m. session Wednesday, with only SB 206 on the agenda.

When Wednesday’s session began, the emotional nature of the legislation was on full display (click here to watch the floor debate on WisconsinEye). Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) surprised many in the chamber by making a motion to end debate after just over a half-hour – leading to what Patrick Marley, a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, termed a “raucous clash.” When the dust settled, the bill passed on a 17-15 party-line vote with majority Republicans in favor (one senator was absent).

Also today, the Assembly passed Assembly Bill 216 (AB 216), which would bar any health insurance plan offered to state employees from covering abortion services as well as allow some insurance companies to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage. The Society also opposes AB 216.

Contact Mark Grapentine, JD, in the Society’s Government Relations Department with any questions.

Back to June 13, 2013 Medigram