In 2013, Wisconsin’s enactment of an ultrasound requirement and a mandate that abortion providers maintain hospital admitting privileges to facilitate timely and appropriate care for abortion complications received significant attention in the media and from abortion advocates who filed legal challenges to the new requirements.
- Wisconsin possesses an enforceable abortion prohibition should the U.S. Constitution be amended or certain U.S. Supreme Court decisions be reversed or modified.
- Wisconsin’s Attorney General has issued a statement declaring the state’s partial-birth abortion law unenforceable and finding it possibly restrictive of other abortion procedures.
- No abortion may be performed after viability unless necessary to preserve the woman’s life or health. Moreover, a physician must use the abortion method most likely to preserve the life and health of the unborn child unless that method would increase the risk to the woman.
- A physician may not perform an abortion on a woman until at least 24 hours after the woman is informed of the probable gestational age of her unborn child, the details of the proposed abortion procedure and its inherent risks, the particular medical risks of her pregnancy, her right to view an ultrasound prior to an abortion, available medical assistance benefits, the father’s legal responsibilities, and alternatives to abortion.
- The state also requires abortion providers to state in their printed materials that it is illegal for someone to coerce a woman into having an abortion.
- A physician may not perform an abortion on an unemancipated minor without the informed, written consent of one parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or sibling who is at least 25 years of age, unless the minor is the victim of rape, incest, or child abuse, there is a medical emergency, or the minor obtains a court order. Further, the law gives discretion to a psychiatrist or psychologist to waive consent based on a belief that the minor will commit suicide rather than obtain consent or seek a court order.
- Wisconsin imposes minimal health and safety requirements on abortion clinics. Further, physicians may only perform first-trimester abortions within 30 minutes travel time of a hospital.
- A law requiring that individual abortion providers must maintain admitting privileges at a local hospital is in litigation.
- Only a licensed physician may perform an abortion.
- The state has an enforceable abortion reporting law, but does not require the reporting of information to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The measure pertains to both surgical and nonsurgical abortions and requires abortion providers to report short-term complications.
- Wisconsin provides state funding for abortions for women eligible for public assistance that are directly and medically necessary to preserve the woman’s life, to prevent grave, long-lasting physical health damage to the woman, or when the pregnancy is the result of sexual assault or incest reported to law enforcement authorities.
- Generally, no state, local, or federal funds passing through the state’s pregnancy programs, projects, or services may be used to perform, promote, refer for, or counsel for abortion. However, referrals may be made if the abortion is necessary to preserve the woman’s life. Further, the law only applies to the extent it is able without losing federal funds.
- Wisconsin’s “Private Employer Health Care Purchasing Alliance,” a voluntary program for private employers, may not include coverage for abortion unless the abortion is needed to preserve the woman’s life. Further, coverage for abortions that are “medically necessary” may be obtained only by an optional rider or supplemental coverage provision that is offered and provided on an individual basis and for which an additional premium is paid. Under no circumstances is an employer required to provide coverage for abortion.
- The state prohibits abortion coverage in the state health insurance Exchange required under the federal healthcare law except in cases of life endangerment, rape, incest, or possible “grave, long-lasting physical health damage.”
- Wisconsin prohibits the use of telemedicine to administer abortion-inducing drugs and requires that such drugs be provided by physicians.
Legal Recognition and Protection of Unborn and Newly Born:
- Under Wisconsin law, the killing of an unborn child at any stage of gestation is defined as a form of homicide.
- Wisconsin defines a nonfatal assault on an unborn child as a crime.
- The state allows wrongful death (civil) actions when a viable unborn child is killed through a negligent or criminal act.
- The state has created a specific affirmative duty of physicians to provide medical care and treatment to born alive infants at any stage of development.
- Wisconsin has enacted a “Baby Moses” law, establishing a safe haven for mothers to legally leave their infants at designated places and ensuring the infants receive appropriate care and protection.
- The state defines substance abuse during pregnancy as “child abuse” under civil child- welfare statutes.
- Wisconsin does not ban human cloning, destructive embryo research, or fetal experimentation.
- Wisconsin provides funding for destructive embryo research.
- The state requires that healthcare providers offer pregnant women information on options to donate umbilical cord blood following delivery.
- Wisconsin maintains no comprehensive measures regulating human egg harvesting or assisted reproductive technologies.
End of Life Laws:
- Under Wisconsin law, assisting in a suicide is a felony.
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
Participation in Abortion and Contraception:
- A physician or other person associated with, employed by, or on staff with a hospital who objects in writing and on moral or religious grounds is not required to participate in abortions.
- A healthcare provider’s conscientious objection to participating in abortion may not be a basis for damages, discrimination in employment or education, disciplinary action, or other recriminatory action.
- An individual or entity is not required, because of the receipt of any grant, contract, or loan under state or federal law, to participate in or make its facilities available for the performance of an abortion if such action is contrary to stated religious or moral beliefs.
- A hospital’s conscientious objection, based on moral or religious grounds, to permitting or performing an abortion may not be a basis for civil damages.
- No individual or entity may be required to participate in or make its facilities available for abortion contrary to religious beliefs or moral convictions because of the receipt of any grant, contract, or loan under state or federal law.
- Wisconsin has a “contraceptive equity” requirement, meaning health insurance coverage must include coverage for contraception. No exemption is provided for employers or insurers with moral or religious objections to contraception.
may not be a basis for civil damages.
Participation in Research Harmful to Human Life:
- Wisconsin currently provides no protection for the rights of healthcare providers who conscientiously object to participation in human cloning, destructive embryo research, or other forms of medical research, which violate a provider’s moral or religious belief.
What Happened in 2013:
- Wisconsin enacted a measure requiring ultrasound before abortion and requiring individual abortion providers to maintain admitting privileges at local hospitals.
- The state considered legislation prohibiting sex-selection abortions, as well as measures regarding insurance coverage of abortions and supporting pregnancy resource centers.
Recommendations for Wisconsin
Women’s Protection Project Priorities:
- Women’s Health defense Act (5-month abortion limitation
- Women’s Health Protection Act
- Parental Involvement Enhancement Act
- Child Protection Act
- Defunding the Abortion Industry and Advancing Women’s Health Act
- Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act
- Joint Resolution Commending Pregnancy Resource Centers
Legal Recognition and Protection for the Unborn:
- Unborn Wrongful Death Act (for pre-viable child)
- Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act
- Human Cloning Prohibition Act
- Destructive Embryo Research Act
- Prohibition on Public Funding of Human Cloning and Destructive Embryo Research Act
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
- Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act