Wisconsin Senate To Vote On ‘Born Alive’ Abortion Bill

The state Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a proposal that would penalize health care workers for failing to provide care in the rare case a baby is born alive after an attempted abortion. 

The plan was introduced and passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature during the last legislative session, but it was vetoed by Gov. Tony Evers. The reintroduced plan is likely to follow the same trajectory this session. Evers has already vetoed several GOP-backed bills related to abortion since taking office.

Under the bill, if a baby breathes, has a beating heart or shows movement of voluntary muscles following an attempted abortion, health care workers are required to provide immediate medical care and ensure the child is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital. The penalty for failing to do so would be a felony charge with a fine of up to $10,000 and up to six years in prison. 

If a child is born alive following an attempted abortion and a provider intentionally causes death, they could be sentenced to life in prison ⁠— the same penalty as first-degree intentional homicide. 

The mother of the child could not be charged with a crime under either of the circumstances.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 143 infants in the United States died after being born alive after an attempted abortion between 2003 and 2014. According to the agency, roughly 765,000 abortions were performed in the year 2010 alone.

Supporters of the plan argue it guarantees life-saving treatment for all newborn babies in Wisconsin. 

Opponents argue the measure is unnecessary because health care providers are legally and ethically bound to attempt to keep babies alive in the rare circumstance they are born alive after an attempted abortion.

The bill has yet to be voted on in the state Assembly.

Senators To Take Up Long-Delayed Confirmations Of Evers’ Cabinet Members

Senators are also scheduled to take confirmation votes Tuesday on several members of Evers’ administration. 

The cabinet members up for confirmation are state Department of Safety and Professional Services Secretary Dawn Crim; state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Randy Romanski; state Department of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation CEO Missy Hughes.

Evers appointed Crim to her role in January 2019, Romanski in November 2019, Thompson in January 2019 and Hughes in September 2019. The state Senate has the power to fire cabinet members, though it rarely does so.  

In November 2019, the Republican-controlled Senate voted to fire Brad Pfaff, Evers’ first pick to lead DATCP. It was an unusual move that highlighted the continued conflict between GOP lawmakers and the Democratic administration. According to the Legislature’s nonpartisan research office, the state Senate hadn’t fired a member of a governor’s cabinet since at least 1987 before the move. 

Following her appointment, Crim received attention in 2019 for a 2005 felony child abuse charge against her.

Other Proposals Under Consideration Include Redistricting Resolution, New Requirement For School Curriculum Posting

Other plans up for votes by the Senate on Tuesday would: 

  • Set a state policy that Wisconsin’s next set of political district maps “retain as much as possible the core of existing districts.” The Republican-backed measure has already seen sharp criticism from Democrats, who argue the existing state maps are gerrymandered and unconstitutional. The state Assembly is also scheduled to vote on the resolution Tuesday. 
  • Require school boards to make information about learning materials and educational activities used for pupil instruction available to the public. The bill is also scheduled for a vote before the state Assembly on Tuesday. 

Editor’s note: This story will be updated.