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Coerced-abortion Prevention Bill Advances In Wisconsin

This story was written by Charles Brace, The Daily Cardinal

The state Assembly passed a bill Tuesday aimed at preventing coerced abortions, though some of its detractors say the bill is political grandstanding.

AB 427, the Coercive Abortion Prevention Act, passed the Republican-controlled Assembly 65 to 32, with all 52 Assembly Republicans and 13 Democrats voting for the legislation.

State Rep. Mark Gundrum, R-New Berlin, and state Rep. Pat Strachota, R-West Bend, authored the Assembly version of the bill.

Under current Wisconsin law, a woman must give voluntary and informed consent before an abortion is performed. The bill would require a doctor to make sure the consent is indeed voluntary and not coerced, providing women with information on domestic abuse services if needed.

State Sen. Carol Roessler, R-Oshkosh, co-sponsored the bill and said she hopes it will pass the Democrat-controlled Senate in a bipartisan fashion, the way it passed the Assembly.

"Anyone who coerces someone into an abortion absolutely needs to be held accountable," Roessler said.

Roessler said the legislation is needed to protect women from the financial or emotional abuse that could be used to force someone to undergo an abortion.

Kelda Helen Roys, executive director for the abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, said the bill does not put any new requirements on doctors and is unnecessary since consent is already legally required to perform an abortion.

"This bill is a cynical attempt to score political points with those who want to criminalize abortion," Roys said.

The anti-abortion group Wisconsin Right to Life said in a statement the bill is needed to address the "growing problem of forced abortions."

According to WRL, The Medical Science Monitor found that in the United States, 64 percent of women who had an abortion in 2004 felt pressured into it.

Roys said there is no evidence that coerced abortions are a growing problem and the best way to keep the number of abortions low is to keep abortion legal.
© 2007 The Daily Cardinal via U-WIRE

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