Lawmakers clashed over a bill banning webcam abortions in a Senate legislative session Tuesday before Democrats delayed a vote on the proposal.
After an hour-long debate, Senate Democrats objected to a final reading of a bill requiring doctors to physically examine a woman before giving her an abortion-inducing drug.
The objection delayed a vote on the measure for the calendar day. Lawmakers could take up the bill when the Senate reconvenes today at 9 a.m.
Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, said patient medical history and physical examinations are the cornerstones of the patient-physician relationship. She said a physician should have to perform a physical examination before prescribing an abortion-inducing drug.
“This bill provides a quality of health care for a young girl or a woman seeking an abortion, and to bypass that physical exam is way outside the norm of the health care profession,” Lazich said.
However, Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, said the bill would interfere with patient-physician relationship because it puts in place criminal felonies for not following parts of the bill. She said the Wisconsin Medical Society has come out against the bill.
Taylor also said the bill was not motivated to provide quality health care to patients, but rather was based on religious beliefs.
“This bill is strictly about criminalizing what you believe based on your faith,” Taylor said. “The problem is this chamber is not your church, it’s not your synagogue, it’s not none of that. This is political, and more than anything, an attack on the patient-physician relationship.”
However, Sen. Pam Galloway, R-Wausau, a certified surgeon specializing in the treatment of cancer, said doctors should perform a physical examination, especially with drugs that could have a negative effect on the patient’s health.
She said it would be inconceivable for a cancer patient to receive chemotherapy without an examination.
“This feature in this bill is simply a common sense measure that guarantees the safety of a procedure […] and therefore I would call seriously into question the testimony by the Wisconsin Medical Society,” Galloway said.
The bill would also require doctors to inform a woman before the procedure that she has the right to refuse an abortion and explain her consent is not voluntary if anyone is forcing her.
Taylor said the bill requires the doctor performing a procedure “to interrogate” the patient to see if her decision to get an abortion is really voluntary.
“[This bill puts] the patient on trial like a criminal in the doctor’s office,” Taylor said. “It is unnecessary, and I would argue that it is immoral.”
However, Lazich said the bill would establish a moment of privacy with the physician, so the doctor could ensure the woman is voluntarily seeking an abortion.
The Senate also spent three hours debating a proposed amendment to the state constitution allowing people the right to purchase private health care coverage and prohibiting the enactment of any law requiring people to obtain health insurance. It passed on a party-line vote.
According to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau Analysis, a resolution amending the state constitution requires passage by two successive Legislatures and a public vote. This was the first passage.