Wisconsin Senate Republicans abruptly shut off debate and moved quickly into a vote on Wednesday that approved the passage of Senate Bill 206 – a bill that, if signed into law, would mandate that women seeking an abortion would first have to undergo an ultrasound.
On Tuesday, June 11, Democrats blocked a final vote after hours of debate on this same issue. Moving into Wednesday morning with presiding Republican Senate President Mike Ellis on the WI Senate floor, only two senators, Democratic Senator Kathleen Vinehout and Republican Senator Mary Lazich, were able to speak.
Democratic Senator Kathleen Vinehout discussed the prevalence of rape and sexual assault and claimed that true intention of the bill was to close abortion clinics in Wisconsin. The bill would require that an abortion provider be in authority to admit patients to a hospital within 30 miles of where the abortions are performed. Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin said that provision would leave just three clinics in Madison and Milwaukee where abortions are performed.
Republican Senator Mary Lazich argued that women have a “right to know what they are carrying in their womb" and that the required ultrasounds would give women the “full information” they need. The bill requires detailed information be given to the woman getting the abortion. The medical professional (a doctor or an ultrasound technician) performing the abortion would be required to “display the image of the fetus, describe the size, location and number of fetuses, and identify any viewable internal organs or external features,” according to The Northwestern.
After these senators spoke, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald employed a Senate rule to cut off debate, and when he called for a vote, chaos ensued. Democratic Minority Leader Chris Larson argued for more debate, and President Ellis shouted for the vote to continue, banging his gavel so hard he broke its base.
After the vote, the bill passed 17-15. It heads next to the Assembly, then to Gov. Scott Walker who is expected to sign it into law.
Should the bill become law, Wisconsin would become the ninth state to require an ultrasound procedure before getting an abortion.