(Photo: Darren Hauck/Reuters)
A Democratic lawmaker in Wisconsin has said an expected upcoming state Senate debate on two abortion-restricting bills will inevitably result in "all out hell."
Sen. John Erpenbach (D-Middleton) said after a Senate Health and Human Services Committee meeting on Thursday that if the Republican-controlled Senate plans to take up two controversial anti-abortion bills at next Tuesday's legislative session, the last planned legislative session of the year, lawmakers from both sides can expect "all out hell" to ensue in the debate over the measures.
According to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Erpenbach was referencing a heated legislative session in June when Senate President Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) broke his gavel trying to silence the uproar from Democrats regarding a different anti-abortion law.
When asked how he thinks Tuesday's debate will go, Erpenbach told the Associated Press on Thursday that he expects "all out hell. Seriously." Erpenbach is opposed to the two anti-abortion bills being pushed by Republican lawmakers. The first bans abortions in the state based on gender selection, and the second bill, the more controversial of the two, would prohibit state health insurance from covering abortions and exempt religious employers in the state from covering the insurance costs for contraceptives for their workers.
Democrats argue that the first bill banning gender selection abortions is unnecessary since that practice is rarely used, and they object to the second bill because they argue employers shouldn't be able to determine whether a woman can access contraceptives. Supporters of the bills argue that they further protect the life of an unborn child and protect Wisconsin taxpayers from in effect having to pay for abortions, as well as protect the religious liberties of Wisconsin companies.
Before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved the two bills on Thursday, thus giving them to a full Senate debate next week, Erpenbach warned committee chairwoman, Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) that the bill on contraceptive coverage would surely garner massive criticism. He requested the committee, before approving the bills, hold a public hearing to address possible amendments to the contraceptives bill.
"You don't want this headline," Erpenbach warned, adding "You really don't. You don't want this headline, you don't want the story, you don't want the hassle that's about to happen."
Pro-life groups in the state have supported the new legislative measures, as well as others, including a bill that allows a mother to see her baby via ultrasound before deciding whether to go forward with an abortion, and requires abortion doctors to have admitting priveledges to a hospital within 30 miles of their practice.
"Wisconsin Right to Life is deeply appreciative to Representatives Pat Strachota, Andre Jacque and Steve Kestell for their outstanding leadership on these important bills," Susan Armacost, Legislative Director of Wisconsin Right to Life, a pro-life group, said in a statement in June when the three major pro-life bills were passed in the State Assembly. "We also thank those Assembly Representatives who understood the importance of these bills and voted for their passage. The big winners yesterday were Wisconsin's women, babies and taxpayers."
Pro-life groups have also hailed Republican Gov. Scott Walker for his constant pro-life voting record. Walker has voiced his approval of the two most recent pro-life pieces of legislation, among other pro-life bills since he took office in 2011. LifeNews, a pro-life media source, has described the Governor as a "champion" of the pro-life movement.