Wisconsin Senate to Vote on Abortion Ultrasound Bill

Wisconsin's state Senate will be addressing a bill Tuesday which requires women seeking an abortion to receive an ultrasound before going through with the procedure.

Senate Bill 206, sponsored by Republican Senator Mary Lazich, requires doctors to arrange an ultrasound for a woman seeking an abortion at least 24 hours before the procedure.

According to the text of the bill, while performing the ultrasound, doctors would also offer an oral description of the fetus, including describing any visible organs, as well as offer the woman the opportunity to hear the heartbeat of her child.

The bill states that the woman is not required to view the ultrasound, and a required ultrasound is waived in cases of medical emergency, or if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.

The bill has also been referred to as "Sonya's Bill," named after a woman who changed her mind about having an abortion after viewing an ultrasound of her 7-week-old baby.

Sonya, along with another woman, testified in front of the state's Senate Health and Human Services Committee last Wednesday in support of the bill, arguing that she was seriously considering aborting her third child before she saw a bus advertisement offering a free ultrasound.

According to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Sonya testified to the committee on Wednesday while carrying the child she previously contemplated aborting, saying hearing her child's heartbeat and viewing the ultrasound convinced her to keep her child.

The committee voted to approve the bill with a partisan 3-2 vote.

Those opposing the bill argue it interferes with a doctor's medical advice for the female patient seeking an abortion.

For example, the Wisconsin Medical Society, a doctors group in the state, argues that the bill interferes with the physician-patient relationship.

Additionally, the Wisconsin Medical Society objects to the provision in the bill which requires all doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges and be within 30 miles of a hospital.

"Procedures that are performed in free-standing, ambulatory care centers or in clinics around the state. In fact, we have rural places within the state where people are getting care not within 30 miles of a hospital. But yet we single out one procedure to make this a requirement," Dr. Tosha Wetterneck of WMS told the Wisconsin Public Radio News.

Additionally, Mark Grapentine, a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Medical Society, told The Pioneer Press that he believes the decision to have an abortion should be between the woman and her medical provider.

"The medical procedure should be the result of a conversation between a patient and her doctor," Grapentine told the newspaper. "That should be walled off from, especially, the legislative process."

Backing the bill, Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin), meanwhile, said the "intent of the legislation is to strengthen the informed-consent law," according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

"The ultrasound is the gold standard of medical decision-making," she said. "There are a lot of women that regret their abortion," she added, saying that she believes an ultrasound may successfully convince women to change their mind regarding their abortion.