Mandatory Ultrasound Bill Moves from Conception to Passage in Just Ten Days

Senator Mary LazichIn ten short days, Wisconsin Republicans steamrolled a radical abortion bill through the state legislature to mandate ultrasounds and close abortion clinics, despite passionate opposition from Democratic Assemblywomen. The debate had many dramatic moments and video of the Senate President furiously gaveling down the opposition made national news.

The Wisconsin bill was offered by State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) a major opponent of a woman's right to choose who during the Senate debate made the shocking claim "These abortions became popular in the '60s. It was almost the thing to do. You needed to get one of them to be a woman."

Personal, Emotional Speeches Elicit Tears on Assembly Floor

SB 206, like the controversial Virginia bill that passed last year, would legally require doctors to perform an ultrasound on women seeking abortions at least 24 hours prior to the procedure, and require the doctor to describe the features of the fetus to the woman before going forward with the abortion.

"To force a physician to recite a scripted oral description of the findings if the pregnant woman declines is abusive. The proposed requirements do not make abortion safer for women, but do create unnecessary bureaucratic barriers and add both emotional and financial stress to an already difficult decision," said the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in a statement.

While the bill does not specify that the mandatory ultrasound be transvaginal, medical professionals testified that in the first trimester (when most abortions take place), it can be difficult to detect a heartbeat with an abdominal ultrasound, thus making an invasive transvaginal ultrasound mandatory. Many lawmakers and citizens expressed concern about the adverse psychological impact of a mandatory transvaginal ultrasound, particularly for women who are seeking an abortion after being the victim of a rape or after learning that their pregnancy is not viable.

Wendi Kent showing opposition to SB 206Rep. Sandy Pope told a tearful story of having to make the decision to terminate an unsuccessful pregnancy, and ended, her voice shaking, by looking across the aisle and saying "some decisions do not belong to you. You can't have them. You just can't. You can't hurt people this way... what you're doing is cruel, absolutely cruel."

Rep. Chris Taylor and Rep. Dianne Hesselbein both shared stories about the painful experience of being pregnant with twins, only to find out that one of the twins was not going to survive, and having to repeatedly view ultrasounds with images of their healthy unborn child along with the child that would not survive.

The bill states that a woman who is the victim of rape or incest is exempt from the mandatory ultrasound, but only if she reported the incident to the police. One in seven women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime and an overwhelming 81 percent of sexual assaults go unreported.

Rep. Mandy Wright described being raped when she was 8 years old by her cousin, but the sensitive situation was not reported to the police. She said even many of her friends did not know the story. Republicans nonetheless rejected an amendment to eliminate the reporting requirement.

Rep. Katrina Shankland expressed in a frustrated tone "instead of having women at the table, you have us on the menu."

Bill Would Close Planned Parenthood Clinics

SB 206 also contains a provision requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic, an onerous provision for clinics located in less-populated areas of this mostly rural state. Opponents see the provision as a blatant attempt to close a Planned Parenthood facility in Appleton, the only abortion clinic in Wisconsin outside of Madison and Milwaukee. Similar admitting privileges requirements were recently passed in Mississippi and Alabama. In Mississippi the bill would have closed the state's only abortion clinic, and both bills are currently being challenged in court.

On the same day SB 206 passed, two other bills addressing women's reproductive health were passed through the Assembly, largely overshadowed by the response to the mandatory ultrasound bill. AB 216, prohibiting Wisconsin's state health program from covering abortions and allowing religious organizations to deny contraception coverage, and AB 217 prohibiting sex-selective abortions both passed on party line votes.

Republicans Gavel Down Debate and Reject All Amendments

The Senate debate on Wednesday was marked by many dramatic moments, including a near-hysterical outburst by Senate President Mike Ellis as the vote was taken. Ellis is considered a moderate on many issues, yet may face a Tea Party primary in his reelection in 2014.

In the Assembly, thirteen amendments offered by Democrats had to be formulated quickly, with only a day between the Senate's passage of the bill and the Assembly taking it up. Most were simple additional requirements or exemptions.

In addition to the amendment ensuring that no woman would be physically forced to have an ultrasound, Democrats proposed an amendment requiring that ultrasound technicians be properly trained, that a licensed doctor read the ultrasound, that the mandated ultrasounds be covered by health insurance, a requirement of informed consent for patients, an exception for women whose fetuses have characteristics incompatible with life, and an exception for women who simply state that they have been victims of rape or incest.

Many of these amendments were introduced to address issues that Democrats felt were overlooked in the rush to pass the bill. Veteran Representative Fred Kessler said "this is the most loosely written bill I've ever seen." The Republican majority nonetheless voted unanimously to table all thirteen amendments.

Protesters Share Personal Stories

Observers covering their mouths in protest (source: Leslie Peterson)Because the bill was rushed through the legislature -- introduced on June 4, passing the Senate on June 12 and the Assembly on June 13 -- opponents didn't have much time to hear about the bill, let alone provide input or coordinate opposition. The bill had its one and only public hearing less than 48 hours after it was introduced.

Talia Froulkis quickly organized a noon rally outside the Capitol after hearing the bill passed the Senate, "I was livid," she said. "I decided to do this because I am a victim of rape, I'm a survivor of rape, and I've had to seek an abortion in my past because of that rape. If I had to have a transvaginal ultrasound I'm sure I would have felt too violated and traumatized to actually go through with the abortion that I needed because I was 16."

In addition to the rally outside, others participated in a silent protest inside the Assembly gallery. Wendi Kent, a mother who gave birth to her third daughter less than two weeks ago, came to the Capitol with her infant in her arms and duct tape over her own mouth to represent how women were being silenced.

"Legislators are making decisions that hurt me, my daughters and all other Wisconsin women. We are being silenced. We are being ignored," she said.

When debate in the Assembly began at 1pm a few dozen people sat in the gallery, many of them with tape over their mouths. They were quickly told by the Sergeant-at-Arms that they were breaking the rules of the gallery, and had to remove the tape from their mouths. Many removed the tape only to place their hands over their mouths instead.

Governor Scott Walker has indicated that he is eager to sign SB 206 into law.

"I don't have any problem with ultrasound," he told the Associated Press. "I think most people think ultrasounds are just fine."


It is simply horrifying to see what's really important, the most urgent matter, to these disgusting pigs. Just stop calling it abortion. Call it cutting off a freeloader's food stamps. Because the truth is these jerks are obsessed with punishing women for having sex, and then look for every possible reason to punish the child too, once it's born. The people behind this are insane; dangerously so. They need removed from office. What's it going to take to mobilize us all to stop these sex-obsessed control freaks?!?

so since Mary doesn't want me to choose what to do with my life & body, does that mean she will pay my medical bills to have a child my doctor thinks will be dangerous to have? And I hope she will be raising that child as well, since I physically can't! And to think, all these years, I thought I was a woman, but since I haven't had an abortion, I guess I'm NOT! Good to know! And I hope SHE is paying for the psychological care I will need after having to listen to a doctor describe what they see on the transvaginal ultrasound? GOOD! I'll send the bills to her! anyone got her address? And I guess those women who didn't report a rape to the police weren't really raped, I mean we all know that every rape is reported & rape victims are always treated really well by police & lawyers, right? So why not add another place that a rape victim could be treated badly! I'm sure the people in the 81% of unreported rapes aren't going thru enough, let's add to that by saying they will have to go thru a transvaginal ultrasound, THAT WON'T CAUSE THEM MORE PAIN, DON'T WORRY! IT WAS PROBABLY THEIR FAULT FOR BEING RAPED ANYWAY! Forget the fact that abortions are legal, let's do whatever we can to make it impossible to have one. You don't want me to have access to birth control, you are doing everything you possibly can to stop me from choosing what to do with my life/my body--but you want me to respect your right to have as many guns (which kill people as well) as you want? And what if the abortion is medically necessary? Now my insurance won't pay for that? And you won't pay for my birth control? GREAT IDEA! And they passed the bill from beginning to end in 8 days? I guess there is no real time to research this bill because they are doing to much in Wisconsin senate! That is great! I hope that Governor Scott Walker is going to have a transvaginal ultrasound, since "ultrasounds are just fine"! I had to have one for another reason, and it wasn't like the ultrasound I had when I was pregnant--IT WAS NOT JUST FINE! I guess free speech in Wisconsin is not recognized, that's a shame! So you take way my right to do what might be medically necessary, and now the Sergeant-at-Arms is not allowing women to SILENTLY PROTEST HAVING OUR RIGHTS TAKEN AWAY! I AM SO GLAD I LIVE IN A COUNTRY THAT WAS BASED ON THE FREEDOMS WE SHOULD HAVE! The GOP is all about freedoms, except when THEY don't want you to have them! SO GLAD MY GOVERNMENT RESPECTS ME! The GOP believes in the death penalty? The GOP believes you should be allowed to own an arsenal of guns that go way beyond "protection"? The GOP believes in personal freedoms? The GOP believe THEY know what is best for me, better than myself and my doctor? As long as I'm clear on the rules, I would say that as a woman, I must be too stupid to make my own decisions, but since I haven't had an abortion I'm not really a woman--Glad I know where I stand in this country! I wonder where the GOP would stand if MEN were the ones who were having abortions? Would they be legal?

I am an adopted child. My mother wanted very much to give birth to me and to raise me as her own but she was disabled due to having Polio as a young child. She was also unable to financially raise me. This was in 1950 and a woman was scorned and treated as an outcast at that time but she chose to have me and abortion was not an option. The government should stay out of this decision. There should not be any "abortion clinics" but it should be treated as any other surgical procedure--performed because it is medically necessary. Where the government should get involved is when a young girl--yes, I did not say woman, but a young girl who is told if she wants benefits she should "go home and get pregnant". Don't say this doesn't happen. It happened to my daughter! There should be Family planning and counseling funded by the government because if you are going to say it's ok to keep your baby they should be supported, financially and with counseling. My personal opinion is that there are souls that will come back to us after they die. A mother may lose a child to SIDS and may have another child born with that child's spirit. What if you decide to kill that spirit? If it is medically necessary, the doctor will agree and the abortion will need to be performed. It should be noted, though, that the doctor does not have the last word. Just as with any surgery, the patient has to agree with the doctor's advice.

This is not only disgusting but severely disturbing. These politicians are being elected too office how?? Wake up ladies! Stop listening to lies & false promises. Stop voting for politicians just because that's the party you "belong to" or your parents did or your significant other does. This isn't about them, it's about YOU! Think about your health & safety. Think about the health & safety of your daughters & granddaughters. These repulsive bills being passed are founded on LIES made up by politicians seeking too control you, not protect you. That's a matter of verifiable fact. Stop voting them in, stop letting them make life altering decisions for you, stop letting them tell you your worth as a woman, stop letting them tell you how to live your life. Stop being silent! We have a voice, we've proved that in the past. It's time for us to remind these backwards politicians of that fact.

Although "religion" isn't mentioned in this article, I think this is definitely a sign of how strong the influence of the fundamentalist religious right has become. It seems that, as if there aren't enough crises to deal with, american is being driven toward theocracy. One of the hallmarks of the male dominated, hierarchic structures of all organised religions is their misogynous nature. Think of the british government that was depicted in the movie "V for Vendetta" and I think you'll have a fair estimate of where america is headed.

and I Quote: "Congress SHALL MAKE NO LAW respecting an establishment of religion..." This means quite clearly that Congress MAY NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES pass a law which speaks about (respecting) religion. There are two reasons for this mandate. One is that they had come from a place where a particular religion was REQUIRED for all practical purposes. The second is that some of these great men were agnostics ("I accept that there is a God, I'm just not sure that it's YOUR "God") and atheists ("I don't believe that there is a "God" instead I believe that WE are RESPONSIBLE for our actions) These folks did not want a religion (or it's prejudices) rammed down their throats in the Law. Bottom line: IF you want to live in a nation which mandates your religion and enshrines it in Law...please leave, The USA is NOT that place. I have as much (and perhaps MORE) RIGHTS to be FREE of your religion as you have to practice it!

If gov. walker, god forbid, ends up as the presidential nominee for the GOP in 2016, this will be his undoing. I guarantee it. 10 days to pass such a bill. Overreach of the worst kind. We will not forget.

You know Mary Lazich, just because your face kept you from ever having any chance in hell of getting knocked up, doesn't mean you have to go out of your way to humiliate the ones who do. I love how Republicans cry about wanting smaller government unless it's in regard to a woman's vagina.

<blockquote>...just because your face kept you from ever having any chance in hell of getting knocked up..."</blockquote> Women of all ages, races, classes, appearances, and political beliefs get raped and get pregnant. Lazich is helping to perpetuate rape culture by sponsoring this reactionary bill; please don't help perpetuate it yourself by using insulting stereotypes like this.

Is there a site where I can contribute to their bail?