2017 | Week of October 30 | #1227
Over the last six years, Wisconsin has enacted a number of pro-life laws that appropriately proscribe abortion, most of which are helping women be better informed before they take the life-taking action of aborting their baby. We’ve also made some very good progress in defunding Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, the state’s largest abortion provider. As a result of all of this and in concert with incredible pro-life work by thousands working faithfully in the culture, the number of abortions annually in our state continues to go down from highs in the 20,000s in the early years to under 6000 now.
Of course, as pro-life advocates we will not rest or stop until abortion is illegal in our state and nation. While we work for that we also continue to do everything we can to protect unborn babies and the women who carry them.
One related area where we have yet to make progress, however, is in stopping the trade and use of the body parts of aborted. Pro-life groups pushed hard last legislative session, in the wake of the Center for Medical Progress videos. These videos clearly show Planned Parenthood involved in the trading and selling of the body parts of aborted babies to third-parties who then made the material available to research labs. In spite of everyone’s best efforts, the Republican-led Assembly and Senate made it clear a bill banning the trade and use of these body parts would not pass.
While very disappointed, the pro-life groups became better organized for a new effort this session. The Heal Without Harm Coalition, comprised of Wisconsin Family Action, Wisconsin Right to Life, Wisconsin Catholic Conference and Pro-Life Wisconsin, worked hard to help legislators come up with the very best language possible, language that clearly bans the trade and use of these body parts but that also provides scientists with fetal tissue that is ethically derived.
Republican Senator Terry Moulton and Republican Representative Joel Kleefisch have authored the Heal Without Harm Initiative, a two-bill package that accomplishes this goal. Senate Bill 424 prohibits the trade and use of the body parts of aborted babies. It also requires a facility that provides an abortion to arrange for the appropriate final disposition of the aborted remains.
Senate Bill 424 requires that when a woman miscarries or has a stillbirth at a healthcare facility, the facility will inform the parents that they may choose to donate their child’s remains for research.
This legislative package is unprecedented and would set Wisconsin apart as a leader in ethical research rather than have us continue to use unethically derived fetal tissue from aborted babies. This makes a better situation in many ways, not the least of which is protecting pro-life researchers from upon occasion unwittingly violating their conscience in the course of their work or from having to choose between possibly losing their jobs or violating their conscience to keep their job. The same is true for people who are dealing with a dreaded disease but don’t want to use a treatment that was developed at the expense of an aborted baby’s tissue or body parts having been traded or even sold to the highest bidder. In addition, continuing to allow the trade and use of the body parts of aborted babies creates an incentive for abortion.
Some 35 additional legislative colleagues have joined Senator Moulton and Representative Kleefisch as co-authors and co-sponsors of these bills.
The bills have moved slowly in the legislature. After five and a half months of sitting in Senate leadership’s office waiting for numbers and committee assignment, the bills have finally been introduced. On Thursday of this week, they will have a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Unless the bills are very quickly acted on in that committee after the hearing, they will die again this session as a result of the budget passing late and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos indicating he is winding up work in his house by late January. That compressed scheduled with few floor periods left won’t allow for both houses to act on the bills unless the senate moves very quickly.
These bills deserve not just public hearings and committee votes in both houses. They deserve a vote in the full senate and assembly. They deal with the humanity and dignity of unborn children and how Wisconsin values human life. This is an incredible opportunity for Wisconsin to do the right thing, in the right way for the right reason.
For Wisconsin Family Council, I’m Julaine Appling, reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.