2017 | Week of October 9 | #1224
Seven months after two bills were given to State Senate President Republican Roger Roth, they are now finally formally introduced. Senate rules stipulate that the Senate President is to “promptly” introduce bills given to him from senate authors. Introduction includes getting a bill number and a committee assignment, the first major steps in the legislative process.
For at least 3 bills, all of which are related to the same issue, Senator Roth obviously interpreted “promptly” to mean something considerably different from the dictionary definition of “being ready and quick to act” or “performed readily or immediately.”
Nevertheless, the bills in question are now, at last, introduced. The bills deal with providing ethical guidelines for and promoting ethical material for fetal tissue research. Currently, some research at both public and private labs around the state utilizes fetal tissue derived from aborted children. This has caused ethical dilemmas for researchers who do not want to experiment on this type of tissue. It has also disturbed many members of the public who do not want to receive medicines and medical treatments that are derived from the unjust taking of human life.
You might recall that in the spring of 2016 as the legislative session was winding down, the state legislature adjourned without dealing with Assembly Bill 305, a bill that prohibited the trade and use of the body parts of aborted babies. While there was much talk behind closed doors on the bill, the bill never was scheduled for a vote in either house. Those supporting the bill, in both the Assembly and the Senate, were assured something would be done in the next legislative session. And that’s now.
Senator Terry Moulton, a Republican from Chippewa Falls, and Representative Joel Kleefisch, a Republican from Oconomowoc, have introduced a new version of the previous bill, along with a companion bill designed to help scientists to get ethically derived fetal tissue for their research. The bill numbers are Senate Bill 423 and Senate Bill 424. Both bills have been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
These two complementary bills comprise the Heal Without Harm Initiative. Senate Bill 423, known as the Fetal Remains Respect Act, outlaws the future exploitation of aborted children for fetal body parts, which are defined as tissue, organ or other part of an aborted unborn child. Senate Bill 424, known as the Unborn Child Disposition and Anatomical Gift Act, provides scientists with ethical sources of fetal tissue by making sure parents who experience a miscarriage or stillbirth at a health facility are aware that if they would like, they can donate their baby’s body for research.
These bills give Wisconsin an extraordinary opportunity to lead the nation by championing research that is ethical, innovative and effective. The two-bill package is strongly supported by all four of the state’s major pro-life groups: Wisconsin Family Council’s sister organization, Wisconsin Family Action; Wisconsin Right to Life, Wisconsin Catholic Conference, and Pro-Life Wisconsin. These four groups have come together in an unprecedented coalition around this single issue and have formed Heal Without Harm, an ethical research coalition.
A competing bill, authored by Republican Senator Alberta Darling and Republican Representative Cindi Duchow, continues to allow the trade and use of the body parts of aborted babies by attempting to regulate it rather than prohibit the practice altogether. In addition, the bill has some exceptions and inconsistencies that make it unacceptable to all four of the major pro-life groups who have each registered in opposition to the bill.
The majority party of the state senate—meaning Senate Republicans—is scheduled to discuss these bills this week in a closed-door caucus. Following the caucus, the next step would be a committee hearing on the bills so that the public can engage on the issue.
Assembly versions of these bills will soon be introduced, which would then allow both houses to begin working on them. Time will be significant. The state senate is scheduled to be on the floor only two more days before the end of the year, and Assembly leadership has indicated they want to wrap up the session by the end of January. If these bills move “promptly” in the true meaning of the word, there’s still time for them to pass before the session is a wrap. If Senator Roth’s interpretation of “promptly,” is invoked, then that’s a different story because we don’t have 7 months.
For Wisconsin Family Council, I’m Julaine Appling, reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.