Wisconsin has just passed a new bill intended to impose government controls on what healthcare providers can and cannot tell patients.
The Republican-controlled state Senate on Tuesday passed two bills backed by abortion rights opponents, one of which is now on Gov. Jim Doyle's desk.
The bills would:
â€¢ Force physicians to tell women considering abortions that the fetus feels pain.
â€¢ Establish a "conscience clause" allowing doctors and other health care workers to refuse to participate in such procedures as abortion; sterilization; vitro fertilization; and assisted suicide, which is already illegal in Wisconsin.
Never mind that there's no science to say that a fetus feels pain, or, for that matter, any indication that the fetus is in fact a separate "person" from the woman, whose body is doing all the living here.
Senate Minority Leader Judy Robson, D-Beloit, expressed deep dismay after the main measure passed.
"This is the biggest rollback of patient's rights that has ever passed the Wisconsin Legislature," said Robson, who is a registered nurse.
Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, noted that the only organization supporting the bill was Wisconsin Right to Life, with more than 25 other medical and health groups opposed.
Risser called it a "cruel bill that adversely affects the rights" not only of women, but men as well.
Republicans argued earlier in the day that additional notification requirements are needed to help women be fully informed when they decide to end a pregnancy.
The state already requires a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion and mandates they receive a brochure about the risks of abortion and pregnancy, as well as alternatives to abortion, such as adoption.
Democrats called the new notification requirements "junk science" that would disrupt the doctor-patient relationship.
"How dare you say that because you believe what you do about things that are not substantiated, that you dictate what a person's doctor tells them?" ask Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee.
Robson said suggestions that a fetus of more than 20 weeks feels pain is still open to debate in the medical community. She told the story of a young woman who had gone into premature labor who was forced to choose between terminating a pregnancy and possibly dying of complications.
Robson called it "incredibly cruel" to tell the woman that her fetus might suffer during the procedure. "How inhumane can you be in passing a bill like this?"
Risser called the bill a product of the "right-wing Republican morality squad."
"There's no socially redeeming purpose for this bill," Risser said, arguing that it was wrong to tell anyone - physicians or otherwise - what they can say to a client.
But nothing will get in the way of a Republican lusting after control of reproduction.