Democratic Gov. Tony Evers on Friday vetoed four abortion bills passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature, following through with his promise to stop the measures from becoming law.
One bill Evers vetoed would have imposed criminal penalties on doctors who fail to give medical care in the extremely rare circumstance where a baby is born alive following an abortion attempt.
Other vetoed bills would have cut off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood; prohibited abortions based on the fetus’ race, sex or defects; and required providers to tell women seeking abortions using the drug mifepristone that the process may be reversed after the first dose.
Republicans had called on Evers to sign the bills, even though he ran as an abortion rights advocate and had long promised to veto them. Abortion opponents joined with Republican lawmakers at a Thursday rally in the Capitol, just feet from Evers’ office, to argue for him to sign the measures.
“Everyone should have access to quality, affordable health care, and that includes reproductive health care,” Evers said in a statement. “Politicians shouldn’t be in the business of interfering with decisions made between patients and their health care providers.”
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Republican Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, who sponsored the “born alive” bill, said he was “incredibly saddened” but not surprised by the vetoes.
“People have come out in droves to support these common sense, life-saving measures,” Steineke said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Governor Evers has once again made clear that he believes protecting babies in Wisconsin simply isn’t a productive use of his time.”
The push by Republicans to enact the bills comes as abortion opponents are trying to bring cases before the U.S. Supreme Court that will result in overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio enacted bills barring abortion once there’s a detectable fetal heartbeat, as early as the sixth week of pregnancy. Missouri’s governor signed a bill approving an eight-week ban on abortion, with exceptions only for medical emergencies. Alabama outlawed virtually all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. None of the bans has taken effect, and all are expected to face legal challenges.
The bills passed in Wisconsin don’t go that far or attempt to further restrict the state’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.