MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state Assembly has approved a Republican bill that would tighten restrictions on what types of abortions state health insurance plans can cover.
State health insurance plans currently cover only medically necessary abortions. But state law doesn't define a medically necessary abortion.
The bill would allow state health insurance plans to cover abortions only in cases of rape, incest, to preserve a mother's health or if a doctor certifies the procedure was medically necessary to save the woman's life or avoid long-term damage to her health.
Assembly Democrats complained that the bill is an ideological attack on women's health care, but Republicans control the chamber and in the end the bill passed 61-35. It goes next to the state Senate.
An identical bill died in the Senate in 2013. It's unclear if the proposal has enough support to get out of that house this time around.
12:10 p.m. The head of the University of Wisconsin medical school says passing a fetal tissue research ban would shut down ongoing potentially life-saving research. UW medical school dean Robert Golden testified against a measure Thursday being considered by a Senate committee. It would ban research on stem cells obtained from abortions done after January 2017. Golden says researchers will leave Wisconsin if the bill passes and biomedical research companies will no longer view the state as a promising place to locate. He says work on combatting asthma, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's and other illnesses will stop. Proponents of the measure say research can continue without using the aborted stem cells. The ban has been proposed for years but never gotten enough support to pass.
11:25 a.m. Supporters of a ban on research using aborted fetal tissue are pushing the bill in Wisconsin, even though its chances of passing appear slim. The state Senate judiciary committee held a hearing on competing proposals Thursday. One would ban the use of aborted fetal tissue for research or any other purpose. Another would target only the sale of fetal tissue and regulate certain research. Sen. Terry Moulton is sponsoring the bill banning research. He says it's a compromise from previous failed attempts because it would only affect research on stem cells obtained after January of this year and there are no criminal penalties for the mother or researchers. But opponents say the measure will chill research in the state. Opponents include the Medical College of Wisconsin and UW Health.
8:37 a.m. The Wisconsin Legislature is tackling anti-abortion measures, but it's unclear whether any of them have enough support among Republicans to pass. The Assembly on Thursday was set to debate a measure that would prohibit state health insurance programs from covering abortions for state workers. Similar proposals have failed to pass the Republican-controlled Legislature in the past. Meanwhile, a Senate committee is taking public testimony on a pair of bills targeting research using fetal tissue obtained from abortions. One would ban the use of aborted fetal tissue for research or any other purpose. Another would target only the sale of fetal tissue and regulate certain research. Similar proposals have failed to pass under opposition from the medical and scientific communities.
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