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Friday, September 24, 2021

Sen. Erpenbach and Rep. Taylor announced the RESPECT Women Act, with support from medical professionals and other reproductive health advocates.

Democrats propose bill to protect reproductive acts as Roe v. Wade faces scrutiny

As the U.S. Supreme Court begins to hear cases that could challenge Roe v. Wade, two Democratic legislators proposed two bills Wednesday to ensure Wisconsinites get deserved medical treatment under its current constitutional protections.

Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, and Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Wisconsin, introduced two bills — the RESPECT Access to Care Bill and the RESPECT Medical Accuracy Bill — that ensure Wisconsinites have access to safe and legal abortions, as well as accurate medical information from their health care providers. 

The Access to Care Bill would establish access to safe and legal abortions and eliminate current laws that act in opposition. 

The bill would also protect women from potential new laws implemented in an effort to infringe upon this right without medical foundation.

The Medical Accuracy Bill draws on informed consent, requiring medical professionals to provide their patients with all medically relevant information regarding their decision. The bill would make it a right for patients to seek such information, while protecting medical professionals from employer backlash for providing it. 

In tandem, the bills protect the process of obtaining relevant and accurate medical information from political intervention — something Taylor stressed as very important for women and health care providers.

“Time and time again, Republican legislators in our state have inserted themselves into the exam room,” Taylor said in a statement. “This package of bills will put these personal health care decisions back where they should be — between a woman and her doctor.”

Taylor and Erpenbach announced the act the same day the U.S. Supreme Court heard the oral arguments in June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo. 

The U.S. Supreme Court declared a similar case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, unconstitutional in 2016. Both cases deal with regulations that geographically restrict access to abortions. 

LLC v. Russo is the first abortion-related case to reach the new Supreme Court, with justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — both considered to be conservative. Concerns about a possible overturn of Roe v. Wade accompanied the introduction of this case on Wednesday.

Mike Murray, the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, said he hopes with cases going to the Supreme Court that could determine the future of abortion access across the country, Wisconsin would help protect that right. 

“If Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, abortion would immediately become a crime in Wisconsin,” Murray said. “It's time for our state lawmakers to step up and support the RESPECT Women Act.”

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