The Republican-dominated Wisconsin legislature's Committee on Health and Human Services has approved a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks or more of pregnancy, even in cases of rape and incest, except when a woman is undergoing a medical emergency.
However, the bill gives weight on saving the foetus and is silent on protecting the health of the mother.
"When the unborn child is considered capable of experiencing pain and the pregnant woman is undergoing a medical emergency, the physician shall terminate the pregnancy in the manner that, in reasonable medical judgment, provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive," according to section 253.107 of the bill.
Wisconsin Democratic Senator John Erpenbach blasted the bill for being silent on what the doctor should do to protect the mother's health in case of abortion in a medical emergency.
"Today, it was confirmed that not only are Senate Republicans advancing a dangerous piece of legislation, they have no idea what's in it," said Erpenbach.
The Legislative Counsel confirmed that under the abortion ban authored by Senator Mary Lazich, in a doctor-determined medical emergency where termination of the pregnancy is deemed necessary, "the doctor is required to focus on the foetus and the bill is silent on the mother."
Erpenbach offered an amendment to protect the mother's health but it was rejected.
"Even offering a simple change to apply current law protections to women, to mothers, was unacceptable to Senate Republicans," Erpenbach said. "Let me be clear, today the Republicans on the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services refused to guarantee women across the state of Wisconsin life-saving protections, and increased confusion for the doctors providing their care."
Erpenbach noted that the Wisconsin bill lacks the provisions of a similar bill passed by the US House of Representatives that says a doctor who terminates a pregnancy "may do so only in the manner which, in reasonable medical judgment, provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive, unless, in reasonable medical judgment, termination of the pregnancy in that manner would pose a greater risk of the death of the pregnant woman; or the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions, of the pregnant woman than would other available methods."
Republic Sen. Joe Sanfelippo, one of the authors of the bill, disagreed, saying "the truth is, there is nothing in the bill that requires a doctor to 'ignore the health of the mother. Under this bill, both lives will be treated equally," according to the Huffington Post.
The bill will be tackled by the Wisconsin Senate and Gov. Scott Walker said he will sign the bill once it is approved by the legislature.