Over the past two weeks, Wisconsin Republicans have fast-tracked several anti-abortion measures they hope to squeeze in before this year’s legislative session ends. Gov. Scott Walker (R) has already thrown his support behind some of the abortion restrictions — but the same isn’t true for any of the major medical associations in the state.
As the Capital Times notes, Wisconsin’s proposed abortion restrictions — which include a bill that would shut down abortion clinics and mandate potentially invasive ultrasound procedures, a bill to prevent abortions based on gender, and a bill to prevent insurance coverage of abortion in Obamacare’s health insurance marketplaces — don’t have the backing of leading doctors’ groups. The Wisconsin Medical Society, the Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards, the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, the Wisconsin Hospital Association, and the Wisconsin Public Health Association have all declined to endorse the measures.
Susan Armacost, the legislative director for Wisconsin Right to Life, told the Capital Times that the doctors and medical leaders who haven’t announced their support for the abortion restrictions are being “short-sighted.”
“We would remind the medical community that abortion is unlike any other medical procedure. Its only goal is to destroy a human life,” Armacost said. “I would think if they stopped to think about this, they would realize it is not like setting a broken wrist or taking out appendix.”
Aramcost’s comments reflect the anti-abortion community’s push to segregate abortion services from the rest of women’s health care, an indirect method of restricting women’s access to reproductive health services. That tactic that has been largely successful, as many states lack adequate numbers of abortion providers now that mounting piles of restrictions have made it too difficult to practice abortion care.
But the professional medical community stands in opposition to this characterization of women’s health. Earlier this month, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a national organization representing thousands of women’s health experts, came out against state-level abortion restrictions that interfere in their work. And as anti-abortion legislation has gotten more extreme over the past several years, increasing numbers of nonpartisan medical associations have chosen to wade into politics by expressing their opposition to abortion bills.