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Wisconsin Republicans Push to Ban Fetal Tissue Donation, Require Aborted Fetuses Be Buried or Cremated

Nina Liss-Schultz

Reps. André Jacque (R-De Pere) and Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) circulated a draft of the bill this week and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) promised a floor vote for the bill even though it hasn’t yet been formally introduced.

See more of our coverage on the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.

Wisconsin Republicans, in the wake of misleading videos attacking Planned Parenthood, are pushing through a bill that would prohibit the donation of fetal tissue following abortions and require the remains be buried or cremated.

Reps. André Jacque (R-De Pere) and Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) circulated a draft of the bill this week and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) promised a floor vote for the bill even though it hasn’t yet been formally introduced.

Similar legislation has been rejected by the state legislature in the past two sessions, but following the release of three videos attacking Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donation program, which is a legal and longstanding practice in the United States that has contributed to significant medical advancements, the bill is likely to gain more traction.

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“It’s the whole idea of human dignity and the respectful responsible disposition of human remains,” Rep. Jacque said, referring to the piece of the bill that requires aborted fetus remains be buried or cremated.

Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin does not have a fetal tissue donation program. Jacque told the Journal Sentinel that the bill would only ban research on tissue from aborted fetuses, not fetal tissue in general.

Jacque is also circulating a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood, the largest women’s health-care network in the country.

The measure reflects a piece of boilerplate legislation written by Americans United for Life (AUL) and proposed as part of the anti-choice group’s 2015 legislative agenda. AUL’s proposal, meant to be used and replicated by state legislatures across the country and called the “Dignified Final Disposition Act,” would require that following an abortion the physician either bury or cremate the fetal remains as opposed to discarding it with other medical waste.

The Arkansas legislature passed a bill this year requiring that physicians dispose of the products of conception in a “respectful manner.”

In an op-ed for the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch, Wisconsin Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison), a former Planned Parenthood legislative director, called the attack on the organization a “smear campaign” and said her colleague’s efforts hurt women.

“And this is where the right is the most out of touch,” she wrote. “They want to talk about death and fetal tissue and body parts, leaving women out of the discussion on abortion and reproductive health. They ignore the reality of women’s lives, and the dreams that we have for ourselves and the families we may, or may not, someday have.”

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