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2 GOP lawmakers push bill on fetuses

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Two Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation that would allow parents to sue if a their unborn child dies as a result of someone’s wrongful acts, but it would do so by redefining state law to say life starts at conception.

Current law allows wrongful death lawsuits in a fetus’ death only if a doctor concludes the fetus was old enough to survive birth. The bill co-sponsored by Rep. Andre Jacque, who has introduced several anti-abortion bills in the past, would allow families to file such lawsuits if someone causes a fetus to die at any point during pregnancy.

“Unborn children are just as valued as any other child,” said Jacque, R-De Pere, who is sponsoring the measure with Sen. Glenn Grothman of West Bend. “All parents should be able to file lawsuits if someone has caused their children’s deaths.”

Jacque sponsored a constitutional amendment in 2011 that would have declared that human life begins at fertilization. The legislation failed in the Senate last year.

Democratic Rep. Sandy Pasch, who serves on the Assembly’s Family Law Committee, said she hadn’t seen the bill. But she said giving fetuses a status equal to their mothers would be a backward move that would chip away at women’s rights.

“I’m concerned if those politicians are really concerned about the well-being of women and their families,” she said. Democratic legislative leaders referred questions about the bill to Pasch, who is from Shorewood.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin spokeswoman Stephanie Wilson declined comment, saying she hadn’t read the bill.

Jacque said he hasn’t discussed the bill with legislative leaders in his party.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment on the bill’s prospects. Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s spokesman Cullen Werwie said the governor hasn’t evaluated the bill.

Julaine Appling, president of the anti-abortion group Wisconsin Family Action, praised the bill by saying: “We should recognize that a child is always a life since its early formation.”

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