By TODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation on Tuesday that generally prohibits state health insurance from covering abortions for state workers.
The Republican-authored bill allows coverage of abortions only in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life.
State health-insurance plans already covered only medically necessary abortions but state law doesn’t define what’s meant by medically necessary. The bill’s supporters wanted to remove any ambiguity.
The anti-abortion group Wisconsin Right to Life issued a news release praising the governor, saying the group has waited 23 years for this “major step to roll back taxpayer funding for abortion.”
“This law significantly protects taxpayers’ rights, since no one should be forced to subsidize the taking of innocent human life,” the group said.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health and the Wisconsin Medical Society were among more than a dozen groups that registered their opposition to the measure. The Medical Society argued in testimony to the Assembly health committee last year that abortion is legal and that the state Group Insurance Board, which sets health-insurance policy, should be allowed to make its own decisions about coverage rather than have options “artificially restricted.”
The bill was among 64 proposals Walker privately signed into law with invited guests at the state Capitol. Most drew little attention.
Among the more notable new laws is one that will require mammogram providers to notify women if they have dense breast tissue. The law’s supporters say such notifications will empower women to make healthier choices because cancer is harder to detect in women with dense breast tissue.
Another will give unionized construction and other building trade workers employed by the state a 1.26 percent raise.
One of the new laws will require the state historical director to consider evidence for adding land to the state’s burial sites catalog and establish a process for challenging decisions and removing sites from the list. Developers need permits to excavate land listed in the catalog.