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State Senate passes abortion bill requiring ultrasounds

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - After 20 minutes of debate Wednesday morning, Democrats screamed through a roll call vote on a bill that might force Appleton’s Planned Parenthood clinic to close – and to make abortion candidates get ultrasounds so they could see what they were giving up.

The Republican bill passed on a 17-15 party line vote with all Democrats voting no.

After the measure was debated Tuesday, Democrats blocked the final vote until Wednesday.

Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said the opponents had plenty of time to debate the measure – and the Senate needed to vote quickly Wednesday morning, so members could go to committee meetings.

Minority Leader Chris Larson didn’t buy that claim. With his microphone turned off he yelled, “I understand you’re afraid of this debate.”

Senate President Mike Ellis broke the base where he pounded his gavel and he yelled to Larson, “You’re interrupting a roll call, and that will not be tolerated – sit down!”

The bill’s sponsor, New Berlin Republican Mary Lazich, said any family would want the most information possible before losing a relative to an abortion – and an ultrasound would provide it.

Critics said it would force Planned Parenthood in Appleton to close, because it does not have doctors with hospital privileges. The bill requires abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of their clinics.

Alma Democrat Kathleen Vinehout said the true intent of the bill was to close as many abortion facilities as possible.

The tense Senate vote was reminiscent of the 2011 debate on virtually ending collective bargaining for most public employee unions.

Afterward, Democrats held a news conference that was longer than the floor debate.

The bill now goes to the Assembly Thursday and then to Governor Scott Walker, who says he’ll sign it.