MADISON (AP) — Wisconsin's largest medical association asked Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday to veto a bill that would add new requirements for doctors to ensure a woman isn't forced into an abortion. Walker's office said the governor is still evaluating the bill.
The Wisconsin Medical Society's letter said the bill passed by the Republican-controlled state Legislature earlier this month would infringe on the physician-patient relationship. The doctors' group also expressed concern that physicians who fail to follow the bill exactly will face a Class I felony charge.
Walker's spokesman Cullen Werwie said the governor is still evaluating the bill, as well as others passed in the legislative session that adjourned last week. They include a bill that would make teaching about contraception use optional and emphasize abstinence in public schools' sex education classes.
"We're still evaluating all those bills," Werwie said.
At a bill signing event Monday in Milwaukee, Walker said he hasn't looked at the abortion and sex education bills because he's been focusing on mining legislation.
The abortion bill would specify what physicians can legally say to women seeking abortions. Supporters of the bill say it tightens language so women are not coerced into getting an abortion by a partner or family member. They say the bill would also make sure doctors aren't doing abortion consultations remotely via webcams. But opponents argue that webcam consultations aren't currently done in Wisconsin, and the bill's true intent is to make it harder for a woman to get an abortion.
Supporters of the sex education bill say it gives school districts control over how they teach children in their local communities. Opponents say it would increase the risk of more sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancies for young people. Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, D- Madison, released a letter Tuesday asking Walker to veto the bill.
Democrats have criticized the GOP-led Legislature for what they say was an "anti-woman" agenda during a session that should have focused more on jobs. The legislation also included a bill that would ban abortion coverage from policies obtained through a health insurance exchange that is to begin in 2014. The exchange will be a marketplace for small businesses and individuals to shop for health insurance coverage.
Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, sent Walker a letter Tuesday seeking vetoes on the bills.
"Governor, I think you and I can both agree that politicians should focus on legislation that puts Wisconsin back to work, not laws that oversteps the state's role in a woman's very personal and very private medical decisions," he wrote in the letter.
Walker has until April 12 to sign or veto any of the bills before they automatically become law.
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