Why aren’t Wisconsin GOP leaders fighting for aborted tissue ban?

Disturbing news is coming out of Wisconsin, where Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is trying to lower pro-lifers’ expectations for a vote on AB 305, which would ban medical research from using fetal organs obtained from abortions:

Every time people say ‘I think that I have the votes,’ they don’t,” Vos said. “My job is to count votes for a living […] My job is to talk to lawmakers and to try to craft a compromise that can work in the long run that we can also make sure we explain to the public and do the right thing […]

There were many who said, look, let’s try to craft a bill that can address the issue but not go so much further. And some of those on the pro-life side have said they don’t want to compromise at all; they’d rather ban the research. I just fundamentally have an issue with that, which is why we’ve had that discussion in caucus and we haven’t found a consensus.

Vos has been dragging his feet on the legislation for months (GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he has reservations, too, while Governor Scott Walker is largely keeping quiet on the issue). In September, Wisconsin Family Action President Julaine Appling said it was “very disturbing that the Speaker can’t find 50 votes out of 63 fellow Assembly Republicans all almost all of whom at least claim to be pro-life,” and the Milwaukee pro-life ads we reported on earlier this month were meant in part to pressure him to change his tune.

In October, Media Trackers questioned Vos’s claim that the votes simply weren’t there in the Republican-controlled chamber, noting that the bill already has 42 confirmed supporters, the Republicans who haven’t yet endorsed it all have 100% ratings with Wisconsin Right to Life, and that there are eight past supporters of fetal tissue bans that haven’t yet signed onto this one—so the votes to make up the difference should be there.

As for Vos’s personal reservations about the ban, it is true that there’s a difference between research using ethically-obtained human tissue and getting that tissue from murdering babies, and there would be a legitimate case against the bill if it banned the former in addition to the latter.

However, contrary to the Speaker’s insinuation that the bill’s backers just won’t listen to reason, lead sponsor Rep. André Jacque says the bill only bans the use of tissue derived from abortion, and that he’s perfectly willing to consider further revisions if need be. Wisconsin Family Action doesn’t oppose using fetal tissue as long as abortion isn’t involved, either.

And they’re right—the bill text defines prohibited “fetal body parts” as those from “an unborn child […] who is aborted by an induced abortion,” and the sponsors have already agreed to an exception for tissue obtained from pre-2015 abortions. So Vos’s accusation that “some of the authors” want “no amendments” is simply false. This legislation is solely about keeping all future abortions out of the research.

What pro-lifer could oppose that? What legitimate concerns could possibly remain? What further revisions are there that wouldn’t render the ban toothless? We hear a lot of vague talk about this ban having a “chilling effect” on research done at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but nothing specific that would actually find the “consensus” Vos claims to want.

If Wisconsin’s Republican leaders are letting the rabidly pro-abortion UW-Madison define what’s “reasonable,” then pro-lifers—and more importantly, preborn babies—in the Badger State have a big problem.

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