- Associated Press - Friday, March 3, 2017

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Republican lawmakers want to prohibit University of Wisconsin employees from performing abortions or providing training at facilities where abortions are performed, other than hospitals.

Rep. Andre Jacque and Sen. Chris Kapenga are circulating a bill targeting an arrangement between Planned Parenthood and the University of Wisconsin in which faculty members work part-time at the organization’s Madison clinic.

“The university has been acting as a contractor for Planned Parenthood,” Jacque said. “That is not the role of the government.”

Agreements between a handful of physicians from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin have been in place since 2008. Under the current agreement, which has been in place since 2012, physicians provide family planning, disease screening and surgery services including abortions to patients in exchange for an hourly fee of $150. The agreement estimates 16 to 20 hours of services will be provided per week.

Lisa Brunette, a spokeswoman for UW Health, said fewer than 10 faculty members provide services at Planned Parenthood. She said obstetrics-gynecology medical residents receive abortion training at the clinic. National guidelines require the school to offer such training, but residents can opt out.

The school “will vigorously defend its commitment to train medical residents in all specialties, including ob-gyn,” she said.

Spokeswomen for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin did not immediately respond to several questions submitted to them.

The Planned Parenthood clinics in Madison and Milwaukee are the organization’s only two Wisconsin clinics that still perform abortions. These two clinics perform about 3,400 abortions combined each year.

Under current state law, government funds cannot be used to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape or incest or when the mother’s life is endangered. This proposal would also include those exceptions.

A handful of other bills proposed this session involve abortions. One GOP proposal introduced last month would ban the sale of fetal tissue, which Republicans have been trying to do for years. But Jacque and others who are staunchly anti-abortion have said the proposal would be ineffective because it essentially duplicates federal law. Support for a version Jacque introduced last session fizzled after researchers argued it could hurt potentially life-saving research. At least two other fetal tissue bills are still in the works.

Another GOP proposal this session would prohibit the state’s insurance board from covering abortions for state workers and state annuitant retirees.

Democrats have proposed two measures that would protect access to abortions.

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Follow Cara Lombardo on Twitter at https://twitter.com/CaraRLombardo

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