Wisconsin Political Digest

Wisconsin continues decline in abortion numbers

Abortions in Wisconsin declined by 2.4 percent in 2015 from 2014, pro-life groups announced this week.

According to their numbers, Planned Parenthood performed 4,056 abortions in 2015, while Affiliated Medical Services in Milwaukee and a few other hospitals provided the remaining 1,604 abortions.

“The tide is turning in Wisconsin to a culture of life,” Pro-Life Wisconsin director Dan Miller said. “Let us re-double our efforts to see to it that every child conceived in Wisconsin is fully protected, loved and cared for.”

Heather Weininger, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life, was similarly happy.

“Wisconsin has seen an incredible and steady decrease in its abortion rate, and the latest statistics for 2015 indicate we are continuing this lifesaving trend,” Weininger said. “The 2015 released abortion numbers reveal there were 140 fewer abortions in 2015 than in 2014. These are mothers and unborn children spared from the pain of abortion, thanks to much of the work we do here at Wisconsin Right to Life.”

The newly released Department of Health Services Reported Induced Abortions in Wisconsin report indicated that 79 percent of abortions were surgical, 21 percent were chemical, and 0.1 percent were surgical procedures following a failed chemical abortion

“Each woman who spares herself and her unborn baby from the pain of abortion is bringing great joy to those of us who work to change hearts and minds on the right to life,” Weininger said.

Lawmakers call for federal investigation at King

State Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) and other state lawmakers formally requested this week a federal investigation into allegations of neglect and mismanagement at the state Veterans’ Home at King.

The letter to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs follows news reports of numerous incidents at the veterans’ facility that the lawmakers say “jeopardize the health and safety of residents at King.”

Lassa and fellow legislators cite “incidents of neglect, overmedication and erroneous prescription of medication, antiquated equipment and facilities, exposure to toxins, lack of control programs for certain infections, and consistent understaffing that contributes to poor patient care.”

Joining Lassa in signing the letter were Senate Democratic leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse), Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and Sen. Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville).

The lawmakers charge that the poor conditions at King were allowed to persist at the same time that the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs was diverting revenue from the veterans’ homes to administrative expenses and other budgetary uses, indicating “a pattern of mismanagement of the veterans’ home at King that is endangering the health and safety of its residents.”

Lassa indicated that she has been trying for more than a year to get the administration and the Legislature to investigate troubling charges she had heard from constituents regarding conditions at King. 

“I have been hearing from veterans and their families about the conditions at King, but my attempts to get the Walker administration and the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to take action were met with denials and excuses,” she said.

Veterans deserve the best possible care, Lassa said. 

“This is not a partisan political issue, it’s an issue of mismanagement and neglect,” she said. “This is shameful, and our veterans and their families deserve better.”

Kessler: Independence needed in officer-involved shootings

State Rep. Frederick P. Kessler (D-Milwaukee), a former judge, said this week he would be introducing legislation modeled after legislation currently in use in Ontario, Canada, where an independent review committee investigates every officer-involved shooting.

“The independent review committee would be selected using the former GAB model where three randomly selected court of appeals judges would select the members of the committee who would then select the prosecutor and the chief investigator who would be a former federal law enforcement official,” Kessler said. “Additionally, the committee will have some funds sufficient to investigate every officer-involved shooting.” 

Kessler said an independent review committee should be used to determine whether an officer’s actions were warranted and proper any time there is an officer-involved shooting, regardless of who the person was that was shot by the officer.

“I believe an independent review committee provides the public with the confidence that an officer’s actions will be impartially reviewed and creates the transparency that reassures all involved,” he said.