Republican state senators in Wisconsin on Wednesday silenced Democratic lawmakers while passing a bill requiring women to undergo an ultrasound procedure before being able to receive an abortion.
Wednesday's Senate session began with state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D) reading letters from several constituents who opposed the bill.
"The idea of -- quote -- small government is in direct conflict with big government Republicans sticking their nose my vagina," one voter named Suzanne wrote. "How can we get the conservatives -- mostly men -- to quit blaming women, many times girls, solely for unwanted pregnancies?"
A second letter pointed out that the bill's provision excluding rape and incest would not be effective because only 16 percent of rapes were reported to police.
Vinehout said that she had been touched by the letters because she had also been a victim of sexual assault at the age of 15.
"And if we truly want to make abortion rare, Mr. President, why are we defunding Planned Parenthood?" the Alma Democrat asked.
Republican state Sen. Mary Lazich, who sponsored the legislation, however, encouraged her fellow lawmakers to ignore "the theatrics surrounding" Vinehout's presentation and then launched into an impassioned speech of her own.
"If you have a loved one that's thinking about terminating their pregnancy, for crying out loud, you want them to have full information, you want them to have an ultrasound, you want them to know what's going on in that womb and what they're doing, and that they're not going to be able to change that for the rest of their life!" she exclaimed. "They make that decision, it's over! It's over in a few minutes. And then later on they can live with the fact that they terminated their pregnancy and it was the best thing for them or they killed their child and they made a horrific decision and they regret it and they wish they never would have done it!"
Following Lazich's remarks, Democrats tried to continue debate but Senate President Mike Ellis (R) called for a vote.
"It's non-debatable! Call the roll!" he shouted. "You're out of order!"
"You're out of order!" someone on the Senate floor shouted back.
"You're interrupting a roll call! Sit down! Right now!" Ellis yelled, repeatedly banging his gavel in anger.
"I understand you're afraid of this debate," Minority Leader Chris Larson (D) reportedly said, but his microphone was cut off, according to The Associated Press.
In the end, the bill passed 17 to 15 along party lines. It was immediately referred to the state Assembly, and Gov. Scott Walker (R) has said that he will sign it into law.