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Saturday, July 12, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 73.0° F  Overcast
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Wisconsin Assembly bill would recognize an unviable fetus as a person in wrongful death lawsuits

Rep. Andre Jacque (R-Green Bay)
Rep. Andre Jacque (R-Green Bay)
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State Rep. Andre Jacque (R-Green Bay) and Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) are looking for co-sponsors of a bill that would recognize an unviable fetus as a person and allow families to bring a wrongful death lawsuit for harm to a fetus from the moment of conception on.

In 2011 Jacque introduced a bill that would establish a "right to life" in the state constitution and define a fetus as a person, a so-called "personhood" amendment. The bill did not advance.

Abortion rights supporters contend that laws that grant a fetus legal status are attempts to chip away at legal abortion. Both Jacque and Grothman are opposed to abortion.

State law allows families to bring a wrongful death suit when a child dies. Wisconsin courts have interpreted child to include an "unborn" child but only at the point of viability, when the fetus could be expected to live outside the womb.

Jacque and Grothman say in their memo to legislators that their bill, dubbed "wrongful death of an unborn child," would give "all parents and families of deceased children equal rights to pursue a wrongful death claim under Wisconsin law."

They add that the concept of viability "bears no meaning to a parent grieving for the loss of their unborn child regardless of whether the pregnancy was in its early or late stages. This loss becomes even more painful when the death was the result of another's wrongful act."

Assembly lawmakers were in session and could not be reached for comment.

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