Scott Walker is back at it. The Wisconsin governor running for president is no stranger to controversy — from his recent cuts, to the state's public education funding, to his hateful comments against the legalization of gay marriage to his recall election. The latest news? He's encroaching in on abortion rights. On Monday, Walker signed a bill banning non-emergency abortions after 20 weeks.
The only exception to the ban is medical emergencies — in the case of rape or incest, there is no option of abortion under this legislation. Performing such an abortion anyways despite the bill would result in some serious consequences: possible felony charges, up to $10,000 in fines, and up to three and a half years in prison. But Wisconsin is not alone; 13 other states, including Arizona, Arkansas, and Texas, have similar measures.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Walker justifies his stance by arguing his opinion that fetuses feel pain after 20 weeks. On Monday, he said:
At five months, that's the time when that unborn child can feel pain. When an unborn child can feel pain, we should be protecting that child.
This "science" about fetal pain has been cited by numerous politicians and pro-life supporters, but has never really been verified. In fact, the The Wisconsin section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) explicitly advise against the 20-week ban, saying that its unlikely that fetal pain occurs before 29 or 30 weeks, and adding that "politicians are not medical experts."
The AP reports that the ban is likely to be challenged in the court, though Walker is confident the legislation is here to stay.
Not surprisingly, many people are not thrilled about Walker's latest move. Kaylie Hanson, director of Women's Media at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) said in a statement Monday:
This legislation is nothing more than a timely favor that will rally the GOP base just days after Scott Walker’s presidential campaign kickoff. But the harsh reality is that this law will hurt women, as it puts up barriers to care for rape and incest survivors – no exceptions – and threatens the health of the mother. This law doesn’t only undermine the most basic women’s health services. It’s radical, dangerous, and lacks respect for half the population of Wisconsin. Once again, Scott Walker has placed his own backward ideology above the best interests of the people in his state.
The Twitterverse is also (naturally) fuming over Walker.
For many Wisconsinites, the abortion ban is extreme. But as Walker campaigns as a potential president, his strong pro-life stance incites concerns on a national, not just state, level.
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