Wisconsin Bans Most Late-Term Abortions; GOP Presidential Hopeful Scott Walker Signs Bill

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, United States, July 18, 2015. | (Photo: REUTERS/Jim Young)

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has signed into law a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks with the exception of the health of the mother.

Gov. Walker signed Senate Bill 179, which does not include exemptions for rape and incest, into law on Monday along with two other bills on unrelated matters.

"Signed into law today, prohibits abortion 20 weeks or more after fertilization, except in the case of a medical emergency," read a statement from the Governor's Office.

"Under the bill, no person can perform or induce an abortion when the unborn child is considered to be capable of experiencing pain."

Introduced in May by Republican State Senator Mary Lazich, SB 179 bars most abortions at 20 weeks or later in the pregnancy under the assumption that 20 weeks represents the earliest a fetus can feel pain.

"No person shall perform or induce or attempt to perform or induce an abortion upon a woman when the unborn child is considered capable of experiencing pain unless the woman is undergoing a medical emergency," reads SB 179.

"When the unborn child is considered capable of experiencing pain and the pregnant woman is undergoing a medical emergency, the physician shall terminate the pregnancy in the manner that, in reasonable medical judgment, provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive."

The bill was denounced by groups like NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, which released a statement in May.

"Senator Lazich claims that this bill is to protect babies," said Peg Lautenschlager, former state attorney general and NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin board member. "In reality, her bill would do nothing but humiliate women and put them and their families at risk."

SB 179 was referred to the Committee on Health and Human Services, where in early June it was recommended in a vote of three ayes to two nays.

Later in June it was passed by the Senate in a vote of 19 ayes to 14 nays and then in July it passed the Assembly in a vote of 61 ayes, 34 nays, and two abstentions.

Walker's signing of SB 179 into law comes days after the Wisconsin governor announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president.

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