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Scott Walker Signs Restrictive Abortion Bill in Wisconsin

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Scott Walker Signs Restrictive Abortion Bill in Wisconsin

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Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) signed legislation Monday outlawing abortion for mothers at or over 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill, which the governor had said he would sign shortly after he declared his run for the presidency, would make performing an abortion at or beyond 20 weeks a felony, carrying a sentence of up to 3 1/2 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Abortion has been restricted in Wisconsin before. Two years ago, Walker signed a bill that not only mandated that women have an ultrasound before an abortion, but required doctors who performed the procedure to have hospital admitting privileges. Immediately, the state’s two abortion providers, Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services, sued in federal court, where the measure was blocked. Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge William Conley ruled that the requirement was unconstitutional. The ruling is now being appealed by a Republican attorney general.

Other states have seen similar actions. Courts have blocked various bans and requirements in Georgia, Arizona, Idaho, Alabama, and Mississippi, with other states enmeshed in litigation. Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, allows states to “restrict the procedures after the fetus reaches viability, the point where it could survive outside the womb,” according to the Associated Press.

So what’s the viable limit? Well, that’s tricky. The Supreme Court defined it as:

When, in the judgment of the attending physician on the particular facts of the case before him, there is a reasonable likelihood of the fetus’ sustained survival outside the womb, with or without artificial support. Because this point may differ with each pregnancy, neither the legislature nor the courts may proclaim one of the elements entering into the ascertainment of viability—be it weeks of gestation or fetal weight or any other single factor—as the determinant.

That threshold has hovered roughly in the range of 22 to 24 weeks after conception, but without a single, definitive standard, politicians and policymakers have wide latitude in interpreting that statement. Walker and supporters of the measure claim that’s it’s about protection: “At five months, that’s the time when that unborn child can feel pain,” Walker said at the signing. “When an unborn child can feel pain, we should be protecting that child.”

Aside from the fact that Walker used the word “child” in place of “fetus,” the medical establishment (which includes the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and its U.K. counterpart) has concluded that a fetus — yes, a fetus, not a child — doesn’t feel pain at 20 weeks. That’s also what the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded after a systemic overview of evidence. In fact, the professor of pediatrics who at first advanced the theory that pain could occur in a fetus that young (though he noted that it would be felt differently from how adults experience pain) has said that the issue is complex and has little relevance in the case of abortion, “since most abortions are performed before the fetus is capable of experiencing pain.” He refuses to testify in court, claiming that his work is being politicized.

Despite only a tiny percentage of abortions in Wisconsinor nationwide — occurring past the 20-week mark, the measure is considered to be another knock against women’s rights. Already, women in Wisconsin are required to have state-directed counseling at least 24 hours before the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonpartisan reproductive rights and health organization. Counseling also has to be done in person and is designed to discourage the woman from having an abortion.

This bill also does not allow exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or the health of the pregnant woman. When abortions are carried out at this mark, they are often done because the fetus is discovered to have genetic defects.

“Families who experience a pregnancy that has gone tragically wrong deserve help from doctors and access to needed health care without interference from politicians. The medical community uniformly opposes this bill because it prevents physicians from providing individualized care to patients based on their own medical circumstances,” said Nicole Safar of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Walker’s conservative policies have garnered the ire of many of his constituents, leading to a recall election in 2012, which he won. Although he has long been against abortion, in a campaign ad that ran last fall, he said, “I support legislation to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options. The bill [referring to the 2013 piece of legislation he signed] leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor. …Our priority is to protect the health and safety of all Wisconsin citizens.”

Those statements were seen — then and now — as political posturing, as he was running against a woman.

“The truth is that Scott Walker lied to Wisconsin voters when he was elected governor after saying that abortion is between a woman and her doctor,” said Sasha Bruce with abortion rights advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America to the Associated Press. “Now, in an effort to win the votes of the extreme base of the Republican Party, Walker has traded the health and well-being of women and families to score cheap political points.”

According to the Journal-Sentinel, it’s likely that the federal court could get involved. Walker said he’s confident that the ban will be upheld.

PolitFact has rated his views on abortion as more restrictive than those of recent Republican presidentsIn the past four years, since Republicans took over Congress and many state legislatures, abortion has been severely restricted in several states, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Walker may be extreme, but he is hardly unique.

Photo: It’s often a tough decision to abort. Wisconsin, due to Gov. Scott Walker’s signing of a new law restricting abortions after 20 weeks, can make that decision harder. Tacoma Cartoonist/Flickr

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47 Comments

  1. Dominick Vila July 21, 2015

    Another example of what Republicans consider “small government”…

    Reply
    1. itsfun July 21, 2015

      When I read and hear on the news about unborn baby parts being harvested like a ear of corn for profit, I have to wonder if these are living human beings. If these unborn have hearts, livers, lungs, etc, they must feel pain and death as any living being does. It seems like killing babies for profit.

      Reply
      1. dtgraham July 21, 2015

        Planned Parenthood said that
        it’s affiliates “can legally receive reimbursement from a tissue
        donation procedure for the ‘additional expenses related tissue donation,
        which can vary based on individual circumstance,’ but it does not go to
        staff members or providers.” These “additional expenses” might be the
        $10-30 it costs to transport the tissue being donated, which Planned Parenthood notes is “standard across the medical field.” And no, the patient donating the tissue doesn’t receive any financial reimbursement either.

        In reality, the donation of fetal tissue is no different than any other situation
        in which a patient might donate tissue to scientific research. No money
        changes hands, and the donation could help pave the way to any number of medical breakthroughs.

        In other words, this is a case of words being taken grossly out of
        context. Planned Parenthood is doing nothing even remotely shady here,
        nor are they doing something they haven’t publicly discussed before on
        multiple occasions. The real question now, though, is who’s behind this
        whole campaign in the first place.

        The above is from Gawker who had a good article on it.

        Reply
        1. itsfun July 21, 2015

          I really don’t care who is or isn’t getting rich selling baby parts. My concern is if these babies have hearts, lungs, etc. then how much pain do they feel when killed. Another question is if they can feel pain, do they also feel fear when about to be killed?

          Reply
          1. dtgraham July 21, 2015

            Here are your abortion stats from the center for disease control and the Guttmacher institute.

            61.3% were less than 9 weeks.

            17.8% were 9-10 weeks.

            9.6% were 11-12 weeks

            6.7% were 13-15 weeks.

            3.5% were 16-20 weeks.

            1.1% were 21 weeks or more.

            There is no credible medical research suggesting that fetal pain is possible at 20 weeks or less. A woman wanting an abortion doesn’t want to wait any longer than she has to for what I think would be obvious reasons.

            Reply
          2. itsfun July 21, 2015

            Is there any credible medical research suggesting that fetal pain is not possible at 20 weeks or less?
            I am not trying to make a argument for or against abortion, just wondering if a baby has parts that can be harvested like a green bean, can the baby feel pain and/or fear. Just seems to me that if a part is developed enough to tell what it is, it may feel pain.

            Reply
          3. dtgraham July 21, 2015

            The organs or “parts” have nothing to do with it. Pain sensation comes from brain development.

            Fetuses cannot feel pain until at least the 28th week of gestation because they haven’t formed the necessary nerve pathways, says Mark
            Rosen, an obstetrical anesthesiologist at the University of California
            at San Francisco.

            He and his colleagues determined that until the third
            trimester, “the wiring at the point where you feel pain, such as the skin, doesn’t reach the emotional part where you feel pain, in the
            brain.”

            Although fetuses start forming pain receptors eight weeks into development, the thalamus, the part of the brain that routes information
            to other areas, doesn’t form for 20 more weeks. Without the thalamus, Rosen says, no information can reach the cortex for processing.

            Reply
          4. itsfun July 21, 2015

            The determination of one doctor and his “colleagues” is creditable medical evidence? I think not.

            Reply
          5. Wedge Shot July 21, 2015

            Are you a doctor? If not you don’t know a single thing about abortion or fetus’s and are just shooting off your mouth.

            Reply
          6. itsfun July 21, 2015

            don’t recall saying I am a expert in abortions. Just asking a question about pain and possible fear. I do find it ironic that you mention God help us and killing babies in the same sentence. I do believe in abortions in situations where a woman can’t physically continue a pregnancy. Rape and incest are also reasons to have a abortion.

            Reply
          7. dtgraham July 22, 2015

            It’s not just one doctor and his colleagues. Probably the best indication of what I’ve been reading on this is the international journal of obstetrics and gynaecology.

            In surgery the fetus is currently treated as though it feels nothing and is given no analgesia for potentially painful surgical interventions, because the most important evidence is anatomical.

            For the fetus to feel pain it is necessary for the nociceptive pathways to be developed. That involves neural connections between peripheral receptors and the spinal cord, upward transmission from the spinal cord to the thalamus, and from there to the outer cerebral layers. The cerebral cortex is the very last region to develop in the human nervous system and that is too progressive and ascending a process for 20 week old fetuses.

            Reply
          8. johninPCFL November 18, 2015

            Interesting that the fetus being “brain dead” until the 28th week is not part of the discussion. Even the trolls have no argument against harvesting organs from the “brain dead” when their MEDICAL SURROGATE allows it.

            Reply
          9. dtgraham November 19, 2015

            For them, they want to portray this as a strictly theological argument as they define it. You know, life begins at conception. However, I don’t believe that they’re really sincere about any of it. It’s just an electoral wedge issue for Republicans.

            Reply
        2. itsfun July 24, 2015

          Then why are the planned parenthood folks caught on camera saying they want to make enough money to buy a car that costs about $200,000?

          Reply
      2. Dominick Vila July 21, 2015

        I only support abortion when the life of the mother is at stake. However, I think it is very hypocritical for a political party to advocate smaller government and then pass legislation such as this.

        Reply
        1. itsfun July 21, 2015

          I think Gov Walker looks at it as saving lives, not as big or small government.

          Reply
          1. Wedge Shot July 21, 2015

            He is not saving lives because A fetus is not yet born. What walker is doing is crapping on women’s right to have complete control of their own bodies. I support abortion because no one should ever have control of someone else’s body

            Reply
          2. itsfun October 28, 2015

            The right to get pregnant get a abortion and use my tax dollars to do it.

            Reply
          3. Wedge Shot November 1, 2015

            Allowing for the fact that you are knowledge challenged it is against the law for tax dollars to be used for abortions.

            Please educate yourself on the subject before posting nonsense.

            Reply
          4. itsfun November 1, 2015

            The House just voted to stop funding for planned parenthood.
            Planned parenthood performs abortions. Tax dollars fund planned parenthood. Where do think the government gets it money? The government doesn’t create any products to sell. You talk about knowledge challenged. Maybe you need to get educated before you just run your mouth!

            Reply
          5. Wedge Shot November 12, 2015

            Only 3% of what Planned Parenthood does is involved with abortions and those seeking an abortion must pay for that procedure themselves. As I said, it is against the law for Federal funds to be used for abortions. And you are still knowledge challenged. The house will not be able to defund PP becasue the President will veto the bill and there are not enough votes to overcdome his veto..

            Reply
          6. johninPCFL November 17, 2015

            Your tax dollars don’t fund abortions. Private money does. If you want to argue that public money supplants private money and allows abortions to occur that otherwise wouldn’t, we can have that discussion, but don’t lie about it.

            Reply
          7. itsfun November 17, 2015

            My tax dollars fund planned parenthood. Last I looked they perform abortions.

            Reply
          8. johninPCFL November 17, 2015

            Your tax dollars provide 20 – 40%of planned parenthood’s funds (depending on which red state you live in.) Not a single penny of your tax dollars have been used to fund any abortions. If they had, the management or operations directors would have ben arrested, tried, convicted, and fined or jailed.
            Given that none of that has happened, and given that this idiotic crusade has been going on for over a decade with no indictments, no trials, no convictions, and no fines, I think we can safely assure you that your money is safely being used to advise women living in the backwards drooler states where to get rubbers and how to use them when BillyJoeJimBob just HAS to get him some!

            Reply
          9. itsfun November 17, 2015

            Any accountant can make money look like it was spent legally, doesn’t mean it was.

            Reply
          10. johninPCFL November 18, 2015

            If there were any chance, the crusade would have bayed for the heads. Since that didn’t happen, there was no payment of public monies for abortions.

            Again, there is maybe an argument to be made that paying for rubbers for redstate droolers with “gubmint” money frees up private money for abortions. An examination of the actual rates would then compare the rates of abortions when public funds go to PP. My hope would be that the rates stay the same, because in that case, public money doesn’t pay for abortions, nor does it “facilitate” abortions.

            Reply
          11. dtgraham July 22, 2015

            He’s also going to kill and seriously injure a certain number of grown women. Desperate women with no recourse will always try the home-made route as they once did. That’s already being seen now routinely in Texas I hear. If they can’t find the back alley practitioner then out comes the coat hangar.

            Texas ER’s already are reporting that some women emergency patients are admitting that they got their partners to purposely punch them in the stomach, or they douched with Lysol in an attempt to end their pregnancy.

            You’re not going to end abortion. You’re just going to make the situation a whole lot worse.

            Reply
          12. itsfun July 22, 2015

            You’re right, abortion is not going to end. What I have a problem with is people harvesting parts like a ear of corn and selling them. Have you seen the 2 films with planned parenthood people?

            Reply
          13. dtgraham July 23, 2015

            If the donation of fetal tissue for stem cell research and therapy is your issue, then tell me that you’re also against organ donation after death. At least you’ll be consistent.

            Reply
          14. itsfun July 23, 2015

            I can’t compare taking living parts from what may be a living being to taking parts from a dead person.

            Reply
          15. dtgraham July 24, 2015

            It’s not a living being at that point. If tissues are going to be used for research, the physician must determine that after the procedure.

            Intact organs that fit the researcher’s criteria would then be identified at that time, rather than during the abortion procedure when the patient could be affected. Any tissue is used only with the patient’s consent.

            The fetus is no more at that point.

            Reply
          16. itsfun July 24, 2015

            If you want to call a beating heart or breathing lungs just tissue, its ok with me. Abortion is a completely personal issue and should be. I just don’t like the idea of having a abortion, with the intent of harvesting parts like a farmer harvests a corn field and then selling those parts. We will never know if that is the intent of someone, but I would think that that has happened.

            Reply
          17. dtgraham July 24, 2015

            Well, the woman was going to have the abortion anyway so why not use whatever can be used for research and therapy? Like organ donation, the woman is often glad that at least something good came out of a procedure that she wishes she didn’t need. That’s according to Planned Parenthood although I wouldn’t know personally. Makes sense though.

            You have to remember too that those lungs and hearts wouldn’t be viable outside of the womb if that makes a difference to you.

            There isn’t any money in this for the patient so a business of getting pregnant and then selling the parts would be out, as far fetched as that would be. We’re talking piddly amounts here.

            Reply
          18. itsfun July 24, 2015

            I agree that abortions are going to happen and also agree that they should be done by qualified people only. After watching the 2 undercover videos, I find it hard to believe anything that planned parenthood says or publishes.
            Abortions should be done before organs develop.

            Reply
          19. dpaano October 27, 2015

            It is up to the mother to make that decision….not up to you or anyone else!

            Reply
          20. dpaano October 27, 2015

            Actually, the person donating their organs is only “brain dead.” They have to keep the heart pumping in order to harvest viable organs for transplants. So, you are wrong….hospitals are taking living parts from basically living bodies!

            Reply
          21. itsfun October 28, 2015

            ONLY “brain dead”

            Reply
          22. dpaano October 27, 2015

            Oh, you mean the “doctored” ones that the right-wing group put together?

            Reply
    2. dpaano October 27, 2015

      Small government run by small people!

      Reply
  2. dtgraham July 21, 2015

    They finally did it. In replying to a couple of anti-abortion posters over the last 3 years or so here, I asked them what the prison term should be for women and their doctors if abortion is made illegal. I never got a clear answer. Now we know. 3 1/2 years.

    In various ways, Republicans in these states make it next to impossible for many women to get an abortion very early in the pregnancy when virtually all abortions are carried out. If she then somehow finds a way to get one at twenty weeks, it’s off to the crowbar hotel.

    Reply
    1. dpaano October 27, 2015

      Yes, but once the baby is born, they turn their backs on them by taking away any monies needed to care for them….interesting how short their memories are!

      Reply
    2. johninPCFL November 17, 2015

      Yeah, that’ll work fine until Karl Rove’s mistress can’t get an abortion, then he’ll start screaming about the relationship between the “woman and her doctor”.

      Reply
  3. LCR78 July 21, 2015

    I am always amazed that Republicans claim to be for individual rights and then immediately pass laws that intrude in the doctor patient relationship, one of those relationships where the government has little or no business.

    Reply
    1. itsfun October 28, 2015

      Our liberal administration believes everything is its business.

      Reply
      1. johninPCFL November 17, 2015

        Well, maybe them and the entire GOP presidential field. It’s our business what’s going on between a woman and her doctor, between the Syrian citizens and their government, between Putin and the Chechins, and between the Chinese and the (other) Chinese. Seems like the GOP wants a government just small enough to have 250 million police to watch the other 50 million citizens to make sure they “behave”.

        Reply
  4. dpaano October 27, 2015

    Until a man gets pregnant and has a baby, he has NOTHNG to say about bearing children! It’s always the men advocating abortion, and they know NOTHING about having babies!!!

    Reply
    1. itsfun October 28, 2015

      Yep, The only rights a man has is to pay for the baby. How dare any father wants any rights at all.

      Reply

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