The GOP-majority Wisconsin State Senate on Tuesday passed a bill to ban abortion at 20 weeks post-fertilization, a measure that Gov. Scott Walker has pledged he will sign if it gets to his desk.
Eleven Republican state senators introduced SB 179 in late May, along with an identical state assembly bill. Both bills would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks based on the dubious claim that the fetus can feel pain at that point. That claim has been disputed by the medical community, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association.
The measure passed on Tuesday would allow “the woman on whom the abortion was performed or attempted, and the father of the unborn child, unless the pregnancy is the result of sexual assault or incest,” to sue the attending physician if the abortion happens after the 20-week mark, a felony crime punishable with three and a half years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
Though the measure would create an exception when the woman is experiencing a medical emergency, the bill states that in such a case, the physician must terminate the pregnancy in a way that “provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive.”
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The bill would also require that the physician tell the pregnant person, orally and in writing, “of the probable postfertilization age of the unborn child and the numerical odds of survival for an unborn child delivered at the probable postfertilization age,” along with other state-mandated counseling given 24 hours before the abortion.
The physician would also have to tell the pregnant person about the availability of perinatal hospice.
The bill was sent to the assembly for approval after being passed by the senate this week. An identical assembly bill, AB 237, was given a public hearing last week.
Twenty-week bans haven’t held up to legal scrutiny in other states, and have been blocked in Arizona, Georgia, and Idaho.
Walker, a GOP presidential candidate who had just this year said that the right to terminate a pregnancy is protected by the Supreme Court, in March announced that he would sign a 20-week ban on abortion.
At least 13 states have introduced 20 weeks bans this year. West Virginia’s is the only one, so far, to become law.