Wisconsin’s 20-week abortion ban waiting for Scott Walker signature
Bill passes assembly and goes to governor Scott Walker. Legislation includes medical emergency exemptions but opponents say requirements are onerous
The Wisconsin legislature on Thursday passed a controversial bill that would ban women from seeking abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
The bill passed the state assembly after emotional testimony from lawmakers on both sides of the debate. The state senate approved the legislation in June.
Under the legislation, doctors and medical professionals who perform abortions could face criminal charges, punishable by $10,000 in fines or three-and-a-half years in prison. The legislation allows fathers to sue doctors for damages.
Though the bill carves out exemptions for medical emergencies, women and their doctors have to meet a series of requirements that opponents say are too onerous.
Wisconsin is the 15th state to pass a bill prohibiting abortion at 20 weeks or earlier, though bans in Georgia, Idaho and Arizona have been struck down by courts. The bans are rooted in the belief that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks, a claim that has been disputed in medical research.
The laws challenge the fetal viability standard on abortions established by the 1973 US supreme court decision Roe v Wade, which legalized abortions. Fetal viability is generally believed to occur between 22 and 24 weeks.
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