Governor Scott Walker on Monday morning signed controversial legislation into law that would ban abortions past the 20 week mark in a pregnancy.
The governor signed the bill during a ceremony in Oshkosh, a week after launching his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Walker said the bill is needed to protect children from feeling the pain of an abortion, which he and backers argue is possible at 20 weeks gestation. Walker said “when an unborn child can feel pain, most people think it’s important to protect that child.”
AUDIO: Gov. Scott Walker (:44)
The claim on fetal pain has been widely disputed by the medical community, with most experts arguing it’s not possible for a fetus to feel pain until much later in a pregnancy. During the legislative debate, multiple medical groups pushed back against the proposal.
The law would only allow abortions to be performed past the 20 week mark if the life of the mother is in danger. Otherwise it would be a felony for doctors, with up to 3 1/2 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
A federal court challenge is likely, due to the law not including exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the mother. However, groups on both sides of the debate are unsure when or where it may come from. Only a single provider in the state offers abortions after the 20 week mark, and the procedure is really performed.