Scott Walker

GOP presidential hopeful Scott Walker signs 20-week abortion ban in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who recently launched his presidential campaign, signed a 20-week abortion ban into law today

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed a bill into law on Monday that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the mother’s life is in danger. The legislation, which passed the GOP-controlled state legislature earlier this month, makes no exceptions for severe fetal anomalies or for victims of rape and incest.

Walker, a 2016 presidential candidate, said he supports the legislation because fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks — an assertion that has been disputed by the mainstream medical community.

That makes Wisconsin the 15th state to pass such a ban. In addition to being blatantly unconstitutional — which the courts have affirmed in Idaho, Arizona, and Georgia so far — it will prevent doctors from being able to treat their “patients in a medically appropriate and humane manner,” as a group of 100 ob-gyns attested in a letter opposing the legislation. “This bill,” they wrote, “would undoubtedly place us in the unconscionable position of having to watch our patients and their loved ones undergo emotional trauma, illness and suffering during what is already a difficult time.”

Gov. Walker, though, has made it perfectly clear that he has no qualms at all about such cruel interference in the doctor-patient relationship. Though he’s always had an anti-choice record, last year, during his re-election campaign, he ran misleading ads suggesting he’s a moderate on abortion rights. As he’s prepared to make a presidential bid, however, he’s sought to bolster his anti-choice credentials. In an interview last week, he said that, contrary to his claim in the 2014 ad, he does not believe that “the final decision should be between a woman and her doctor.” Noted.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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