On Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) will formally kick off his presidential campaign, but before he does, the Republican governor has one more culture-war accomplishment he’ll add to his list. As msnbc’s Irin Carmon reported last night, state lawmakers have now approved a 20-week abortion ban, which Walker is ready to sign into law.
In October, during a gubernatorial re-election campaign that featured a Walker campaign ad soft-pedaling his stance on abortion, Walker had evaded a direct answer on his position on such a bill. “Those are things that we’ll have to talk about in the next legislative session if it comes up,” Walker said in October.But the Republican Wisconsin Senate majority leader told the New York Times last month that Walker did, in fact, have a lot to say about the bill: He asked for a 20-week abortion ban bill that contained no exceptions for rape and incest.
In other words, Walker can’t very well say he was just going along with the wishes of the Republican-led legislature – the governor specifically requested this legislation and dictated its provisions.
It appears to be his springboard into the presidential race.
Walker’s office has already told reporters he’ll sign the bill, which makes it a felony to terminate a pregnancy after 20 weeks, threatening doctors with a three-year prison sentence, though it’s unclear exactly when the governor will put his signature on the legislation.
As regular readers may recall, roughly 99% of abortions occur before the 21st week of a pregnancy, which means these later terminations often involve “rare, severe fetal abnormalities and real threats to a woman’s health.” It’s why the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is so strongly against proposals like these.
In fact, just this week, the 99 physicians who belong to the Wisconsin chapter of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists urged policymakers to reject the proposal. “This is bad medicine, based on the thoroughly debunked fallacy that a 20-week fetus – which is not viable – can feel pain,” the doctors said.
Wisconsin’s Republican policymakers, evidently, are ignoring them.
For context, let’s not forget that Walker also created a state-mandated ultrasound law – which he’s repeatedly mischaracterized – requiring patients to undergo a medically unnecessary procedure before exercising their rights.
Shortly before his re-election bid last year, Walker also issued a campaign TV ad in which, in the context of the abortion debate, the governor defended leaving these decisions “to a woman and her doctor.”
Nine months later, the Republican candidate’s rhetoric seems almost cruel.