Wisconsin Assembly approves bill banning abortions after 20 weeks, sends to governor

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 09, 2015 4:41 PM

By Brendan O'Brien

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Assembly gave final legislative approval on Thursday to a measure banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the mother has a medical emergency.

Representatives approved the bill by a vote of 61-34, sending it to Governor Scott Walker for his signature. Walker, who is set to announce his candidacy on Monday for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, will sign the bill into law, a spokeswoman for the governor has said.

The bill, which makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, was passed 19-14 by the Republican-led state Senate on June 9. It prohibits abortions 20 weeks after fertilization, when some abortion rights opponents believe the unborn child is capable of experiencing pain.

"This atrocity can no longer be tolerated here in Wisconsin," Representative Jesse Kremer, a Republican and the bill's author, said before Thursday's vote.

Doctors found guilty of violating its provisions face fines of $10,000 and up to 3-1-/2 years in prison.

"This goes beyond misplaced priorities within the Assembly leadership and is a demonstration of politics at it worst," Tanya Atkinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, said in a statement.

With Walker's signature, Wisconsin would join 12 other states with similar bans on abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that tracks the issue.

In May, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an Idaho ban on abortions after 20 weeks was unconstitutional.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Peter Cooney)