The state of Wisconsin has now banned abortions 20 weeks into pregnancy, on the grounds that unborn children feel pain, joining more than a dozen states with similar laws. “Today is a great day for unborn babies in the state of Wisconsin,” Heather Weininger, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life, said July 20. She said the bill authors and other supporters recognized the state’s compelling interest in protecting unborn babies “at the point when they can feel excruciating pain from abortion.” The bill passed the state Senate by a vote of 19-14, and the Assembly by a vote of 61-34, in an extraordinary session of the legislature. Gov. Scott Walker, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, spoke with reporters after he signed the bill on Monday. “For people, regardless of where they might stand — when an unborn child can feel pain, I think most people feel it's appropriate to protect that child,” he said. During his 2014 re-election campaign the governor would not say whether he supported the ban. He voiced his support for the bill in March. The bill bars abortion 20 weeks or more after fertilization except in case of a medical emergency. “Under the bill, no person can perform or induce an abortion when the unborn child is considered to be capable of experiencing pain,” the governor’s office said. Those who perform an illegal abortion can face a felony charge punishable by up to three and a half years in prison and $10,000 in fines. Doctors can also be sued for damages. Fourteen other U.S. states have similar restrictions on abortion, though several laws are facing legal challenges, the Associated Press reports. The Wisconsin bill was opposed by abortion providers and pro-abortion advocacy groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which contends that the unborn child cannot feel pain until 27 weeks into pregnancy.
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