The American anti-abortion legislation trend intensified even more this week. Scott Walker, a member of the Republican Party and the current Governor of Wisconsin, has effectively placed a ban on all abortions after 20 weeks in his presiding state. What’s the reason behind this action? Walker claims that fetuses begin to feel pain at that time in the gestational period – which is quite simply not a fact.
The Governor is using the new bill to tout a narrative of fetal protection. In a statement, Walker claimed “when an unborn child can feel pain, we should be protecting that child.” But, this presumption is based off of very little, and science continues to disagree. The former president of the Fetal Medicine and Surgery Society Dr. Fisk has solidified, along with numerous other doctors, that pain is impossible for a fetus before 24 weeks. Despite this, though, many Right-Wing and conservative thinkers have held on to the statements of a few doctors, rather than listening to the larger medical community. And, even after a community of 100 Wisconsin doctors penned a letter explaining bill SB179/AB237 would obstruct their ability to effectively do their jobs.
This ban has a lot less to do with health than it does about political mobility. Scott Walker recently announced his GOP run for the 2016 election. Abortion has continued to be a rallying point for Republicans since the iconic Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973. Undermining the thirty-year ruling has begun to increase as the election draws nearer and nearer. It seems that Republicans are reading their data wrong when they presume the majority of Americans support their efforts. According to a Huffington Post poll, 63 percent of people agree that the decision to abort a pregnancy should be between women and doctors and on their own terms.
Walker’s action, which is in-line with the vast majority of Republican GOP members, is troubling on one hand as it utilizes a language of pain and medical care in the hopes of selfish political gain. On the other, it severely undermines the right to choice for every woman in the state of Wisconsin. As of 2011, 96 percent of Wisconsin counties already had no abortion services available.
Further restrictions in an already sparsely covered state leaves women with fewer options, less support, and could lead to further stigmatization.