Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker [official website] on Monday signed into law the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act [materials], limiting the ability of a woman to seek an abortion more than 20 weeks into her pregnancy. Proponents of the bill say it is designed to prohibit women from seeking an abortion that may cause pain to the fetus. Wisconsin Senator Scott Fitzgerald [official website] voted for the bill and stated in a press release [text], “[t]his bill is about protecting unborn children from being tortured, and should be neither partisan nor controversial.” Opponents of the bill, including Wisconsin Senator Jon Erpenbach [official website], argue [press release] that it interferes with women’s health rights. Having been passed by the Wisconsin Senate [JURIST report] and State Assembly, the bill is now law, though it is expected to be challenged [AP report] in court.
Abortion [JURIST archive] related issues have been a heated topic of discussion for the past several years in the US. Earlier this month, the North Carolina legislature gave final approval [JURIST report] to the Women and Children’s Protection Act of 2015, which mandates a 72-hour waiting period for abortions after a woman has been informed of her options and the risks of the procedure, except in the case of a medical emergency. In May the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] struck down [JURIST report] two parts of Idaho abortion laws—one which banned all abortions after 20 weeks, and the other which required that women seeking abortions in their second trimester do so in a hospital. Also in May Tennessee adopted a law [JURIST report] that requires 48-hour waiting periods for women seeking an abortion. In April Alabama state representative Teri Collins proposed a bill to ban abortion [JURIST report] once a fetal heartbeat has been detected.