Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law a controversial new bill banning abortions after 20 weeks with the exception of the health of the mother.
Gov. Walker, who last week announced his bid for the 2016 presidential nomination, signed Senate Bill 179 into law on Monday, Fox News reports. The measure does not include exemptions for rape and incest and would disallow abortions after 20 weeks except to save the mother's life or if she would suffer major, irreparable physical harm within the next 24 hours.
This legislation makes performing a late-term abortion a felony, carrying a punishment of up to three and a half years in prison and up to $10,000, reports Politico. The parents of children aborted after that point can also sue abortionists for damages under the terms of the law.
"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," Walker said on Monday when signing the bill into law, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
He also argued that a child's ability to feel pain constitutes a "reasonable standard" for the state to offer protection. "At five months, that's the time when that unborn child can feel pain," he added. "When an unborn child can feel pain, we should be protecting that child."
The new law has been condemned by many in the pro-abortion community, who say it is both "dangerous" and disrespectful to "half the population of Wisconsin."
"The harsh reality is that this law will hurt women, as it puts up barriers to care for rape and incest survivors - no exceptions - and threatens the health of the mother," Kaylie Hanson, speaking for the Democratic National Committee, said. "This law doesn't only undermine the most basic women's health services. It's radical, dangerous, and lacks respect for half the population of Wisconsin."
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton also slammed Walker on Twitter for the new law, writing, "Gov. Walker signed dangerous abortion restrictions into law in WI - without exceptions for rape or incest. Extreme and unacceptable. -H."
In turn, Walker responded to Clinton in a follow-up Tweet, writing, "Hillary shows she's out of touch with the majority of Americans who believe babies at 5 months deserve life."
SB 179 was introduced in May by Republican State Senator Mary Lazich and referred to the Committee on Health and Human Services, where in early June it was recommended in a vote of three ayes to two nays.
Later in June it was passed by the Senate in a vote of 19 ayes to 14 nays and then in July it passed the Assembly in a vote of 61 ayes, 34 nays, and two abstentions.
LifeSiteNews notes that late-term abortions account for approximately one percent of all abortions, both nationwide and in Wisconsin. The Department of Health Services recorded 89 such abortions in 2013, out of 6,642 total abortions.
The governor's signature makes Wisconsin the 15th state to pass similar bans. Eleven are in effect, while three states -- Arizona, Georgia, and Idaho -- have had their laws halted by a judicial ruling.