Wisconsin state legislatures are currently crafting legislation that would ban abortions after the 20th week of a pregnancy, with exceptions of rape, incest and life of the mother.
The legislation is expected to carry punishments for doctors who illegally perform abortions after the 20-week period. If caught, doctors may face a felony charge, up to $10,000 in fines or three and a half years in prison, The Washington Times reported.
State representatives who are continuing to update their legislation say that the bill will stop fetuses from being harmed during the abortion process.
“I believe we have a duty and a moral obligation to protect these children from the horrific procedures used to snuff out their lives,” Republican state Rep. Jesse Kremer said in a statement.
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Doctors cannot agree on when a fetus would feel pain during an abortion. While some doctors agree that the 20 week period is when the fetus can feel pain, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say that it is the 27th week of pregnancy, or the third trimester, when the fetus can feel pain.
Current laws in Wisconsin bans abortion when the fetus “reaches viability,” which most doctors agree occurs at 24 weeks, The LaCrosse Tribune wrote.
Other lawmakers have already publicly voiced their opposition to the measure even before it was presented to the legislature in full detail.
The state’s Senate Minority Leader wrote in a statement that the legislation would put women’s lives in harm’s way.
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“This bill will jeopardize women’s safety and prevent health professionals from making life-saving medical decisions,” wrote Democratic Sen. Jennifer Shilling.
“We need to protect a woman’s freedom to make decision about her health care and prevent further political intrusion into personal decisions that are best left to a woman, her doctor, her family and her faith,” she continued.
Currently, 10 other states have similar restrictions on when abortions become illegal.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican who is widely seen as a 2016 presidential contender, voiced his support for the legislation if it were to make it to his desk.
“I’m pro-life, but I think whether you’re pro-life or not, after five months, when an unborn child can feel pain … the majority of people believe that’s a realistic requirement,” the Governor said to reporters in Milwaukee.
According to the latest statistics from the Department of Health Services, 89 of 6,500 abortions performed in 2013 were prior to the 20th week of a pregnancy.
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