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Wis. Gov. Walker Says He Would Support 20-Week Abortion Ban

March 4, 2015 — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) in an open letter on Tuesday said he would sign a measure banning abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy, if such a bill reaches his desk, the New York Times' "First Draft" reports (Gabriel, "First Draft," New York Times, 3/3).

The letter was released by the antiabortion-rights group Susan B. Anthony List, on letterhead from Walker's campaign (Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/3).

Walker wrote in the letter, "As the Wisconsin Legislature moves forward in the coming session, further protections for mother and child are likely to come to my desk in the form of a bill to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. I will sign that bill when it gets to my desk and support similar legislation on the federal level."

According to "First Draft," Walker declined to say during his 2014 re-election campaign whether he would support such a measure. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asked him about the issue four times in an interview during the race ("First Draft," New York Times, 3/3).

Walker in the letter also highlighted actions in support of his antiabortion-rights stance, including blocking funding to Planned Parenthood and signing legislation (SB 206) requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The admitting privileges requirement is currently on hold pending the results of federal litigation.

Reaction

Julaine Appling -- president of Wisconsin Family Action, which supports 20-week abortion bans -- applauded Walker's move to take a stance on the issue. She said it shows that Walker "understands that this kind of bill is helpful in advancing the pro-life position."

Meanwhile, Nicole Safar, public policy director at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, said Walker's announcement was politically motivated.

Similarly, state Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D) said the governor "is showing his true colors as he continues to woo the voters of Iowa" (AP/Chicago Tribune, 3/3).

According to Politico, Walker joins most of the other expected contenders for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination by supporting a ban on abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy.

SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said the exception is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who has not announced a position on 20-week bans. She encouraged him to also take a stance in support of such legislation (Hohmann, Politico, 3/3).