This week, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker signed a law protecting the lives of infants after the fifth month of pregnancy (or 20 weeks after conception), a point in human development when babies can feel pain and survive long-term if born prematurely.
The law includes an exeption for cases in which a physical health issue endangers the life of the mother, but Hillary Clinton still denounced the late-term abortion ban as an “extreme and unacceptable” measure:
Gov. Walker signed dangerous abortion restrictions into law in WI – without exceptions for rape or incest. Extreme and unacceptable. -H
8:43 PM – 20 Jul 2015
Clinton especially objects to the fact that Wisconsin’s law doesn’t include an exception to allow the killing of infants late in pregnancies that resulted from rape. But laws in the blue states of Pennsylvania and New York (which take effect, respectively, at 22 weeks and 24 weeks after conception) also prohibit late-term abortions in that circumstance. Does Clinton think liberal New York’s aboriton law is also “extreme and unacceptable”?
Scott Walker responded to Clinton with the following tweet:
@HillaryClinton attacks me for protecting life after 5 months, but won’t condemn disgusting Planned Parenthood videos. -SW
5:44 PM – 21 Jul 2015
Republicans in Congress have not only tolerated the legality of abortion in pregnancies that result from rape, they have voted since 1993 for laws allowing federal Medicaid funding of abortions in these extreme cases in order to prohibit funding in more than 99 percent of other cases. But even if one accepts this exception for principled or prudential reasons, it does not follow that this exception must exist in the ninth month of pregnancy.
So does Clinton support any limits on abortion? She has given conflicting answers over the years, and her campaign still hasn’t answered several questions about her position on late-term abortion and taxpayer-funded abortion:
In 2005, Hillary Clinton said that “government should have no role” in limiting the right to abortion – a remark very similar to the one made by Wasserman Schultz this week. “This decision, which is one of the most fundamental, difficult, and soul-searching decisions a woman and a family can make, is also one in which the government should have no role,” Clinton said at the time.
But at other times, Clinton has claimed that she’d be willing to support a ban on late-term abortion. “I have said many times that I can support a ban on late-term abortions, including partial-birth abortions, so long as the health and life of the mother is protected,” Clinton said in a 2000 New York senatorial debate. Clinton did not define “health,” and supporters of a right to abortion have typically defined health exceptions so broadly–to include “mental and emotional” health–that any restriction on late-term abortion would be rendered meaningless. (In 2008, Barack Obama endorsed late-term abortion bans without a mental health exception, but quickly backtracked.)
So would Secretary Clinton support any federal law restricting late-term abortion? If so, how many weeks old must an unborn child be for the law to protect her? Must any restriction on late-term abortion include a “mental and emotional” health exception? And does Clinton still support taxpayer-funded elective abortions for Medicaid recipients?