In an open letter released on Tuesday, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker said he would sign legislation banning most abortions after the fifth month of pregnancy, the point after which infants can feel pain and survive if born prematurely.
"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," Walker wrote. "I was raised to believe in the sanctity of life and I will always fight to protect it."
Walker's letter was released the same day that Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, was in Washington, D.C. to speak at an event hosted by EMILY's List, an organization that that opposes bans on partial-birth or late-term abortion and supports taxpayer-funded abortion. EMILY's List is well known for its absolutist position on the issue; the organization withdrew its support of pro-choice Democratic senator Blanche Lincoln as retribution for Lincoln's vote in favor of a ban on partial-birth abortion.
Walker's letter was obtained in response to a request from the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life organization that has been asking potential presidential candidates to pledge support for legislation banning abortions that occur later than 20 weeks after conception. When Walker was asked in an October 2014 interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about signing such legislation, he declined to directly answer the question, saying, "Those are things that we’ll have to talk about in the next legislative session if it comes up."
According to the SBA List, the list of potential Republican presidential candidates who have pledged support for the late-term abortion ban now includes Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Mike Pence, and Carly Fiorina.
Polling shows that a strong majority of Americans support the legislation, which the House of Representatives passed in 2013. An identical version of the bill was scheduled for a vote in January of this year, but the bill was pulled from the floor after some Republicans objected to a provision they previously voted for. Members of Congress say they still expect a vote on the bill this year.