Advocacy and Health Policy |

ACOG Wisconsin Section Opposes 20-Week Abortion Ban Bill

Washington, DC—The following is a statement from Kathy D. Hartke, MD, Chair of the Wisconsin Section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG):


“ACOG Wisconsin strongly opposes legislative attempts to ban abortions after 20 weeks gestation and urges Wisconsin lawmakers to reject proposals that attempt to do so. This bill, if passed, would represent a blow to women’s access to needed reproductive services. The clear consensus by leading medical groups is that a 20-week ban on abortion would interfere with the physician-patient relationship at a time when women are in need of empathetic, respectful care. These medical decisions should be made solely by each individual woman in consultation with those she trusts the most, including her obstetrician-gynecologist – not state politicians.

“Robust evidence has thoroughly discredited arguments used to support this proposed ban; these arguments are biased, not grounded in science.

“As an obstetrician-gynecologist, I have firsthand experience treating women who are confronting the potential need for a second trimester abortion. I have witnessed the many heartbreaking, painful and frightening reasons why women need abortion care after 20 weeks. Yet this ban would force physicians to deny services even to women who have made the difficult decision to end pregnancies for reasons including fetal anomalies diagnosed only later in pregnancy or threat to a mother’s life. Because many of these problems emerge or worsen later in pregnancy, a 20-week ban would leave almost all women without appropriate treatment options. In addition, threatening doctors with jail time for providing clinically appropriate care violates the sanctity of the physician-patient relationship, and is just wrong.

“Without question, criminalizing abortion only serves to jeopardize patient safety. Research and experience have shown that where abortion is illegal or highly restricted, women resort to desperate, dangerous means to end an unwanted pregnancy. We must not impose restrictions that will encourage this to happen at home in Wisconsin. Furthermore, the passing of this law may force some women to consider termination of pregnancy before they have appropriate counseling due to the time constraints. There is as much, if not more, of a possibility that it could lead to providing abortions to women carrying fetuses with potentially treatable outcomes.

“Medical care must be guided by sound science and by the patient’s individual needs – not by legislative mandates. Wisconsin’s ob-gyns strongly oppose this bill, which would limit the ability of women to get the care that they need, when they need it.”

A detailed discussion of the Wisconsin bill and the reasons why ACOG Wisconsin opposes it can be found here.

Representing 532 practicing ob-gyn physicians in the state, Wisconsin ACOG is a Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 58,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization.