Reality Check: Dueling ads detail abortion bill

Reality Check: Dueling ads detail abortion bill

A pair of ads running this week in the governor’s race speak directly to women’s issues and provide differing takes on an abortion bill passed last session.

The ad run by a national women’s group starts by showing a physician in an exam room.

“I don’t like anybody getting between me and my patients,” says a woman identified as Meg, a nurse practitioner.

“Meg” is Meg Robertson, director of clinical services for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, an organization providing birth control, health care and abortions to women in the state.

The ad itself was paid for by Women Vote Wisconsin, which is an arm of Emily’s List, a national political action committee that aims to ignite change by getting pro-choice women elected to office.

“I was outraged when I found out Scott Walker quietly signed a law trying to restrict doctors from performing abortions,” Meg says in the ad.

News 3 finds this needs clarification. Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill in a private ceremony last year that required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals at most 30 minutes away.

Supporters of the law said it made abortions safer, while Planned Parenthood said it would cause some clinics to close and reduce access to abortions. The group argues that not all doctors qualify for privileges if they don’t refer a minimum number of patients to that hospital per year, and filed a lawsuit against the state.

A federal judge has blocked the law from going into effect until his formal decision on the matter, which is expected at any time.

“Scott Walker wants to make all abortions illegal, even in case of rape and incest,” Meg says in the ad.

News 3 finds this is true, as far as we can tell. Walker said in 2010 and 2011 that this was his position and his website reiterates that he is 100 percent pro-life. News 3 asked again Wednesday whether he wanted all abortions to be illegal.

“That’s not even an option in the state,” Walker said. “The Supreme Court more than 40 years ago ruled that is not an option.”

News 3 asked the campaign to clarify his position, and an email from a spokeswoman said simply “he’s pro-life.”

That’s also the message the governor gives in his latest ad.

“I’m pro-life, but there’s no doubt in my mind the decision of whether or not to end a pregnancy is an agonizing one,” Walker says in the ad. “That’s why I support legislation to increase safety and provide more information for a woman considering her options.”

News 3 finds this needs clarification. Walker did support and sign the bill about admitting privileges. As for the more information Walker references, that measure also included a requirement that is still in effect, that a woman get an ultrasound before any abortion and have the doctor display and explain that ultrasound to the patient.

“The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor,” Walker says in the ad.

News 3 finds this also needs clarification. The final decision on getting an abortion is between a woman and her doctor, but that’s not something the bill details or the state has any say over. As the governor mentioned in his response to our question, the U.S. Supreme Court said in 1973’s Roe v. Wade that a woman has a constitutional right to an abortion.

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