MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said Tuesday it is “blasphemy” and “horrific” for President Donald Trump to say that doctors in the state want to execute babies.
Evers was reacting to comments Trump made Saturday during a rally in Green Bay. Trump said then it was “shocking” that Evers planned to veto a “born alive” abortion bill that requires doctors to keep babies alive following a failed abortion.
“Your Democratic governor shockingly stated he will veto legislation that would protect Wisconsin babies,” Trump said at the rally. “The baby’s born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully and then the doctor and the mother determine whether they will execute the baby.”
Evers said he rejects Trump’s assertion that doctors are killing babies after a failed abortion.
“To say that doctors in the state of Wisconsin are executing babies is just a blasphemy,” Evers said at a Milwaukee Press Club event in response to questions from reporters. “It doesn’t happen. ... That is just a horrific thing to say.”
Evers said doctors aren’t killing babies and if they did there are already laws on the books to address it. If Republicans “are so damn interested in making sure moms and babies are well, they should really get behind my Medicaid expansion bill,” Evers said, eliciting applause from some in the audience.
“The president is the president,” Evers said of Trump. “He’s going to do this kind of crap as long as he is president.”
A public hearing on the “born alive” bill was scheduled for May 7 in a state Assembly health committee. If it passes the Republican-controlled Legislature, Evers has said he will veto it.
Backers of the proposal that could send doctors to prison for life say even one baby killed following a failed abortion would be too many. But opponents, including abortion rights advocates and doctors, say it almost never happens and in the rare instances when it does, existing laws already make killing the babies a crime.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded 143 instances nationwide in which live births were caused by an attempted abortion between 2003 and 2014, an average of just 13 a year across the entire country.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services doesn’t track such births because Wisconsin bans non-emergency abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, well before the generally accepted age of viability which the U.S. Supreme Court said in the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973 is between 24 weeks and 28 weeks.
About 1% of abortions in Wisconsin happen after the 20th week, but only in emergency cases where the life of the mother is at risk. The state has no data on how many of those babies survived the abortion.
Republicans around the country have been pushing for laws that would require doctors to care for babies in such situations in an attempt to energize their conservative base. North Carolina’s governor vetoed one of those bills last week and Democrats in the U.S. Senate blocked a similar measure in February, leading Trump to say “they don’t mind executing babies.”