Wisconsin Gov. signs strict abortion law requiring ultrasound


Women protest for continued funding of Planned Parenthood outside Hofstra University prior to the second presidential debate on October 16, 2012 in Hempstead, New York. A federal appeals court ruled on October 23, 2012 that Indiana could not cut funding for Planned Parenthood just because it provides abortions.


Andrew Burton

Women seeking abortions in Wisconsin will now be required to view an ultrasound of the fetus and be treated by a doctor with admitting privileges to a hospital under a new law signed by Republican Governor Scott Walker.

The controversial law will require ultrasound technicians to describe the dimensions of the fetus, its external features and its heartbeat.

Abortion providers will also now be required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, a tough requirement that will be difficult to meet.

Republicans argue that the bill is in the interest of women's safety.

"This bill improves a woman's ability to make an informed choice that will protect her physical and mental health now and in the future," said a press release issued after the signing.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin president Teri Huyck told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the law will force two of the state's four clinics to close. One remaining clinic will have to reduce the number of abortions it provides by half.

"When women don't have access to safe, legal abortions, there are health consequences and women die," said Huyck.

Planned Parenthood and the state's other abortion provider Affiliated Medical Services announced Friday that they were planning to sue the state in federal court, contending it violates the constitution's due process guarantee.

"I think we have extremely strong grounds on the harm to patients," Larry Dupuis, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney representing Affiliated Medical Services, told the Journal Sentinel.

"This clearly imposes a significant burden on women seeking abortions when abortion is perfectly legal."

Wisconsin now joins several other states with tough new laws restricting access to abortion.

North Dakota, Alabama and Arkansas are all facing court challenges to new laws that opponents say dramatically restrict the availability of abortions.

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