Wisconsin governor signs tougher abortion bill

Mgn Online
Saturday, July 6, 2013 - 9:42am

Wisconsin became the latest state Friday to legislate tighter abortion laws after Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed a controversial bill that requires women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion.

"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," the governor's office said in a statement.

The law requires medical providers to display the ultrasound images "so that the pregnant woman may view them" before she undergoes a procedure. She must be given a medical description of the images, as well as the dimensions of the fetus and a description of external features or internal organs that are present. The woman also must be provided a means to see any heartbeat, according to the law.

The bill, which passed the Republican-controlled Legislature in June, also places stricter standards on abortion clinics by prohibiting doctors without admitting privileges at local hospitals from performing abortions.

Pregnancies that result from rape or incest are excluded from the requirements.

According to the law, the ultrasound provision lets women choose between transvaginal and abdominal ultrasounds.

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia faced fierce opposition last year over intrusiveness concerns when he supported a transvaginal ultrasound requirement. He later pushed for lawmakers to amend the bill, saying such a mandate was not a "proper role for the state."

Opponents of the Wisconsin law say the provision requiring admitting privileges could effectively shut down two abortion clinics in the state. Planned Parenthood announced Friday it will file a lawsuit in federal court to block the law, arguing some women may now have to travel at least an extra 200 miles to have a legal abortion.

"Whether during special legislative sessions, at midnight votes, or in courthouses across the country, Planned Parenthood is fighting deeply unpopular and dangerous attacks on women's health every step of the way," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. "The health and safety of American women are at stake - and that is why this unconstitutional law cannot be allowed to stand."

Anti-abortion activists in Texas are fighting to pass a restrictive abortion bill, which would impose more regulations on abortion providers in the state and ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. And the North Carolina Legislature voted this week to increase a number of standards for abortion clinics, but the governor has yet to act on the bill.

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