Walker signs anti-abortion bill, prompts lawsuit

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, R.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood national and state organizations filed a federal legal challenge against Wisconsin's new anti-abortion measure, which was signed into law on July 5 by Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

The law, which also requires women seeking abortions to undergo ultrasounds, will take effect next Monday, unless the court imposes an injunction.

A statement from the governor's office announcing the signing of Senate Bill 206 said it "relates to requirements to perform abortions, requiring an ultrasound before informed consent for an abortion, and providing a penalty. 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. Women have a choice as to the ultrasound they receive. Pregnancies that are the result of a sexual assault or incest are excluded from this legislation. Senate Bill 206 passed the Senate on a vote of 17 – 15 and the Assembly on a vote of 56 – 39. Senate Bill 206 is Act 37."

A news release from the ACLU said the measure will "severely restrict women’s access to safe and legal abortion in a state where access is already heavily restricted. Two of only four health centers providing safe and legal abortion today could be forced to close."

The law requires every doctor who performs an abortion at a clinic to have staff privileges at a local hospital. Yet doctors and leading medical groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Wisconsin Public Health Association, oppose the requirement because it prevents women from getting safe, quality care.

The law, said ACLU of Wisconsin legal director Larry Dupuis, will "drastically limit a woman’s ability to obtain a safe and legal abortion in Wisconsin by imposing burdensome and medically unnecessary requirements on doctors that provide this essential care."

He continued, "This law was rammed through the legislature in a matter of days and now, with a stroke of his pen, the governor has put the very health and well-being of Wisconsin women and families at immediate risk."

The news release announcing the suit said the law will force Affiliated Medical Services in Milwaukee and Planned Parenthood’s health center in Appleton to close. Also, it will force Planned Parenthood’s health center in Milwaukee to cut staff and curtail services.

“With this 11th hour attack on women’s health, Wisconsin has now joined the ranks of Mississippi, Alabama, and others, in a national campaign to outlaw abortion,” stated Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "Enough is enough. Politicians can no longer be permitted to shut down clinics that provide safe abortions and prevent a woman from making the best decision for her and her family.”

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said, "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. The health and safety of American women are at stake — and that is why this unconstitutional law cannot be allowed to stand."

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