On Friday, Governor Scott Walker (R) of Wisconsin signed into law a bill that would require all abortion providers to attain hospital admitting privileges. In addition, the law will now require women seeking an abortion to first receive an ultrasound before undergoing the procedure. The law is scheduled to take effect July 8.
The regulations for abortion clinics outlined in the law will decrease access to abortions, closing all clinics in Wisconsin north of Madison, and eliminating access to abortion after 19 weeks throughout the entire state.In addition, women seeking an abortion will be forced to “view an ultrasound” and have a physician or ultrasound technician describe the fetus and its stage of development in detail. For women who are early in a pregnancy, this could mean having to go through a “transvaginal ultrasound“to even view the fetus. There are no provisions in the bill about funding for the mandatory ultrasounds, creating an additional barrier for some women. Supporters of the bill argue that women can find clinics that offer free ultrasounds before their procedures. Many of these clinics are Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) which use medically inaccurate information and religious ideology to pressure women to carry their pregnancies to term.
In response to this newly passed legislation, Wisconsin clinics that currently offer abortion services have filed a lawsuit in federal court against all members of the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board. They are challenging the law as unconstitutional by arguing that doctors providing abortion services (which have been decried as legal medical procedures by the Supreme Court) will now lack the guarantee of due process within the state.
According to the Guttmacher Institute (http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_TRAP.pdf), Wisconsin is the 8th state to pass hospital admitting laws for abortion clinics. Guttmacher also found that in the first six months of 2013, state legislatures enacted 106 provisions related to reproductive health, 43 of which restricted access to abortion as many as were passed in all of 2012.
Media Resources: Guttmacher Institute 7/8/2013, 7/1/2013; Journal Sentinel 7/5/2013; Feminist Newswire 6/13/2013; Senate Bill 206