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Wisconsin governor signs abortion bill, federal judge blocks law

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July 14, 2013

By Jennifer Springer

Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed a bill on July 5, 2013 that would tighten restrictions for those seeking an abortion in the state.[1] The new law requires women seeking abortions to obtain an ultrasound and mandates that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, prompting opponents to quickly take legal action in hopes of blocking it.[1]

“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,” Walker’s office said in a statement announcing the signing of the bill.[1]

The new law would cut the number of clinics offering abortions in Wisconsin from four to two, and one of the remaining clinics would have to dramatically cut the number of abortions it provides, according to the operators of the clinics.[2]

The state’s two abortion providers, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and Affiliated Medical Services, filed a lawsuit to fight the measure in federal court.[1] They brought it against Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, Safety and Professional Services Secretary Dave Ross and the members of the state Medical Examining Board — all of whom have authority to enforce the law or issue sanctions.[2]

The clinics asked the court to immediately block the law, contending it violates the constitution's due process guarantee, puts an undue burden on a woman's right to choose abortion and unconstitutionally treats doctors who perform abortions differently than doctors who perform other procedures.[2]

A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order on July 8, 2013 to block enforcement of the law and would remain in place pending a hearing later in July.[3] In his ruling, U.S. District Judge William Conley said "there is a troubling lack of justification for the hospital admitting privileges requirement." He said the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states must prove that restrictions on abortion rights must be reasonably aimed at preserving the mother's health. "Moreover, the record to date strongly supports a finding that no medical purpose is served by this requirement," he said.[3][4]

A hearing on the new law is scheduled for July 17, 2013.[3][4]

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