Wisconsin abortion law requires ultrasound

Governor Scott Walker signed the bill during the long holiday weekend.
Associated Press/File
Governor Scott Walker signed the bill during the long holiday weekend.

MADISON, Wis. — Governor Scott Walker quietly signed a contentious Republican bill Friday that would require women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound and ban doctors who lack admitting privileges at nearby hospitals from performing the procedures.

Opponents contend that legislators shouldn’t force women to undergo any medical procedure and the bill will force at least two abortion clinics where providers lack admitting privileges to shut their doors.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed the bill in mid-June. Walker, a Republican, could have chosen to sign it at any time since then but decided to do it on Friday in the middle of the long Fourth of July holiday weekend. The measure’s opponents accused him of trying to bury news of the signing.


‘‘That’s his prerogative, he’s the governor,’’ said Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin attorney Lester Pines. ‘‘But he’s not going to win a profile in courage award.’’

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Walker did not sign the bill in public; he issued a press release in the afternoon with the bill in a list of 17 other measures he signed earlier in the day. ‘‘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 blurb noting the signing said.

Pines said he plans to file a federal lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union arguing that the law is unconstitutional. The suit will include a request for a restraining order blocking the law.

Under the bill, any woman seeking an abortion would have to get an ultrasound. The technician would have to point out the fetus’s visible organs and external features to the woman. Abortion providers would have to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles to perform the procedures.

Republican supporters argue the ultrasound requirement is designed to help the woman bond with the fetus and persuade her to save it. The admitting privileges mandate is meant to ensure that an abortion provider can follow up with a patient at the hospital if an emergency arises, they say.

Associated Press