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Wisconsin governor signs abortion restrictions into law

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker [official website] on Friday signed a bill [text] requiring women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound and banning doctors without admitting privileges at local hospitals from performing the procedures. The law goes into effect Saturday. Within hours of the signing, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy websites] filed a federal lawsuit [complaint, PDF] alleging that the bill is unconstitutional and asking for a temporary restraining order blocking the measure. Supporters of the bill contend that ultrasounds will help a woman make an informed choice. Opponents argue that the legislature should not force women to undergo any medical procedure. Moreover, two abortion clinics would have to close, as providers lack admitting privileges to a hospital within a 30 miles. Walker did not sign the bill in public, but issued a statement [text] Friday afternoon stating the bill was now law. "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 statement said.

A number of states have recently passed laws relating to reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder]. Last week Ohio Governor John Kasich [official website] also signed abortion restrictions into law [JURIST report] requiring women to first undergo ultrasounds. In April North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple [official website] signed a measure banning abortions after 20 weeks gestation [JURIST report] based on the controversial premise that a fetus can feel pain at that point. Earlier that month lawmakers in Alabama passed [JURIST report] the Women's Health and Safety Act [text, PDF] which imposes tough restrictions on abortion clinics and practitioners within the state. In March the Arkansas legislature voted to override [JURIST report] Governor Mike Beebe's recent veto of the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act [Act 301, PDF], which bans abortions "of an unborn human individual whose heartbeat has been detected ... and is twelve (12) weeks or greater gestation." That law has since been blocked by a federal judge [JURIST report].

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