MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has signed a contentious Republican bill that would require women seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound of the fetus before the procedure and prohibit doctors from performing abortions unless they have admitting privileges at a local hospital.
The Republican-controlled Legislature passed the bill last month. It would require abortion providers to point out a fetus’ features on the ultrasound and have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles to perform the procedure.
Planned Parenthood contends the language is designed to shut down its Appleton clinic. None of the providers there have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles.
Lester Pines, a senior partner at Cullen Weston Pines & Bach LLP who is representing Planned Parenthood in the lawsuit, said the admitting-privilege provision of the abortion bill is unconstitutional on two grounds.
For one, he said, it would let hospitals use their ability to withhold admitting privileges as a way to prevent doctors from performing abortions, a procedure that the U.S. Constitution gives women a right to undergo. Doctors who are denied admitting privileges, he added, will have no means of appealing that decision.
Second, he said, passing a law that will have the practical result of closing the Appleton clinic will curtail the constitutional right to an abortion without having the mitigating effect of doing more to protect the health and safety of women. He said abortions are one of the safest procedures now performed. He also said if a patient who underwent one were in need of medical treatment, it would be emergency responders who most likely would decide where the patient should be taken, not doctors.
“This will severely contract the availability that is guaranteed by the Constitution,” he said. “That is an undue burden on a woman’s right to abortion.”
Planned Parenthood has vowed to sue to block the law.
Wisconsin Law Journal staff writer Dan Shaw also contributed to this report.