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Abortion Providers Sue As Wisconsin Governor Signs Bill

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that would require women seeking an abortion to get an ultrasound. The bill also puts restrictions on doctors who perform abortions, reports Marti Mikkelson of member station WUWM in Milwaukee.

Mikkelson tells our Newscast Desk that the bill, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in June, would "prohibit doctors from performing abortions unless they have admitting privileges at a local hospital." Reuters reports clinics would have to be within 30 miles of a hospital.

Mikkelson says the two abortion providers in the state have sued to prevent the law from taking effect. In a statement Friday, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin announced its intentions.

"This pending new law threatens the availability of abortion at Wisconsin's last four remaining facilities located in Appleton, Milwaukee and Madison," its president, Teri Huyck, said.

Also joining the legal battle is Affiliated Medical Services of Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The paper adds:

"The clinics are asking 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 services."

Susan Armacost, legislative director for Wisconsin Right to Life, tells the Journal Sentinel, "We are confident this bill will be held to be constitutional."

Wisconsin is now the eighth state to have a hospital admission requirement. As NPR's Kathy Lohr noted in January on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, states have become "key battlegrounds" in the contentious abortion debate. (Most recently demonstrated in a dramatic filibuster in the Texas Legislature — the bill in question also had a hospital-distance requirement.)

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dana Farrington is a digital editor coordinating online coverage on the Washington Desk — from daily stories to visual feature projects to the weekly newsletter. She has been with the NPR Politics team since President Trump's inauguration. Before that, she was among NPR's first engagement editors, managing the homepage for NPR.org and the main social accounts. Dana has also worked as a weekend web producer and editor, and has written on a wide range of topics for NPR, including tech and women's health.