Wisconsin GOP Governor Leads '11th Hour Attack' on Women's Choice
Scott Walker uses July 4th weekend to ram through passage of anti-choice law as Planned Parenthood and ACLU file suit
In yet another GOP-led "campaign to outlaw abortion," Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker launched an eleventh hour attack on reproductive rights on Friday when he signed an anti-choice bill into law with two restrictions designed to severely limit women's right to abortions within the state.
The law, which goes into effect Monday, requires that women undergo an ultrasound before terminating a pregnancy and bans doctors without admitting privileges at nearby hospitals from performing the procedure.
The ACLU of Wisconsin and Planned Parenthood, outraged by the proposal, filed a lawsuit on Friday challenging the law.
"This law will drastically limit a woman's ability to obtain a safe and legal abortion in Wisconsin by imposing burdensome and medically unnecessary requirements on doctors that provide this essential care," said Larry Dupuis, legal director for ACLU of Wisconsin, in a joint press release. "This law was rammed through the legislature in a matter of days and now, with a stroke of his pen, the governor has put the very health and wellbeing of Wisconsin women and families at immediate risk."
Deputy Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project Talcott Camp said that this "eleventh hour attack" has forced Wisconsin to join "the ranks of Mississippi, Alabama, and others, in a national campaign to outlaw abortion."
"Enough is enough," he continued. "Politicians can no longer be permitted to shut down clinics that provide safe abortions and prevent a woman from making the best decision for her and her family."
As the Huffington Post reports, the ultrasound requirement compels doctors not only to perform the test but also to meet with patients to discuss the findings, with an emphasis on pointing out the fetus' organs and external features. Supporters make no attempt to mask their intentions, saying that they hope this "will help the woman bond with the fetus and convince her to save it."
Donna Crane, a policy analysts for NARAL Pro-Choice America, added that this law has nothing to do with health. Crane explained, "this is politicians saying we want you to [have an ultrasound] because we don't like the choice you're making and we're going to make it as hard as possible and as expensive as possible [to have an abortion], only to satisfy our politics."
The second part of the bill—necessitating admitting privileges—is just as extreme and will decrease the amount of doctors able to perform terminations with unconventional restrictions.
According to the ACLU, physicians are usually unable to gain admitting rights to hospitals due to a number of factors including facilities' opposition to termination, the limitation that a doctor must be within 30-miles of a hospital, or the requirement that doctors admit a minimum number of patients to the hospital. The ACLU explains that "because abortion is extremely safe and rarely results in hospitalization, it is impossible for physicians who provide abortions to meet the minimum requirement." Gov. Walker's hastiness in passing the bill has also nearly eliminated the time doctors could apply for privileges before the state forces them to stop.
The bill forces two health centers within the state to close and will require a third Planned Parenthood clinic to cut staff and limit services.
Lucia Brown is an editorial intern at Common Dreams.