Scott Walker signs bill to tighten abortion restrictions in Wisconsin

FILE - In this June 28, 2013 file photo, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks in his Capitol office in Madison, Wis. On Friday, July 5, 2013, Walker 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. Opponents have vowed to sue to stop the law. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer, File)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker shown June 28 in his Capitol office in Madison, Wis.  (Scott Bauer/AP)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed a bill Friday that requires women seeking abortions to obtain an ultrasound and mandates that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, prompting opponents to quickly take legal action in hopes of blocking it.

"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," Walker's office said in a statement announcing the signing of the bill, along with 17 other pieces of legislation.

The ultrasound requirement allows women to choose between transvaginal ultrasounds and less-invasive abdominal ultrasounds. It also bars physicians from performing abortions if they do not have admitting privileges at a hospital within a 30-mile radius.

Abortion-rights supporters swiftly criticized the move. The state's two abortion providers, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and Affiliated Medical Services, filed a lawsuit to fight the measure in federal court.

"Whether during special legislative sessions, at midnight votes, or in courthouses across the country, Planned Parenthood is fighting deeply unpopular and dangerous attacks on women’s health every step of the way,” Planned Parenthood Federation of American President Cecile Richards said in a statement. "The health and safety of American women are at stake — and that is why this unconstitutional law cannot be allowed to stand."

Abortion has moved to the forefront of the political debate in several states lately. Texas lawmakers are expected to soon pass a law tightening abortion restrictions, while Ohio's Republican governor signed new restrictions into law this week. Meanwhile, North Carolina has also moved toward restricting abortion laws.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan · July 5, 2013