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Temporary restraining order issued against Wisconsin anti-abortion law

UPDATED: A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order blocking Wisconsin's law placing new restrictions on abortions.

The U.S. District Court judge also has scheduled arguments in a lawsuit against the anti-abortion law for July 17.

Judge William M. Conley, citing the state’s failure to “demonstrate any benefit to maternal health of imposing this restriction,” said “there is no meaningful counterweight recognized by the United States Supreme Court to justify the act's immediate enforcement."

“This ruling is a step in the right direction for the women of Wisconsin who can now continue to make their own personal, private health care decisions," said Teri Huyck, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.

The lawsuit, brought by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin along with their national organizations, was filed on July 5, the same day that Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed the bill into law.

The measure requires women seeking abortions to first undergo an ultrasound.

The measure also bans doctors who lack admitting privileges at nearby hospitals from performing abortions.

A statement from the governor's office announcing the signing of bill said it "relates to requirements to perform abortions, requiring an ultrasound before informed consent for an abortion, and providing a penalty. 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. Women have a choice as to the ultrasound they receive. Pregnancies that are the result of a sexual assault or incest are excluded from this legislation. Senate Bill 206 passed the Senate on a vote of 17 – 15 and the Assembly on a vote of 56 – 39. Senate Bill 206 is Act 37."

But the ACLU and Planned Parenthood say the new law has serious implications for women and their access access to safe medical care.

A news release from the ACLU said the measure will "severely restrict women’s access to safe and legal abortion in a state where access is already heavily restricted. Two of only four health centers providing safe and legal abortion today could be forced to close."

The law, said ACLU of Wisconsin legal director Larry Dupuis, 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."

He continued, "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 well-being of Wisconsin women and families at immediate risk."

"Politicians in Wisconsin and across the country need to get the message that it is unlawful to arbitrarily prevent a woman from making the best decision for her family," said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "We'll continue to fight this law and others like it around the country to stop this insidious campaign to outlaw safe and legal abortions."

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