MINNEAPOLIS -- The imminent move to make Wisconsin the ninth state to require women to undergo an ultrasound before getting an abortion will result in more women seeking abortion services in Minnesota, according to reproductive rights advocates.
On Wednesday, Wisconsin Republicans passed the bill on a 17 to 15 vote, with all Republicans voting for it and all Democrats voting against it. The Wisconsin Assembly is expected to pass the bill on Thursday. Gov. Scott Walker has said he will sign it into law soon after.
"I think what's happening in Wisconsin is part of a larger trend. What we're seeing nationwide," said Linnea House, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota.
House predicts the measure will likely cause more women to cross the border to receive abortion care. In 2011, 729 Wisconsin women received abortions in Minnesota.
"I expect that we'll see those numbers increase as it gets harder and harder for people to access the care that they need," she said.
Meantime, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin say the new law could close one of the four abortion clinics in the state. Advocates say the Appleton clinic would have a hard time meeting the "admitting requirements" portion of the bill that requires physicians to have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion center.
The advocates also suggest the measure is an "unfunded mandate" with no clear outline of who will cover the cost of the mandatory ultrasounds.
"The bill is forcing women to undergo an ultrasound and then not answering the question of who pays for the ultrasound," said Nicole Safar with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin.
But pro-life advocates maintain free clinics will be able to provide free ultrasounds throughout the state. Barbara Lyons with Wisconsin Right to Life said women will be given information about where they can go to obtain the free services.
"We think it's important for women to meet their unborn baby on ultrasound," Lyons said.
The Minnesota pro-life counterparts agreed. They welcomed the new law, saying it simply provides more information for women making a profound decision.
"It really is another step for women to feel empowered to make the most factual and informed decision, said Jennifer Kistler with Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.
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