MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has suspended non-surgical abortions in response to a new state law that makes it harder for women to have the procedure, a move that followed anti-abortion measures in several Republican-controlled states.
The law, which took effect on Friday, requires women visit a doctor at least three times before having a drug-induced abortion, forces physicians to determine whether women are being coerced into having an abortion and prohibits women and doctors from using web cams during the procedure.
The Coercive and Web Cam Abortion Prevention Act, which was signed by Republican Governor Scott Walker earlier this month, imposes criminal penalties, including a possible prison sentence, for physicians who violate the law.
Teri Huyck, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, said the law was “ambiguous and difficult to interpret,” interfered with the doctor-patient relationship and posed significant risks to doctors.
“The added risks of felony penalties for physicians who provide medication abortion are unnecessary and intended to threaten a physician’s ability to provide women with medication abortion,” Huyck said in a statement from the family planning and reproductive health organization on Friday.
About a quarter of abortions in Wisconsin are induced using medication, which can be prescribed by a doctor during the first nine weeks of pregnancy. Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, however, will continue to provide surgical abortions.
Wisconsin Right To Life, an anti-abortion group, said it supported Planned Parenthood’s decision, adding that it would likely reduce the number of abortions.
“This common-sense law protects women at a time when it is most needed and provides help if she is a potential or real victim of domestic abuse,” said Barbara Lyons, Wisconsin Right to Life’s executive director.
The Wisconsin Medical Society, the largest association of doctors in the state, had called on Walker to veto the bill, saying it “directly infringes on the special and private relationship between the patient and physician.”
The Wisconsin law is the latest in a number of anti-abortion measures pressed by conservative lawmakers in the nation.
In Oklahoma, a Republican-led effort to enact a “personhood” law that would have granted embryos full rights as people from the moment of conception failed on Thursday in the state legislature.
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a law on Monday that may force the state’s only abortion clinic out of business, and earlier this month Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a controversial measure banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Editing by David Bailey and Paul Simao