Abortion clinics across Wisconsin shut Thursday after one of the nation's most sweeping "partial-birth" abortion bans took effect.
Wisconsin doctors and virtually every clinic in the state stopped performing abortions, citing fear that because of vague language in the state's new law, they could be prosecuted and imprisoned for life even for providing other types of abortions.
The late-term procedure in which the fetus is partially delivered before it is aborted has become the new battleground in the abortion-rights debate, with two dozen states across the country passing laws banning the procedure. A similar law has been passed twice by Congress and vetoed both times by President Clinton.
Wisconsin is the first state in which abortion-rights groups have not succeeded in having the statutes blocked.
Opponents of the law said the law's language could apply to a broad range of abortions. But the measure's supporters disagreed, calling the decision by doctors not to perform abortions a political tactic.