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Planned Parenthood Wins Delay of Wisconsin Abortion Law

Wisconsin’s law requiring abortion providers to have hospital admission privileges within 30 miles of their clinic was put on hold by a federal judge at the request of the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliate.

U.S. District Judge William M. Conley in Madison, the state’s capital, yesterday issued a temporary order delaying enforcement of the provision signed into by Governor Scott Walker on July 5.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Inc. that day, asking the court to block the measure they said was unconstitutional. The effective date of the law was yesterday.

“There is a troubling lack of justification for the hospital admitting privileges requirement,” Conley said in an 19-page ruling, adding that U.S. Supreme Court precedent places the burden upon states to show such laws are “reasonably directed to the preservation of maternal health.”

Wisconsin is one of several states where legal battles are taking place over newly introduced hospital-privilege requirements for abortion providers.

Federal judges in Alabama and Mississippi have issued orders stopping similar laws from being implemented after finding that they might result in substantial burdens for women seeking to terminate pregnancies.

Clinics Affected

Wisconsin’s law would force clinics in Milwaukee and Appleton to close and cause Planned Parenthood to cut staff and services at another clinic in Milwaukee, the state’s most-populous city according to the complaint.

Conley’s order preserves those clinics’ ability to perform the procedure. A fourth clinic operates in Madison. He scheduled a preliminary injunction hearing for July 17.

Dana Brueck, a spokeswoman for Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, declined to comment on the court’s decision.

“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.”

The case is Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Inc. v. Van Hollen, 3:13-cv-00465, U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin (Madison).

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