Wisconsin Abortion Restrictions Remain Blocked by Judge
A federal judge in Wisconsin extended a block on a state law requiring abortion providers to have admission privileges at hospitals near their clinics.
U.S. District Judge William M. Conley in Madison, the state’s capital, granted the request of a state Planned Parenthood affiliate, which alleged that the new requirement wasn’t medically necessary and would lead to the shutdown of half of the state’s abortion providers. He is expected to decide whether to impose a more permanent block within 14 days.
“The fact that a few doctors are willing to say it’s a good idea is not enough,” Conley said of the hospital privilege requirement during a hearing today. He discussed the possibility of appointing a medical expert to look into whether the law is beneficial to women’s health.
The new measure, signed into law July 5, requires abortion providers to have admission privileges at hospitals within 30 miles (48 kilometers) of their clinics. Opponents say that it can be difficult for doctors who perform abortions to obtain those privileges because too few of their patients have complications that require hospitalization and because some hospitals have religions objections to abortions.
Doctors had little time to comply with the law, set to go into effect July 8 and put on hold by Conley this month. The American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Inc. the day the bill was signed.
The law would force clinics in Milwaukee and Appleton to close and cause Planned Parenthood to cut staff and services at another clinic in Milwaukee, according to the complaint. Milwaukee is the state’s most populous city.
Daniel Lennington, assistant attorney general for Wisconsin, argued in court today that even if women have to travel an additional 100 miles to obtain an abortion, that wouldn’t be an undue burden. They also could go out of state for the procedure, he said.
“It’s not as if there is a wall around Wisconsin,” Lennington said in response to questions from Conley. “Roughly 10 percent of Wisconsin women already go to Minneapolis.”
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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