Abortion Provider Hospital-Access Law Halted in Wisconsin

A Wisconsin law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles (48 kilometers) of their clinic was put on hold by a U.S. judge at least until a trial in November.

U.S. District Judge William M. Conley in Madison, who temporarily blocked the law last month, extended the freeze today, saying he doubts the state can win the case brought by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Defendants are not likely to succeed in demonstrating that the admitting privileges requirement is reasonably related to maternal health,” Conley said in his ruling, adding that the plaintiffs can probably show the law goes too far in restricting a woman’s right to an abortion.

Conley’s ruling is the second by a judge this week to delay enforcement of a hospital affiliation measure, legislation being pushed by abortion opponents across the country. North Dakota state court Judge Wickham Corwin in Fargo blocked a similar law on July 31, ruling that the state hadn’t shown a compelling need for it.

The North Dakota law, set to take effect yesterday, would have forced that state’s only abortion clinic to close. The Wisconsin law would have led to the closure of clinics in Milwaukee and Appleton and caused Planned Parenthood to cut staff and services at another clinic in Milwaukee, the state’s biggest city, according to the complaint.

Dana Brueck, a spokeswoman for Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, said in a statement that the office is reviewing the ruling.

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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