Wisconsin Judge Strikes Down Pro-Life Law That Closed Abortion Clinics in Other States

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 23, 2015   |   1:13PM   |   Washington, DC

A judge has struck down a pro-life law in Wisconsin that, when approved in other states, closed abortion clinics that were unable to meet the requirements of the law to protect women’s health from dangerous abortions.

In 2013, Governor Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 206 (Sonya’s Law) into law.  This important new law requires that women seeking abortions in Wisconsin be given the opportunity to see their unborn children through ultrasound.

The bill also required abortion clinics to follow the same health and safety standards as legitimate medical clinics, whereby their doctors have admitting privileges at a local hospital. This ensures women injured by botched abortions receive the fastest medical care and attention.

The previous legislative director for Wisconsin Right to Life talked about the legal challenge the abortion industry filed at the time.

“The announcement of an impending lawsuit is no surprise to anyone,” said Susan Armacost, Legislative Director of Wisconsin Right to Life. “It appears that the court challenge will focus on the hospital admitting privileges requirement.  Apparently, Wisconsin’s abortion clinics don’t believe their abortionists need to have hospital privileges at a hospital located within 30 miles of their clinic….or anywhere at all. Currently, when a woman experiences hemorrhaging or other life-threatening complications after an abortion in Wisconsin, the clinic puts her in an ambulance and sends her to a hospital ALONE where she is left to her own devices to explain her medical issues to the emergency room staff. The abortionist who performed the abortion is nowhere to be seen.  This deplorable situation must change.”

Now, a judge has struck down the law:

A federal judge on Friday struck down a Wisconsin law requiring doctors performing abortions to get hospital admitting privileges, ruling that any benefits to women’s health from the requirement are “substantially outweighed” by restricting women’s access to abortion.

U.S. District Judge William Conley, who earlier had put the law on hold, ruled that the 2013 law is unconstitutional. He issued a permanent injunction blocking its enforcement.



Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services had sued the state, arguing the requirement will force AMS’s Milwaukee clinic to close because its doctors can’t get admitting privileges.

The groups argued that would amount to restricting access to abortions in Wisconsin. State attorneys contended the mandate would ensure continuity of care for women hospitalized with abortion complications.

In his ruling, Conley wrote that the “marginal benefit to women’s health” by requiring hospital admitting privileges “is substantially outweighed by the burden this requirement will have on women’s health outcomes due to restricted access to abortions in Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin Right to Life responded to the decision:


“Judge William Conley’s decision Friday, overturning Wisconsin’s law requiring admitting privileges for abortionists at local hospitals, is detrimental to providing continuity of care for women who suffer complications from an abortion,” shared Heather Weininger, Executive Director of Wisconsin Right to Life. “Wisconsin Right to Life is disappointed that women will not receive the care they need under these frightening circumstances.”

Enacted in June of 2013, Act 37 requires that abortionists have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. In July of 2013, the admitting privileges provision was challenged in Federal Court by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, Affiliated Medical Services, and the ACLU of Wisconsin. During the past year, abortionists at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin were able to obtain admitting privileges in Appleton, Madison, and Milwaukee. Other abortionists are still attempting to acquire them – they have been denied partly because of lack of peer review of their abortion practice.

“The fact that some abortionists are not reviewed adequately is exactly why the legislature correctly voted to require admitting privileges at a hospital to provide the highest quality care for women,” continued Weininger.

“It is our hope that the Attorney General will appeal Judge Conley’s ruling,” continued Weininger. “We must do all we can to ensure safety and continuity of care for Wisconsin women.”