Court Strikes Down Wisconsin Pro-Life Law Requiring Admitting Privileges for Abortionists

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Nov 24, 2015   |   12:23PM   |   Madison, WI

A U.S. appeals court ruled Monday that a Wisconsin law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital is unconstitutional. Admitting privileges are important because they would help protect the health of a woman who is victimized by a botched abortion; and they have been successful in other states in closing abortion clinics that can’t protect women’s health.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the law “curtails the constitutional right to abortion” by restricting abortion access, Reuters reported. Wisconsin enacted the law in June of 2013, to require that abortionists have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic.

“The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision yesterday is detrimental to providing continuity of care for women who suffer complications from an abortion,” said Heather Weininger, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life, in an email to LifeNews. “Wisconsin Right to Life is disappointed that women will continue to not receive the care they need under these frightening circumstances.”

In July 2013, the admitting privileges provision was challenged in Federal Court by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, Affiliated Medical Services and the ACLU of Wisconsin. Abortionists at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin were able to obtain admitting privileges in Appleton, Madison and Milwaukee, but other abortionists are still attempting to acquire them. They were denied partly because of lack of peer review of their abortion practice.

In March, a federal judge blocked the Wisconsin law, saying that it created a burden on “women’s health” by restricting access to abortion and that outweighed any “health benefits” of the law, according to Reuters.

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In the new 7th Circuit majority ruling, Judge Richard Posner claimed the law’s benefits to women’s health were “nonexistent,” according to the Associated Press. Posner claimed the law would increase the waiting times for abortions and push some women into second-trimester abortions, the AP reported.

Dissenting 7th Circuit Judge David Manion said the law does protect women’s health and is constitutional.

“The solution to the plaintiffs’ problems is that they find more qualified doctors, not that the state relax — or that we strike down as unconstitutional — precautions taken by the state to protect the health and safety of pregnant women who have chosen to end their pregnancies,” Manion wrote.

The decision came after the U.S. Supreme Court decided to take up a similar Texas law earlier this November. The high court will hear a lawsuit brought by abortion businesses against a pro-life Texas law responsible for closing abortion clinics that could not guarantee they could protect the health of Texas women. The law has been credited with saving the lives of more than 10,000 unborn children.

The Texas legislation requires abortion facilities to meet the same safety standards of other ambulatory surgical centers in the state, ensures that abortionists have admitting privileges at a local hospital, and bans painful late abortions on fully formed babies.

“We now eagerly look to the Supreme Court, which already has decided to review the challenge to Texas’ admitting privileges law, not only for the health and safety of women in Wisconsin, but for women all around the country,” Weininger said.