Act 37, a new Wisconsin abortion law, was issued a temporary roadblock yesterday by U.S. District Judge William Conley. The bill was, which was introduced and passed within a 9-day span in early June, was secretly signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker last Friday. The law bans abortions by doctors who do not have admitting privileges to hospitals within 30 miles of their current location of practice.
Conley’s block to the legislation was in response to a joint lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and Affiliated Medical Services. Attorneys speaking on behalf of the clinics alleged that the bill’s requirements restrict the availability of abortion clinics within the state.
The lawsuit also claimed that several women with abortions scheduled throughout this week would have to cancel, as the law took effect yesterday. Both the Planned Parenthood clinic in Appleton and Affiliated Medical Services in Milwaukee employ doctors who do not have admitting privileges within the 30-mile distance required by the law.
The new law was purportedly aimed at improving patient care with the admittance privilege requirement by allowing more options for the patient should complications arise after an abortion. Opponents argue, however, that the true agenda for the bill is not improving patient care, but limiting the availability of abortions in the state.
Both clinics are set to close under the new bill, making abortions only available in select locations within the state. The law also requires that a woman obtain an ultrasound before moving forward with an abortion. Nevertheless, the ultrasound requirement seems to be yet another obstacle being put in the way in hopes of swaying women seeking abortions to change their minds. Still, Conley’s order does not block the ultrasound-before-abortion requirement.
According to Conley, the state is unlikely to meet its burden of proof needed to justify that requiring admission privileges helps improves patient care. “The current system already handles efficiently the very low percentage of women seeking abortions with serious complications,” said the judge during the hearing of the lawsuit, reported by The Huffington Post.
“There is a troubling lack of justification for the hospital-admitting privileges requirement,” Conley stated. “Moreover, the record to date strongly supports a finding that no medical purpose is served by this requirement.”.
The Supreme Court has previously ruled that states’ restrictions on abortion rights must be solely aimed towards protecting the mother’s health. With an introduction and passing within 9 days, the Wisconsin abortion lacks political and medical support to prove that restricting the availability of abortions is in the best interest of the health of expectant mothers.
Conley’s order is pending until a further hearing, set for July 17.
Krysta Loera is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.