Daily Dispatches
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gestures as he speaks at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., in March.
Associated Press/Photo by Carolyn Kaster
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gestures as he speaks at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., in March.

Judge halts pro-life legislation in Wisconsin

Abortion

A federal judge on Monday delayed a pro-life bill in Wisconsin because of a stipulation requiring abortionists to have hospital admission privileges within 30 miles of their facilities. The bill, signed by Gov. Scott Walker, was intended to take effect Monday, but the segment under consideration will now remain pending until a second hearing on July 17. 

U.S. District Judge William Conley granted the order following a hearing in a lawsuit filed Friday by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, which claims the requirement violates the Constitution’s due process guarantee and unconstitutionally restricts the availability of abortions in the state. The bill’s supporters say the hospital admission requirement is necessary for the safety of women who need to be rushed to a hospital in emergency situations.

If the law goes into effect, two abortion businesses in Appleton and Milwaukee would close and abortions would be unavailable in Wisconsin north of Madison. Abortions after the 19th week of pregnancy would be unavailable all over the state. 

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The bill also requires women to obtain an ultrasound before getting an abortion, but Planned Parenthood is not challenging that provision.

“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,” said Susan Armacost, director of Wisconsin Right to Life, in a statement. “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.”

Armacost said the new law is on sound constitutional footing: Nine other states have passed laws requiring abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges. Planned Parenthood challenged Missouri’s admitting privilege law in 2005 but it was upheld by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Still, Alabama and Mississippi are engaged in similar battles: Federal judges in both states have issued orders stopping the implementation of pro-life laws after lawsuits claiming the hospital-privilege requirements are a burden to women seeking an abortion, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

 The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Alissa Robertson
Alissa Robertson

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