Judge Blocks Arbitrary Law That Would Shut Down Abortion Clinics in Wisconsin
File this one under rare good news on the women's reproductive rights front. On Monday, U.S. District Judge William Conley issued a temporary restraining order to block a provision of the anti-abortion bill Governor Walker (R) signed into law in Wisconsin last Friday.
The provision in question requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, so that patients who suffer complications can receive further treatment nearby. The geographical proximity provision might sound good, but the fact is that complications from abortions are extremely rare. Plus, hospitals have their own specialists for these cases.
This provision establishes an arbitrary obstacle that aims to shut down clinics for the sake of shutting down clinics. It is yet another example of male Republican politicians like Walker justifying anti-women's rights legislature by claiming to be primarily concerned with women's health.
The law would have forced a Planned Parenthood in Appleton and the Affiliated Medical Services clinic in Milwaukee to close, which would force dozens of women with abortions scheduled for this week to cancel their appointments. Abortions also would no longer be available north of Madison.
Thankfully, Judge Conley wrote that the requirement unconstitutionally restricts abortion access and unconstitutionally treats abortion providers differently from other doctors. Unfortunately, the part of the law that requires women seeking abortion to first undergo an ultrasound remains unchallenged.
A fuller hearing to evaluate the constitutionality of the bill is scheduled for July 17. Stay tuned.