By Dave Andrusko
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has filed a motion asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Act 37 (also known as Sonya’s Law).
The bill passed with healthy margins in both houses last year and in July Gov. Scott Walker signed the measure into law. Part of the law is a requirement that an abortionist have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic.
The legislative and legal history is already complicated, and promises to become even more so. But as Wisconsin Right to Life Legislative Director, Heather Weininger stated, “We are encouraged to see Attorney General Van Hollen make the motion to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the current injunction placed on the admitting privileges in Act 37. The safety of every woman is at stake. Each day physicians who are performing abortions and do not have admitting privileges to a nearby hospital are putting women in danger.”
The same day the bill was signed into law, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and Affiliated Medical Services challenged that provision in federal court. (The lawsuit did not affect that portion of Sonya’s Law requiring that women seeking abortions in Wisconsin be given the opportunity to see their unborn children through ultrasound. That part of the law had already gone in to effect.)
The plaintiffs argued the requirement “would unconstitutionally restrict the availability of abortions in the state, violates the U.S. Constitution’s due-process guarantee and unconstitutionally treats doctors who perform abortions differently from those who perform other procedures,” the Associated Press reported.
After U.S. District Judge Michael Conley issued his July 2013 preliminary injunction blocking the law from taking effect, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the injunction. As we reported in December the three-judge panel refused.
At the time, Weininger said the decision “does not benefit women who suffer abortion complications.” She added, “It is disturbing that a woman is placed in an ambulance and sent to an emergency room where medical personal do not know her medical history or what happened to her at the abortion clinic.”
In his latest move, Van Hollen asked the United States Supreme Court to reinstate the admitting privileges requirement.
The “DOJ filed a petition with the Supreme Court asking it take to the case and rule that abortion providers don’t have standing to bring claims on behalf of their patients,” the Associated Press reported. “The agency also argues that three other federal appellate courts have upheld admitting privileges as rationally related to state interest in maternal health.”