Judge strikes down Wisconsin law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at local hospital

By Dave Andrusko

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

In U .S. District Judge William Conley’s decision last Friday to overturn Wisconsin’s law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, there were two non-surprises.

First, that Conley ruled the way he did. Conley replaced a temporary injunction (first issued last year) with a permanent injunction.

“The only reasonable conclusion is that the legislation was motivated by an improper purpose, namely to restrict the availability of abortion services in Wisconsin,” Conley wrote in his 93-page decision.

Second, that the state is preparing an appeal. On Friday a spokeswoman for Gov. Scott Walker said the state will appeal Conley’s decision because Gov. Walker believes the hospital-admitting requirement is constitutional. “Our office will work with the attorney general to appeal this ruling, and we believe the law will ultimately be upheld,” said Walker aide Laurel Patrick.

On Saturday. Anne E. Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice, was quoting saying Attorney General Brad Schimel would soon appeal.

“We are reviewing the decision and are working with the governor and legislative leaders to prepare an appeal,” she told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Heather Weininger, Executive Director of Wisconsin Right to Life, said Judge Conley’s decision “is detrimental to providing continuity of care for women who suffer complications from an abortion.” Weininger added, “Wisconsin Right to Life is disappointed that women will not receive the care they need under these frightening circumstances.”

Act 37 became law in June 2013. The admitting privileges provision was challenged in federal court by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, Affiliated Medical Services, and the ACLU of Wisconsin the following month.

According to Wisconsin Right to Life, during the past year, abortionists at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin were able to obtain admitting privileges in Appleton, Madison, and Milwaukee. Other abortionists are still attempting to acquire them; they have been denied partly because of lack of peer review of their abortion practice.

“The fact that some abortionists are not reviewed adequately is exactly why the legislature correctly voted to require admitting privileges at a hospital to provide the highest quality care for women,” continued Weininger.

The Journal-Sentinel, no friend of Gov. Walker, noted in its story that Conley was appointed by President Obama in 2010. Conley “also took a shot at recent legislative actions by the Republican-controlled Legislature,” said reporter Mary Spicuzza. “’Not unlike some other controversial legislation in Wisconsin of late, the act was passed precipitously,’ he wrote.”

Spicuzza added

The bill also included other provisions that Conley did not strike down, including requiring abortion-providing clinics to display an ultrasound of the fetus, which has sparked much debate in the years since its original suggestion. This portion of the law was not included in Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit.