CHICAGO — Two federal judges appointed by Ronald Reagan and one appointed by Barack Obama upheld a temporary injunction against a Wisconsin abortion law on Friday, opining that its quick implementation would not serve to benefit women’s health.
As previously reported, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker approved Senate Bill 206 (SB206) in July, which calls for increased health standards in abortion facilities, as well as mandatory ultrasound viewings for all women seeking abortions. Pro-life advocates praised the legislation, but Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) immediately filed a lawsuit against the state, saying the bill is an “attack on women’s health.”
“Whether during special legislative sessions, at midnight votes, or in courthouses across the country, Planned Parenthood is fighting deeply unpopular and dangerous attacks on women’s health every step of the way,” wrote Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards following the passage of the bill. “The health and safety of American women are at stake—and that is why this unconstitutional law cannot be allowed to stand.”
As a result of the pressure from Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, federal Judge William Conley, appointed by Barack Obama, decided to temporarily block a portion of SB206.
In his decision, Conley ordered the requirement that abortion facilities have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals to be suspended for 10 days, until a more thorough hearing can be held. He wrote that the law’s admitting privileges measure would “almost certainly” cause “irreparable harm to those women who will be foreclosed from having an abortion in the next week either because of the undue burden of travel or the late stage of pregnancy, as well as facing increasing health risks caused by delay.”
“There is a troubling lack of justification for the hospital admitting privileges requirement,” Conley stated in the 19-page ruling. “[Lawmakers have] failed … to demonstrate any benefit to maternal health of imposing this restriction,” and so “there is no meaningful counterweight recognized by the United States Supreme Court to justify the Act’s immediate enforcement.”
He later issued a second injunction, which was appealed by the state to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
But on Friday, Justices Richard Posner and Daniel Manion, appointed by Ronald Reagan, and Justice David Hamilton, appointed by Barack Obama unanimously upheld the injunction, stating that the law’s quick implementation did not give abortionists ample time to comply.
“The state can without harm to its legitimate interests wait a few months more to implement its new law, should it prevail in this litigation,” Posner wrote on behalf of the panel.
But he also seemed to question the purpose of admitting privileges in an of themselves.
“There is no evidence that women who have complications from an abortion recover more quickly or more completely or with less pain or discomfort if their physician has admitting privileges,” Posner stated.
Heather Weininger, legislative director for Wisconsin Right to Life, said that she was disappointed with the ruling.
“Today’s decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to maintain the temporary restraining order on Wisconsin’s new law which requires a person performing an abortion to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles does not benefit women who suffer abortion complications,” she wrote in a statement on Friday. “It is disturbing that a woman is placed in an ambulance and sent to an emergency room where medical personnel do not know her medical history or what happened to her at the abortion clinic. The whole purpose of the law to protect women’s health is negated by preventing the law from going into effect.”
The case now heads back to Judge Conley, who will determine the constitutionality of the requirement in deciding whether or not to lift the injunction.