MADISON – Three days after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed several pro-life measures into law, a federal judge temporarily blocked a portion of the new legislation, claiming the measures would cause “irreparable harm” to some women.
As previously reported, Governor Walker on Friday approved Senate Bill 206 (SB206), 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 SB206. “The health and safety of American women are at stake—and that is why this unconstitutional law cannot be allowed to stand.”
Furthermore, Planned Parenthood announced earlier this week the launching of a new TV ad specifically designed to “attack” Wisconsin’s SB206. The 30-second commercial is currently running on stations in Columbus, Ohio, and features a rape victim sharing her testimony of how Planned Parenthood “provided the care and the support that [she] really needed” after her sexual abuse.
On Monday, as a result of the pressure from Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, federal Judge William Conley decided to temporarily block a portion of SB206. Conley is the presiding judge over the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, and was appointed by Barack Obama in 2009.
In his decision, Conley ordered SB206’s measure requiring abortion facilities to 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.
Conley further argued that Wisconsin 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.”
Prior to Judge Conley’s ruling, abortion advocates had warned that several abortion facilities would have to close their doors as a result of SB206’s passage. According to a report from WITI in Milwaukee, Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Appleton was planning to close this week. However, as of Wednesday afternoon, the abortion-providing Appleton North Health Center was open for business, and a representative said she was unaware of any upcoming closures.
Meanwhile, pro-life supporters see the court injunction as an unfortunate—albeit temporary—roadblock to much-needed health measures. According to Reuters, Susan Armacost of Wisconsin Right to Life said she believes SB206 will one day be fully implemented.
“We are not surprised, but we are absolutely confident that this law will be upheld,” she said.