Marking an important victory for Wisconsin women, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit today rejected the Walker Administration’s efforts to reinstate an unconstitutional restriction on access to abortion. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the decision of U.S. District Court Judge William Conley that the Governor Walker backed admitting privileges law would place an undue burden on women’s access to safe and legal abortion. The three judge panel concurred that the law would not enhance patient safety and would impose an undue burden on women seeking abortion care.
During oral arguments, Judge Posner stated, "There is not a rational basis for your statute because it doesn't provide any health benefits for women seeking abortion.” Judge Posner added that the law was obviously designed to close down abortion clinics, had nothing to do with women's health and was a “clear flouting of Roe vs. Wade.”
“At Planned Parenthood, our top priority is patient safety. As the court affirmed, this law does nothing to enhance the health and safety of patients,” said Teri Huyck, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (PPWI). “The intention of this law was to put obstacles in the path of women seeking safe, legal abortion care in Wisconsin.”
If this law were permitted to take effect, one of the few remaining health centers providing abortion would be forced to close immediately, leaving the others to attempt to absorb the unmet need. This could delay procedures by up to 10 weeks, forcing abortions later in pregnancy, if a woman is able to have one at all.
The medical community agrees that requiring admitting privileges does not increase patient safety. Legal abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the United States. Admitting privileges do not hasten a patient’s care and are not required for any other medical procedure in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Medical Society joined the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association in a friend of the court brief explaining why the admitting privileges law does not enhance patient safety. In addition, the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the Wisconsin Public Health Association, the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, the Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards, and the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health all oppose Wisconsin’s admitting privileges statute.
“We applaud the Court’s ruling affirming that abortion is a decision that should be between a woman and her doctor and a decision that should be made without politicians interfering,” said Huyck. “For 80 years, PPWI has been providing high-quality, affordable, nonjudgmental care, and will continue to make sure people in our state have access to the health care they deserve — no matter what.”
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and another women’s health care provider, Affiliated Medical Services, are represented by attorneys from Cullen Weston Pines & Bach, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the American Civil Liberties Union.