Tags: wisconsin | abortion | law | rebuffed

Wisconsin Rebuffed by High Court in Defense of Abortion Law

Monday, 23 Jun 2014 12:35 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear arguments in defense of a Wisconsin law that would require doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

Rejecting an appeal by Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, the justices today left intact an appeals court ruling temporarily blocking the 2013 law because of the likelihood that it would limit access to abortion. Two clinic operators and two doctors who provide abortions are challenging the measure.

The rebuff puts the focus of the case on a federal trial court in Madison, where a U.S. district judge is considering whether to permanently block the law.

The legality of hospital-privilege laws is becoming an increasingly important issue in the fight over abortion. Similar statutes have been challenged in Texas, Mississippi and Alabama.

In November, a divided Supreme Court let Texas enforce its hospital-privileges law, a measure that prompted at least a dozen clinics to close. The Texas case reached the high court under different circumstances, after an appeals court said the law could go into effect during the legal fight.

Dana Brueck, a spokeswoman for Van Hollen, said the attorney general will continue to defend the statute.

‘Upheld Elsewhere’

“Similar laws have been upheld elsewhere, and we expect the same result in Wisconsin,” he said.

The Wisconsin case went to trial before U.S. District Judge William Conley in Madison on May 27. The judge, who heard the case over three days without a jury, hasn’t issued a final ruling.

It was Conley’s August 2013 order to temporarily block enforcement of the law that set in motion the state’s subsequent appeals. The measure requires doctors performing clinic abortions to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles (48 kilometers) of their facility.

While the state argued the law was intended to protect women’s health, opponents countered it was a collateral attack intended to force clinics to close where doctors couldn’t meet the requirement, depriving women of their constitutionally protected right to the procedure.

“The district judge’s grant of the injunction must be upheld,” the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago said in its December decision to uphold Conley’s injunction. “It is beyond dispute that the plaintiffs face greater” irreparable harm if the law goes into effect than the state does if it’s stalled, the court said.

The Wisconsin measure was one of more than 200 abortion restrictions passed nationwide after a Republican-led state- legislative push began in 2011. During that time, more than 70 clinics closed or stopped offering the procedure even as legal battles continue.

The Wisconsin case is Van Hollen v. Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, 13-1127, U.S. Supreme Court (Washington).


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The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear arguments in defense of a Wisconsin law that would require doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Rejecting an appeal by Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, the justices today left intact...
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2014-35-23
Monday, 23 Jun 2014 12:35 PM
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