Federal judge blocks Wisconsin abortion law through fall trial

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks in his Capitol office in Madison, Wis. on June 28. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer) Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks in his Capitol office in Madison in June. (Scott Bauer/AP)

A federal judge extended a preliminary injunction Friday blocking a Wisconsin law that would require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics and a mandatory ultrasound before a woman receives an abortion.

U.S. District Judge William Conley issued a temporary restraining order on July 8; this injunction extends through the trial about the law's constitutionality, which is scheduled to start Nov. 25. The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin had challenged the law signed by Gov. Scott Walker (R) last month, saying it would shutter half of the state's four clinics.

"Given the substantial likelihood of success on the merits and of irreparable harm, the public's interest is best serviced by imposing a preliminary injunction on enforcement of the admitting privileges requirement until this court can address its merits after trial," Conley wrote.

In an interview Friday during  the National Governors Association meeting in Milwaukee, Walker played down the importance of the law in the context of his overall record.

“In the last two and a half years, I have signed hundreds and hundreds of bills into law; about 96 percent of them have been bipartisan,” he said. “I think I’ve signed four or five that have to do in any way with abortion."

But Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, described the measure as part of a broader attack on women's rights.

Several of the laws enacted this year have already been barred or face serious legal challenges. Federal district courts blocked similar laws in Alabama and Mississippi earlier this year, and a North Dakota trial court blocked a law requiring hospital admitting privileges last month.

“This law is just one in an already too-long list of legislation passed this year and designed solely to interfere with a woman’s private medical decisions,” Kolbi-Molinas said in a statement. “We will not stand silent as extremist politicians attempt to take away women’s access to safe and legal abortion care.”



Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post's White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.



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