Planned Parenthood, ACLU sue Wisconsin over abortion law

July 6, 2013

Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Civil Liberties Union are suing Wisconsin to try to block a new law that would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

The law, set to take effect Monday, was “rushed” through the legislative process last month, the groups said in a complaint filed Friday in federal court in Madison, Wis. The measure would force two of the state’s four abortion providers to shut down, according to the complaint. A fifth clinic is set to close for unrelated reasons, according to the groups.

“The purpose and effect of the requirement, which is wholly unnecessary and unreasonable, is to impose a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking abortion prior to viability, in violation of their constitutional right to privacy,” lawyers for the groups said in the complaint.

Wisconsin is one of several states where legal battles are taking place over newly introduced hospital-privilege requirements for abortion providers. Federal judges in Alabama and Mississippi have issued orders stopping similar laws from being implemented after finding that they might cause substantial burdens for women seeking to terminate pregnancies.

Doctors performing abortions often have difficulty obtaining hospital privileges because they can’t meet certain terms, such as a minimum number of patient admissions, according to the ACLU. Less than 0.3 percent of abortion patients require hospitalization, the groups said in their complaint. Some hospitals may also have religious objections to offering admission privileges to abortion providers, the groups alleged.

The Wisconsin law would force clinics in Milwaukee and Appleton to close and cause Planned Parenthood to cut staff and services at another clinic in Milwaukee, the state’s most populous city. The changes would make the procedure unavailable after 19 weeks of pregnancy and leave much of the state without any abortion providers, according to the complaint.

A representative of Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen didn’t immediately return a request for comment Friday evening.

“Enough is enough,” Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement. “Politicians can no longer be permitted to shut down clinics that provide safe abortions and prevent a woman from making the best decision for her and her family.”

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