The heated debate over the Texas bill that would ban late-term abortions continues. But while the nation’s attention has been focused on the Lone Star State, there’s another abortion controversy brewing, this time in Wisconsin.
Last Friday, Governor Scott Walker signed a piece of legislation, called Sonya’s Law, that will require women seeking abortions to be given the opportunity to get ultrasounds. The bill also prohibits doctors who don’t have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals from performing abortions.
But opponents of the bill, which was set to take effect on Monday, were quick to act and enlisted the help of a federal judge. According to the Associated Press:
A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday evening to block enforcement of a new Wisconsin law that bans doctors who lack admitting privileges at nearby hospitals from performing abortions.
U.S. District Judge William Conley granted the order following a hearing in a lawsuit filed Friday by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and Affiliated Medical Services. It alleged the requirement would unconstitutionally restrict the availability of abortions in the state, violates the U.S. Constitution’s due process guarantee and unconstitutionally treats doctors who perform abortions differently from those who perform other procedures.
Planned Parenthood released a statement, claiming that the bill “will jeopardize women’s health by shutting down two abortion health centers and decreasing capacity by at least 50% in one of the two remaining abortion health centers in Wisconsin.”
In contrast, Susan Armacost, the legislative director of Wisconsin Right to Life, explained the main reasoning behind the admitting privileges requirement:
Currently, when a woman experiences hemorrhaging or other life-threatening complications after an abortion in Wisconsin, the clinic puts her in an ambulance and sends her to a hospital ALONE where she is left to her own devices to explain her medical issues to the emergency room staff. The abortionist who performed the abortion is nowhere to be seen. This deplorable situation must change.
Apart from protecting these women’s lives, this law was further described by Armacost as one that will “empower women to make truly informed decisions regarding how they will proceed with their pregnancies,” given the ultrasound provision.
So until the fuller hearing takes place on July 17, the restraining order will remain in place so that clinics don’t have to cancel their abortion appointments. But Armacost is confident the bill stands on solid constitutional ground, given that similar laws in other states have been challenged and upheld.