Federal Trial Begins Tuesday on Wisconsin's Abortion Law - WBAY

Federal Trial Begins Tuesday on Wisconsin's Abortion Law


A federal trial starts Tuesday over a new abortion provision in Wisconsin.

The law signed by Governor Scott Walker requires doctors performing abortions to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.

Federal Judge William Conley will decide whether the provision violates the U.S. Constitution and whether it poses an undue burden on women seeking abortions.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and Affiliated Medical Services sued after the legislation was signed into law last summer. Conley put a temporary block on the provision; the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld that ruing leading up to this week's trial.

Another provision of the law requiring women seeking abortions to get an ultrasound has taken effect.

Planned Parenthood claimed an abortion clinic it operates in Grand Chute would be forced to shut down because of the law. In pre-trial documents recently filed in preparation for this week's trial, it's reported doctors have received admitting privileges in Grand Chute, which would allow abortions to continue.

Yet opponents of the law plan to argue those privileges could be taken away.

In a pre-trial brief the plaintiffs argue, "...if the Act were to take effect, it would hinder (Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin's) ability to provide abortions at all three of its health centers by making it impossible to move physicians to different locales to address physician illnesses, vacations or maternity leaves, let alone gaps in physical employment."

Lawyers will also argue Affiliated Medical Services in Milwaukee "would close immediately" because doctors have been unable to obtain admitting privileges. Court documents indicate Affiliated Medical Services provided more than 2,500 abortions in 2013 in Wisconsin.

The state plans to argue the requirement is a "legitimate state interest" aimed at improving medical care and hospital oversight for women statewide.

The state's pre-trial brief argued "a significant number of Planned Parenthood physicians now have admitting privileges in Milwaukee and Appleton, and there is no justification to close the Appleton clinic."

The pre-trial brief says the state will argue the measure "is a rational regulation aimed at improving care for abortion patients who experience potentially life-threatening abortion complications."

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a group supporting abortion rights, eight states including Wisconsin require doctors performing abortions to have hospital admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Laws in Alabama and Mississippi are being challenged.

Any decision will likely be appealed.

The issue could be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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