Wisconsin Asks Supreme Court to Consider Abortion Case

Law Would Shut Down One of the State’s Few Remaining Clinics

Affiliate: ACLU of Wisconsin
March 22, 2016 4:15 pm

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Wisconsin
Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

NEW YORK — The State of Wisconsin filed a petition today asking the Supreme Court to reinstate a law that would shut down abortion clinics.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the law, which would have required doctors who provide abortion care to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital. The restriction is one that the Supreme Court is currently considering in a Texas case argued earlier this month, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

If implemented, the Wisconsin law would close one of the state’s few remaining abortion clinics and would force a woman to wait eight to 10 weeks to access abortion care.

“As in the Texas case before the Supreme Court, these laws are not about women’s health,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project. “They are about restricting a woman’s access to constitutionally protected abortion care.”

Research and reporting evaluating the effect of similar measures in Texas has found that clinic closures resulted in significant burdens for women, including delay, increased travel distances, high out-of-pocket costs, overnight stays, and decreased access to medication abortion.

Hospitals typically require doctors to admit a minimum number of patients to have admitting privileges. But because abortion is an extraordinarily safe procedure that very rarely requires hospital admission, doctors who specialize in abortion care often cannot obtain admitting privileges.

“As a health care provider, we have seen how these restrictions hurt women by putting safe, legal abortion out of reach.” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “In Texas, women have been forced to travel out of state, or attempted to end pregnancies on their own, without medical assistance. We’re deeply concerned that we’ll see this more and more if the courts allow these laws to take effect.”

Though opponents of abortion care claim that these restrictions support women’s health, courts have found that such barriers obstruct and delay women, forcing them to access care weeks later in pregnancy, which increases the risks involved.

“In its ruling, the federal appeals court evaluated the medical evidence and agreed with the medical experts that Wisconsin’s law provides no health benefit to women seeking abortion care,” said Chris Ahmuty, executive director of ACLU of Wisconsin. “The law intends to close clinics and prevent a woman who has decided to have an abortion from actually getting one.”

The case, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin v. Schimel, was brought by the ACLU, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the ACLU of Wisconsin on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and Affiliated Medical Services.

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.

Learn More About the Issues in This Press Release