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Federal Judge Extends Injunction on Wis. Admitting-Privileges Law

Federal Judge Extends Injunction on Wis. Admitting-Privileges Law

July 19, 2013 — A federal judge on Wednesday extended a temporary injunction by two weeks on a provision in a Wisconsin law (SB 206) that would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, Reuters reports (O'Brien, Reuters, 7/17).

U.S. District Judge William Conley originally first issued a temporary injunction on July 8, after Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit seeking to block the law from taking effect earlier this month as scheduled. That injunction was intended to stay the law until a July 17 hearing.

The law also requires a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound at least 24 hours before the procedure. In addition, it mandates that the doctor or individual performing the ultrasound try to detect the fetal heartbeat, as well as describe the size, location and number of fetuses, and any body parts or organs that are visible. The woman would not be required to look at the ultrasound images or heartbeat monitor, and the bill would not apply in cases of rape, incest or emergencies (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/9).

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Conley said he would decide whether to impose a preliminary injunction within the next two weeks (Reuters, 7/17).

"The fact that a few doctors are willing to say [the admitting-privileges requirement is] a good idea is not enough," Conley said, adding that he might appoint a medical expert to look into whether the provision is beneficial to women's health (Rohde/Smythe, Bloomberg Businessweek, 7/17).

During Wednesday's hearing, Carrie Flaxman -- an attorney for Planned Parenthood -- argued that the law "will pose a significant undue burden for the women of Wisconsin." Planned Parenthood and another abortion provider in the state -- Affiliated Medical Services -- said that the measure could close abortion clinics.

Meanwhile, proponents argued that the law ensures women receive the best health care (Reuters, 7/17). Daniel Lennington -- assistant attorney general for Wisconsin -- said that even if the law required women to travel farther for abortion services, it would not be an undue burden. "Roughly 10 percent of Wisconsin women already go to Minneapolis," he explained, adding there is not a "wall around Wisconsin" (Bloomberg Businessweek, 7/17).