Jurisdictional Issues Preclude Settlement Over Wis. Medication Abortion Law

February 12, 2013 — Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin on Friday said it would end its federal lawsuit over a state medication abortion law (Act 217) and refile the suit in state court after jurisdictional issues impeded a settlement in the case, the Wisconsin State Journal reports (Treleven, Wisconsin State Journal, 2/9).

Under the law, physicians and patients would have to meet several requirements before a medication abortion, including the completion of three office visits and multiple steps to verify that the woman is seeking the abortion voluntarily.

According to the federal lawsuit, physicians who fail to follow the requirements can be subjected to criminal charges, civil penalties or disciplinary action. The suit argued that the law does not clearly spell out what physicians must do to comply with the requirements and should be struck down (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/12/12).

Agreement Details

Last week, PPWI and the Wisconsin Department of Justice reached an agreement to clarify how the law will be interpreted so that doctors will know whether they are in compliance. They filed the agreement in federal court on Wednesday.

However, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb on Thursday dismissed the proposed agreement because it would end the constitutional dispute in the case and thus place the matter outside of her jurisdiction.

Lester Pines, a lawyer representing PPWI, on Friday said the suit will be refiled in Dane County Circuit Court (Wisconsin State Journal, 2/9).