Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
Judge William Conley from the Western District of Wisconsin has become the latest federal jurist to throw a roadblock in front of the rampaging steamroller of anti-choice Republicans. The Wisconsin legislature introduced a bill mandating new abortion restrictions June 4, and passed it into law June 14. Governor Scott Walker signed the bill Friday, July 5, while Wisconsin’s eyes were on the Independence Day fireworks and not on Madison. But for Judge Conley’s order, the new regulations would have taken effect yesterday.
Like most of the of the other states that have Republican legislatures rushing to take away a pregnant woman’s control over her own body and give it to the state, the Wisconsin law contains a provision requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. This is a particularly onerous requirement, because most hospitals require admitting physicians to admit a minimum number of patients each year, and abortion patients very rarely require hospitalization. It was this provision that Judge Conley found objectionable writing in his order:
“there is a troubling lack of justification for the hospital admitting privileges requirement.”
Noting that the Supreme Court has ruled any restriction to abortion must be made in the interest of the health of the mother, Judge Conley said of the the demand for admitting privileges that:
“the record to date strongly supports a finding that no medical purpose is served by this requirement.”
He went on to say:
“the current system already handles efficiently the very low percentage of women seeking abortions with serious complications.” He also said the state is “unlikely to meet its burden of proof that admission privileges requirement will improve care for patients who experience problems after an abortion.”
Another provision of the new Wisconsin abortion law, requiring any woman seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound 24 hours before the procedure, was not stayed by the judge, and is presumably now in effect. Proponents of the pre-abortion ultrasound argue it will encourage pregnant women to bond with the fetus, and change their minds. Victims of rape and incest are excused from the ultra-sound. It is hard to see how this attempt to manipulate the emotions of the mother fits the Supreme Court’s direction that all restrictions imposed by states must be made with the health of the mother in mind.
Planned Parenthood and Wisconsin and Affiliated Medical Service joined in a lawsuit challenging the new Wisconsin law. The American Civil Liberties Union has also filed their own suit. A full hearing on matter will be held July 17.
Photo from Scott Walker’s Facebook page
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