Tag Archives: admitting privileges

Oklahoma Supreme Court throws out anti-abortion law

The Oklahoma Supreme Court this week threw out a law requiring abortion clinics to have doctors with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, saying efforts to portray the measure as protecting women’s health are a “guise.”

The law would require a doctor with admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles be present for any abortion. The court found it violates both the U.S. and Oklahoma Constitutions. The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year struck down a similar provision in Texas.

“Under the guise of the protection of women’s health,” Oklahoma Justice Joseph Watt wrote, “(the law) creates an undue burden on a woman’s access to abortion, violating protected rights under our federal Constitution,” referring specifically to the Texas case.

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin signed the measure, Senate Bill 1848, into law in 2014, but courts had blocked it from taking effect. This week’s ruling overturns a lower court’s decision in February that upheld the law.

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights challenged the law on behalf of Dr. Larry Burns, a Norman physician who, at the time the lawsuit was filed in October 2014, performed nearly half of Oklahoma’s abortions.

Burns has said he applied for admitting privileges at hospitals in the Oklahoma City area but was turned down.

Also, at the time, the only other clinic in the state that performed abortions was in Tulsa. However the Trust Women South Wind Women’s Center opened in south Oklahoma City in September and Planned Parenthood opened in the northwest Oklahoma City suburb of Warr Acres in November.

“Today’s decision is a victory for Oklahoma women and another rebuke to politicians pushing underhanded laws that attack a woman’s constitutionally guaranteed right to safe, legal abortion,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but previously has said that bill was passed to protect the health and safety of Oklahoma women.

The court also found that the law violates the Oklahoma Constitution’s ban on measures containing more than one subject, a practice known as logrolling. The law included “12 separate and unrelated subsections,” the court said.

“The sections in SB 1848 are so unrelated and misleading that a legislator voting on this matter could have been left with an unpalatable all-or-nothing choice,” according to the ruling.

The court’s ruling came the same day that the Oklahoma Board of Health approved new requirements for hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants and public schools to post signs inside public restrooms directing pregnant women where to receive services as part of an effort to reduce abortions in the state.

The provision mandating the signs was tucked into a measure the Legislature passed this year that requires the state to develop informational material “for the purpose of achieving an abortion-free society.”

Businesses and other organizations estimate they will have to pay $2.3 million to put up the signs because the Legislature approved no funding for them.

The Legislature and the governor must ratify the board’s rules for the signs before they are scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, board attorney Donald Maisch said.

In Ohio, Republican Gov. John Kasich this week signed a 20-week abortion ban while vetoing stricter provisions in a separate measure that would have barred the procedure at the first detectable fetal heartbeat. The so-called heartbeat bill would have prohibited most abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

In Florida, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to block additional parts of a contentious Florida abortion law. The lawsuit contends that the law violates constitutional rights by requiring groups to register with the state and pay a fee if they advise or help women seek abortions. The lawsuit also challenges a provision requiring groups to tell women about alternatives to abortion.

Planned Parenthood calls to repeal admitting privileges law

Planned Parenthood and Democratic lawmakers called on the Republican-led Wisconsin Legislature to strike an abortion restriction from the state’s legal code even though the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down, rendering it unenforceable.

The Supreme Court overturned a similar Texas statute requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, then rejected Wisconsin’s appeal seeking to have its own statute reinstated. The court found that such regulations are medically unnecessary and that they would unconstitutionally limit a woman’s right to abortion.

Although Wisconsin’s law has been nullified, Planned Parenthood and the Democrats want it removed from the books entirely.

“Allowing this law to remain on the books represents a state-sponsored violation of the dignity and civil liberties of every woman in the state of Wisconsin,” said Mel Barnes, a legal and policy associate for the group’s advocacy arm in the state, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin.

Thirty-five Democratic legislators signed a letter delivered to Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Thursday calling for the repeal of the admitting privileges provision.

“Our laws in Wisconsin should reflect the law of the land,” Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, a La Crosse Democrat, said in a statement.

Fitzgerald said in a statement that Wisconsin statutes are revised to reflect court rulings on an ongoing basis and already include a permanent injunction against this section of the law, so a repeal of Act 37 is unnecessary.

“This letter is nothing but a publicity stunt by Democrat legislators,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Vos didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the prospects for the repeal of the law.

Barnes didn’t specify whether the organization would go after other still-valid portions of Wisconsin’s abortion laws, but she said the organization is always exploring all of its legal options.

Among the most disputed restrictions Wisconsin has enacted in recent years are a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and required ultrasounds before the procedures can be performed.

The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging a similar 20-week abortion ban in Georgia and filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging an ultrasound requirement in Indiana. Those cases could ultimately impact Wisconsin’s laws.

Anti-abortion advocates and legislators in Wisconsin have already lined up a series of legislative efforts for the upcoming session to further regulate abortion.

Rep. Jesse Kremer, a Republican from Kewaskum, plans to introduce a bill requiring doctors to inform patients of the ability to reverse medication-induced abortions after taking the drug — a practice disputed by the medical community. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says claims of reversal aren’t supported by scientific evidence.

The Wisconsin Right to Life group is also pursuing a ban on dilation-and-extraction, a common second-trimester abortion technique that opponents call “dismemberment abortions.” Several states recently banned the practice.

Supreme victories and anti-choice laws topple

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 27 struck down anti-choice legislation in Texas with a decisive 5-3 ruling, imperiling similar measures in other states.

By June 28, the high court had ruled against Wisconsin and Mississippi, where Republican leaders sought to appeal lower court rulings on their anti-choice provisions.

Also, the Alabama attorney general announced the state would no longer defend its admitting-privilege requirements.

The “complete and total victory … renews the promise of Roe v. Wade for the next generation,” said Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

At the ACLU, Jennifer Dalven of the Reproductive Freedom Project said, “The Supreme Court’s decision made crystal clear that laws like Alabama’s, Mississippi’s and Wisconsin’s that rely on sham justifications to prevent a woman from having an abortion are unconstitutional.”

Such laws are called Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers or TRAP measures.

“Wisconsin has not been immune to its share of TRAP laws,” said U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis. “In the last year alone, Gov. Scott Walker signed two different bills with the goal to defund our state’s Planned Parenthood centers. These health clinics are vital to the well-being of our communities.”

Moore said she was thrilled by the developments at the Supreme Court, beginning with that Monday morning decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt out of Texas.

The Texas measure

The Texas law, HB2, was devastating in its impact on women and their families in just a few years.

More than 40 abortion clinics were open in January 2013, when Rick Perry led an avowed push to end abortion in Texas.

The law, signed by Perry in July 2013, required that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their clinic and required clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery. Such standards include requirements for corridor width, floor tiles, parking spaces, elevator size, electrical wiring, plumbing and even the angle water flows from drinking fountains.

Proponents of HB2 said the intent was to protect women undergoing medical procedures.

Critics said the intent was to reduce or eliminate women’s access to abortions and to force clinics out of business.

By the time the justices issued their ruling June 27, only 19 clinics remained open in Texas.

Planned Parenthood and other providers filed the first challenge to HB 2.

A federal judge blocked implementation of the measure in October 2013, but an appeals court lifted the hold in March 2014.

Whole Woman’s Health and other providers brought a new challenge in 2014. A district court ruled the admitting privileges and clinic requirements were an unconstitutional burden on women’s access to reproductive health care, but an appeals court again reversed the lower court.

Care providers turned to the Supreme Court, which put a hold on further enforcement of the law and then heard the merits of the case in March.

During oral arguments, it was clear where the court’s four liberal justices stood, where the court’s three most conservative justices stood but not which side Justice Anthony Kennedy would stand on. His vote, always crucial, had even more impact after the death of Antonin Scalia in February.

Kennedy and Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were in the majority.

Breyer wrote the opinion for the majority: “The surgical-center requirement, like the admitting privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so.”

Ginsburg wrote a concurring opinion, saying the Texas law, and laws like it, “do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion, (and) cannot survive judicial inspection.”

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the dissenting opinion, which was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.

Thomas said the court has a “troubling tendency to bend the rules when any effort to limit abortion, or even to speak in opposition to abortion, is at issue.”

President Barack Obama and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton praised the decision, as did many Democrats across the country — from Capitol Hill to state capitols and city halls.

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, in a conference call with reporters after the June 27 announcement, called the decision an enormous victory for women.

And Teri Huyck, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, said, “We applaud the court’s ruling affirming that abortion is a decision that should be between a woman and her doctor and a decision that should be made without politicians interfering.

“Yet, today’s victory does not undo the past five years of damage and restrictions already written into law. No woman or doctor should be punished for receiving or providing essential medical care.”

On the opposing side, Judie Brown of the American Life League responded to the court decision with a call to escalate anti-choice campaigns. She said the decision “serves as a blaring wake-up call to the mainstream pro-life movement that dinking and dithering over regulating the killing can never serve as a replacement for the fundamental battle that is not being fought — the battle for the recognition that every innocent preborn human being is a unique person from the moment of his biological beginning.”

The impact

Within hours of the court ruling, the Alabama attorney general announced the state would not defend its admitting-privileges requirements.

Then, on June 28, the Supreme Court rejected appeals from Wisconsin and Mississippi.

“The Supreme Court’s decision today denying cert in Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin v. Schimel is not surprising given the court’s decision yesterday in a similar Texas abortion law case,” said Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel in a statement to the press. “The opinion of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals stands and those portions of our law addressed by the decision are now permanently enjoined.”

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin said the court’s rejection of the appeal means the case is over and Republicans’ admitting-privileges restrictions are permanently blocked.

Planned Parenthood was involved in the lawsuit, along with Affiliated Medical Services. They were represented by attorneys from Cullen Weston Pines and Bach, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the ACLU.

“We are pleased the Supreme Court recognized the true intention behind this law,” said Tanya Atkinson, executive director of PPAW. “Gov. Walker’s relentless pursuit and defense of unconstitutional laws clearly shows just how much elections matter. We need to elect leaders who understand that abortion is a deeply personal decision that a woman should be able to make in consultation with her family, her faith and her health care provider — without government interference.”

At WiG press time, other states with admitting-privilege requirements included Missouri, North Dakota and Tennessee, where they were in force, and Kansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, where they were on hold.

Other states with laws requiring clinics to follow hospital-like surgery center standards include Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Tennessee.

Planned Parenthood’s Richards said the ruling in Whole Woman’s Health was just the beginning:

“This decision has opened the door to go state by state, legislature by legislature, law by law, and restore access to safe, legal abortion.”

Appeals court: Wisconsin abortion law is unconstitutional

In a ruling that Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin called “an important victory for Wisconsin women,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit yesterday rejected a Wisconsin law requiring abortion providers to get admitting privileges at nearby hospitals is unconstitutional.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel’s 2–1 decision doesn’t put the question to rest. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed earlier this month to hear a challenge to a similar Texas law in a case that could settle the issue nationally.

The Wisconsin case centers on a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services. The groups argue that the 2013 Republican-backed law amounts to an unconstitutional restriction on abortion.

The law’s supporters counter it ensures continuity of care if a woman developed complications from an abortion and needed to be hospitalized. But the lawsuit said the statute would force AMS’s clinic in Milwaukee to close because its doctors couldn’t get admitting privileges. That in turn would lead to longer waits at Planned Parenthood clinics. Therefore, the lawsuit maintained, the law amounts to an illegal restriction on abortions.

U.S. District Judge William Conley sided with the abortion providers in March, saying the law served no legitimate health interest. The Wisconsin Department of Justice later appealed to the 7th Circuit.

Writing for the 7th Circuit majority, Judge Richard Posner called the contention that the law would protect women’s health “nonexistent.” He said the law would put more women in danger by increasing the waiting times for abortions, which could push some procedures into the second trimester.

“What makes no sense is to abridge the constitutional right to abortion on the basis of spurious contentions regarding women’s health — and the abridgement challenged in this case would actually endanger women’s health,” he wrote.

Posner added that the law was obviously designed to close down abortion clinics, had nothing to do with women’s health and was a “clear flouting of Roe vs. Wade.”

He also said that a woman who experiences complications from an abortion will go to the nearest hospital, which will treat her regardless of whether her abortion doctor has admitting privileges there.

The medical community agrees that requiring admitting privileges does not increase patient safety, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin said in a statement to the press. Legal abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the United States (and) admitting privileges do not hasten a patient’s care and are not required for any other medical procedure in Wisconsin, the group added.

The Wisconsin Medical Society joined the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association in a friend of the court brief explaining why admitting privileges do not enhance patient safety. The Wisconsin Hospital Association, the Wisconsin Public Health Association, the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, the Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards, and the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health all oppose Wisconsin’s admitting privileges statute.

“At Planned Parenthood, our top priority is patient safety. As the court affirmed, this law does nothing to enhance the health and safety of patients,” said Teri Huyck, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. “The intention of this law was to put obstacles in the path of women seeking safe, legal abortion care in Wisconsin.”

In his ruling, Posner noted that the law required providers to obtain privileges within two days of Gov. Scott Walker signing it, even though the process typically takes months. If Conley hadn’t imposed a preliminary injunction, AMS’ Milwaukee clinic as well as Planned Parenthood’s Appleton facility would have had to close immediately because providers at both facilities lacked privileges without

“The legislature’s intention to impose the two-day deadline … is difficult to explain save as a method of preventing abortions that women have a constitutional right to obtain,” Posner wrote.

Judge David Manion was the lone dissenter, saying the law protects women’s health and doesn’t amount to an undue constitutional burden.

Eleven states have imposed similar admitting privilege requirements on abortion providers; courts have blocked the requirements in six states, including Wisconsin, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports legal access to abortion.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice, run by Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel, defended the law.

Federal judge strikes down restrictive Wisconsin abortion law

UPDATED: A federal judge on March 20 struck down a Wisconsin law requiring doctors performing abortions to get hospital admitting privileges, ruling that any benefits to women’s health from the requirement are “substantially outweighed” by its restricting access to abortion.

U.S. District Judge William Conley, who earlier had put the law on hold, said the 2013 law is unconstitutional. He issued a permanent injunction blocking enforcement.

Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services had sued the state, arguing the requirement will force AMS’s Milwaukee clinic to close because its doctors can’t get admitting privileges. The groups argued that would amount to restricting access to abortions.

State attorneys contended the mandate would ensure continuity of care for women hospitalized with abortion complications.

“While the court agrees with the State that sometimes it is necessary to reduce access to ensure safety, this is decidedly not one of those instances,” Conley wrote. “In particular, the State has failed to meet its burden of demonstrating through credible evidence a link between the admitting privileges requirement and a legitimate health interest.”

In a statement, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union noted that only four health centers provide abortions in Wisconsin. If the law took effect, the largest of those centers would be forced to close immediately and the remaining three “will not be able to absorb the unmet need.”

“Politicians, not doctors, crafted this law for the sole purpose of shutting down women’s health care centers and preventing women from getting safe, legal abortions,” ACLU deputy legal director Louise Melling stated.

“With an over 99 percent safety record, abortion is very safe,” Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin said in an email. “Politically-motivated restrictions like this make it harder for a woman to access safe and legal abortion in Wisconsin.”

Conley said at the hearing on the lawsuit that he was worried the law was too rigid. He noted that the law required providers to get privileges within three days of its enactment. Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed the law on July 5, 2013, and it required providers to have privileges in place by July 8, 2013.

In his ruling, Conley noted that the “sudden adoption” of the permitting requirements, without giving enough time for compliance, “compels a finding that its purpose was to impose a substantial obstacle on women’s right to abortions in Wisconsin.”

Fourteen states require doctors performing abortions to either have hospital admitting privileges or some sort of alternative agreement, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights. Five other states have passed such restrictions but courts have put them on hold.

The ruling did not strike down Wisconsin’s controversial policy of forcing pregnant women to undergo invasive ultrasound procedures to view their fetuses prior to obtaining abortions. The lawsuit did not seek judgment on that facet of the restrictive abortion laws adopted in Wisconsin under Republican leadership.

Federal court blocks enforcement of Louisiana anti-abortion law

A Louisiana state law intended to close abortion clinics across the state will not be enforced on Sept. 1, according to a federal district court ruling issued over the weekend.

Louisiana health care providers filed a suit in federal district court in Baton Rouge last week seeking an immediate injunction against House Bill 388, which requires a doctor who provides abortion care to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital. With the federal decision, physicians providing abortion services will not be forced to comply with the law if they are in the process of applying for hospital admitting privileges.

Admitting privileges requirements were pushed around the country, including in Wisconsin, by anti-choice politicians. Yet, studies show that admitting privileges provide no increased benefits for the fewer than 1 percent of abortion patients who experience complications. Also, privileges can often be impossible to obtain due to individual hospital policies or biases toward abortion providers for reasons not related to the doctors’ qualifications.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the federal ruling “ensures Louisiana women are safe from an underhanded law that seeks to strip them of their health and rights. Politicians cannot be given free rein to lie about their motives without recourse, and expect women and their families to pay the consequences.”

She continued, “As the flimsy façade of these laws grows thinner by the day, we continue to look to the courts to uphold the Constitution and protect access to safe and legal abortion for all women regardless of where they happen to live.”

Ilene Jaroslaw of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Demme Doufekias of Morrison & Foerster and William E. Rittenberg of Rittenberg, Samuel, and Phillips, LLC represent Hope Medical Group for Women, Causeway Medical Clinic and Bossier City Medical Suite in the legal challenge to the Louisiana law.

If the law had been put into effect on Sept. 1, at least three of the state’s five clinics would have been forced to stop providing abortion services or close.

U.S. appeals court blocks Mississippi’s abortion law

Mississippi’s governor and attorney general will have to decide whether to challenge a federal appeals court ruling that is keeping the state’s only abortion clinic in business.

A panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 on July 29 to block a 2012 Mississippi law that requires abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

When Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed the law, he said he hoped it would end abortion in the state. In defending the law, state attorneys said women with unwanted pregnancies could always travel to other states. But the appellate judges ruled that every state must guarantee constitutional rights, including abortion.

Bryant, in a statement, said the court’s ruling disappointed him.

Ten states, including Wisconsin, have adopted similar laws, forcing a growing number of clinics to close. Many hospitals ignore or reject abortion doctors’ applications, and they won’t grant privileges to out-of-state physicians. The traveling doctors who staff Mississippi’s last open clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, encountered both obstacles.

The ruling from the conservative 5th Circuit was narrowly crafted to address the situation in Mississippi, but it could have implications for the other states with similar laws and dwindling access to abortion, such as Wisconsin and Alabama, whose officials have said women could cross state lines if clinics close, said the center’s litigation director, Julie Rikelman.

Attorneys for Mississippi argued that if the state’s last clinic closed, women could still get abortions in other states. But the judges said the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision established a constitutional right to abortion for all citizens — and that Mississippi may not shift its obligations to other states.

“Pre-viability, a woman has the constitutional right to end her pregnancy by abortion,” wrote judges E. Grady Jolly of Mississippi and Stephen A. Higginson of Louisiana. The law signed by Bryant “effectively extinguishes that right within Mississippi’s borders,” they said.

Supporters of admitting-privileges laws say they protect women’s health by ensuring that a physician who performs an abortion in a clinic would also be able to treat the patient in a hospital in case of complications.

Opponents say the requirement is unnecessary, since complications are extremely rare and patients in distress are automatically treated in emergency rooms. Critics also contend that the law gives religious-affiliated hospitals veto power over who can work in an abortion clinic and, by extension, whether a clinic can stay open.

“Today’s ruling ensures women who have decided to end a pregnancy will continue, for now, to have access to safe, legal care in their home state,” said Center for Reproductive Rights president Nancy Northup.

A different panel of the 5th Circuit, which handles cases from Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, upheld a 2013 Texas law requiring physicians to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. In that March ruling, the judges said traveling fewer than 150 miles to obtain an abortion is “not an undue burden.”

Even now, women from Iuka, Mississippi, in the state’s northeast corner, need to drive 280 miles to reach Jackson.

The clinic remains open, using out-of-state physicians who travel to Mississippi to do abortions several times a month. For years, the clinic has had an agreement with a local physician who will meet a patient at a Jackson hospital in case of complications. Clinic owner Diane Derzis has said such complications are rare.

Judge extends hold on Wisconsin anti-choice law

A federal judge on Friday extended his hold on a portion of a new Wisconsin law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, issuing an injunction blocking the mandate for another four months.

U.S. District Judge William Conley’s order stems from a lawsuit Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services filed in July. The organizations say the law would force a Planned Parenthood clinic in Appleton and an AMS clinic in Milwaukee to close because abortion providers at both facilities lack admitting privileges.

Conley issued a temporary hold on the provisions on July 8. The organizations asked him to issue a preliminary injunction that would block the requirement through a trial set to begin Nov. 25.

State attorneys defending the law could ask the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the injunction. A spokeswoman for the state Justice Department said in an email that agency lawyers are reviewing Conley’s order and considering their “next step.” She did not elaborate. As the case stands now the two clinics can remain open at least until Conley issues a final ruling after the trial.

The judge justified the injunction by finding state attorneys aren’t likely to prove the admitting privileges requirement is reasonably related to a woman’s health and the organizations probably can show the mandate poses a substantial obstacle to obtaining abortions.

“Given the substantial likelihood of success on the merits and of irreparable harm, the public’s interest is best serviced by imposing a preliminary injunction on enforcement of the admitting privileges requirement until this court can address its merits after trial,” Conley wrote.

Lester Pines, one of the organizations’ attorneys, said he was pleased with the injunction.

“The judge has evaluated it and said in no uncertain terms there’s no medical basis for this requirement,” Pines said. “What you take from that is the purpose … is to put barriers in the way of women getting abortions.”

Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed the GOP-authored law on July 5, making Wisconsin one of several states where hospital admitting privileges are required for abortion providers. A similar mandate was included in sweeping legislation that Texas lawmakers approved in July after weeks of protests. The only abortion clinic still operating in Mississippi is fighting in federal court to stay open after a 2012 state law imposed admitting privilege requirements on it.

Planned Parenthood and AMS filed their lawsuit the day Walker signed the bill. The groups argued women would have to travel hundreds of miles farther to obtain abortions at Planned Parenthood facilities in Madison and Milwaukee, where providers have admitting privileges. They also say the law unconstitutionally restricts the availability of abortions in Wisconsin, violates the U.S. Constitution’s due process guarantee and unconstitutionally treats abortion providers different than other doctors.

They’ve also argued that losing the Appleton Planned Parenthood clinic and the AMS facility would create scheduling delays at the state’s remaining clinics as they cope with more demand. They contend, too, that closing the AMS clinic would effectively end abortions after 19 weeks in Wisconsin because no other facility offers them after that point.

DOJ attorneys defending the law have countered the requirement is meant to ensure continuity of care if a woman develops complications following an abortion. They maintain driving longer distances to obtain an abortion from a provider with admitting privileges isn’t an undue burden and providers at the Appleton and AMS Milwaukee clinics should apply for privileges. The organizations’ attorneys counter the application process can take months.

But Conley wrote in his order Friday that DOJ has so far failed to prove quality of care is linked to admitting privileges.

He went on to say women would have to travel further for abortions if the Appleton and Milwaukee clinics closed, forcing them to pay more for gas and creating more stress and worry. With the state short two clinics women would face longer waits at the remaining facilities, he said. More women might consider unregulated, illegal abortions as an option, he added.

Providers at the Appleton and AMS clinics will probably need months to secure admitting privileges, if they can get them at all, Conley concluded.