Abortion Law in Wisconsin Blocked by Federal Judge

( [email protected] ) Aug 07, 2013 08:01 AM EDT

A federal judge has extended a hold on part of a new Wisconsin law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

An injunction has been issued that blocks the mandate for another four months, according to The New York Times.

Judge William M. Conley of Federal District Court issued the order, which stems from a lawsuit that Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services filed in July. The organizations say the law would force a Planned Parenthood clinic in Appleton and an Affiliated Medical Services clinic in Milwaukee to close because abortion providers at both facilities lacked admitting privileges, The New York Times reported.

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 the order and considering their “next step,” according to the Associated Press. 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, according to the AP.

Department of Justice attorneys defending the law have counterargued the “admission to hospitals” 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 by saying the application process can take months, according to the AP. Providers at the Appleton and AMS clinics will probably need months to secure admitting privileges, if they can get them at all, U.S. District Judge William Conley concluded.

Sam Guzman, communications director at Pro-Life Wisconsin, said this bill was not their preferred bill. Guzman said Pro-Life Wisconsin is not in favor of it because it has exceptions – and they are a “no-exceptions organization.” Guzman said it’s common sense that doctors performing these procedures should have access to admitting women into hospitals. He emphasized they supported the ultrasound requirement and admitting privileges but did not support exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.

Guzman said they’re not part of any legal action.

“Every human life is valuable regardless of the circumstances of his or her conception,” Guzman said. “We believe it’s wrong to make a values judgment that just because this baby was conceived in rape it could or should be aborted.”

Guzman emphazied the importance of every mother seeing and hearing her baby’s heartbeat – especially if they’re considering an abortion.

“It’s such a difficult circumstance. You can’t heal violence with violence,” Guzman said. “With abortion you’re creating a new victim. Before there was one and now there’s two.”