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Friday, November 27, 2015

Ind. Courts - More on: 7th Circuit rules on State of Wisconsin abortion admitting privileges law

Supplementing this ILB post from Nov. 23rd, see this Slate article by Dahlia Lithwick, subheaded: "These are the greatest quotes from a ruling that slams the state for feigning an interest in women’s health." Some quotes:

The Wisconsin law was passed on Friday, July 5, 2013 and required compliance by the following Monday, July 8—in effect, affording doctors performing abortions one weekend to obtain admitting privileges at hospitals within a 30-mile radius. Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services filed suit, claiming that the new rule would force Affiliated’s clinic in Milwaukee to shut down altogether because doctors couldn’t get admitting privileges and that the burden on the remaining clinics would be extreme. An injunction kept the law from going into effect, and this past March, after a trial, U.S. District Judge William Conley found the law unconstitutional, writing that the law served no legitimate health interest. The state appealed, arguing that the statute protects the health of women who experience complications from an abortion. This case was argued at the court of appeals in October. Judge Daniel Manion was the lone dissenter, finding that the law genuinely protects women’s health and doesn’t amount to an undue constitutional burden.

As Posner, writing for himself and Judge David Hamilton, points out in this week’s opinion, the two-day limit on getting privileges was telling: “There was no way an abortion doctor, or any other type of doctor for that matter, could obtain admitting privileges so quickly, and there wouldn’t have been a way even if the two days hadn’t been weekend days. As the district court found, it takes a minimum of one to three months to obtain admitting privileges and often much longer.” Posner goes on to note that the practical effects on the state’s four clinics would have been devastating: Two of the state’s four abortion clinics would have shut down, and the third would have halved its capacity.

Posner then contends that the onerous two-day deadline to obtain admitting privileges suggests the state’s true motive, which “is difficult to explain save as a method of preventing abortions that women have a constitutional right to obtain. The state tells us that ‘there is no evidence the [Wisconsin] Legislature knew AMS physicians would be unable to comply with the Act.’ That insults the legislators’ intelligence. How could they have thought that an abortion doctor, or any doctor for that matter, could obtain admitting privileges in so short a time as allowed?”

Gotta love this:
Finally, because he can, Posner pretty much just pantses the judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and others who argue that the real intent of this admitting privileges law is to protect women...
The Slate article also links to this useful survey of state policies prepared by the Guttmacher Institute.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 27, 2015 05:15 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions