November 27, 2014

Drug-induced abortion law challenged in federal court

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is challenging a state law that the organization claims makes medication-induced abortions almost impossible to perform in the state. The law enacted earlier this year puts strict regulations on using medications to terminate a pregnancy, requiring doctors and patients to hold multiple consultations and a physical examination to take place before drugs can be dispensed. Doctors can face criminal or civil prosecution if they fail to do so.

A federal lawsuit filed this week in US District Court in Madison calls for the law to be overturned, arguing it fails to provide clear direction to doctors on how to comply with the new requirements. The group is asking the court to end the unconstitutional provisions that rob women of a choice to make their own complex and personal medical decisions.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin CEO Teri Huyck says the requirements are too vague and have left many doctors uncertain about how they can legally administer the drugs. She says that uncertainty has forced their clinics to no longer offer the option.

Almost 45-percent of the abortions performed by Planned Parenthood in 2011 were medication induced. With those no longer available, Huyck says women must now undergo a more invasive surgical option instead.

Wisconsin Right to Life, one of the chief advocates of the bill, said it is confident the law is clear in its intent and will be upheld. The measure was aimed at preventing so-called “web cam” abortions, in which a doctor consults with a patient from a remote location. At the time of its passage, the practice was not being used in any of Planned Parenthood’s Wisconsin clinics.

A spokesman for the state Department of Justice says the agency is reviewing the lawsuit.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:14)