The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a Texas law that requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and it could mean the end of a similar restriction here in Wisconsin. In a 5-3 decision on Monday, the high court found there is no “significant health-related problem” the law actually addresses, while it actually poses a “substantial obstacle” to women seeking legal abortions.
Similar arguments have been made about a Wisconsin law passed by majority Republicans in 2013. Similar to the Texas version, it also requires doctors performing abortions to be able to admit patients to a hospital near the clinic where the procedure is being performed. The provision has never been enforced though, after a federal judge put it on hold shortly after the governor signed the bill into law and later found it unconstitutional. That decision was upheld by a federal appeals court last November, which the state Department of Justice has asked the Supreme Court to review.
While the group was still analyzing the decision, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin executive director Tanya Atkinson said it appears “highly unlikely” that the U.S. Supreme Court would consider that appeal. “The Supreme Court clearly recognized that it’s medical professionals who should be the ones trusted to determine what the safest and best medical care is for their patients, and do that free from government interference,” she said. “This law does not do anything to increase patient safety, and all it does is create an undue burden.”
In a statement, state Attorney General Brad Schimel said Monday’s decision “is disappointing and undermines the respect due to policy makers.”
Schimel noted Wisconsin is still defending a similar law, and he expects a decision to come in the “near future.”
Monday’s ruling also sparked a flood of criticism from Wisconsin conservatives.
Governor Scott Walker blasted the majority of the court, saying in a statement that the decision “is a prime example of activist jurists imposing their will on the people. These issues should be left up to the democratic process. I believe in the sanctity of life and will always fight to protect it.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said the court “put women’s health and safety on the back burner for the profits of Planned Parenthood and abortion providers.”
Wisconsin Right to Life executive director Heather Weininger argued the ruling leaves the abortion industry “unchecked as mothers are subjected to subpar conditions, not only in Texas and Wisconsin.”