“This victory ensures that women in Wisconsin can make their own private health care decisions without interference from politicians,” says Planned Parenthood
Late today, a federal district court ruled in favor of Wisconsin women and concluded that a state law requiring doctors providing abortion obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals has no basis in medicine and would impose an undue burden “on women’s health outcomes due to restricted access to abortions in Wisconsin.” Had it gone into effect, this dangerous law would have immediately forced one of the four health centers in Wisconsin that provides abortions to stop doing so.
Judge Conley rejected the state’s medical evidence as unsound and held that “the only reasonable conclusion is that the legislation was motivated by an improper purpose, namely to restrict the availability of abortion services in Wisconsin.” Judge Conley also said this law is “a solution in search of a problem, unless that problem is access to abortion itself.”
“We all want to protect patient safety—this law doesn’t do that, as the court recognized,” said Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin CEO, Teri Huyck. “Politicians passed this law in order to make it extremely difficult for women in Wisconsin to get safe and legal abortions, plain and simple.”
The Wisconsin Medical Society, the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose laws requiring doctors who provide abortions to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals because they harm women and interfere in the doctor-patient relationship. Data, including from the CDC, shows that abortion has over a 99 percent safety record. Moreover, for patients’ safety, the plaintiffs in this case already have plans in place in case of an emergency. These laws put women at risk because they force quality health care providers to close.
According to the Wisconsin Medical Society’s brief filed last year with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the admitting privileges requirement “represents a direct infringement on the patient-physician relationship. By injecting non-evolving and ineffective government mandates into medical science, the Wisconsin legislature will harm the evolution of potentially beneficial standards while doing nothing to ensure patient safety.”
“Today’s ruling is a victory for the women of Wisconsin who can continue to access safe, legal abortion without government interference. At Planned Parenthood, we work every day to make sure women receive the high quality health care they need in a safe, respectful environment- including abortion,” commented Dr. Kathy King, Medical Director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. “Ensuring the health and safety of our patients is central to our mission and fundamental to every person who works at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.”
In the exceedingly rare event that a complication after an abortion requires hospital-based care, a woman is provided emergency care at a hospital, and admitting privileges at that hospital have no impact on a woman’s ability to receive high-quality, timely care.
“As a leading provider of women’s health care in Wisconsin for almost 80 years, patient safety is our number one concern. We will continue to provide women with the quality health care services they need and deserve,” Huyck concluded.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and another women’s health care provider, Affiliated Medical Services, were represented by attorneys from Cullen Weston Pines & Bach, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Similar admitting privileges restrictions have passed in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma—and if all these laws take effect, abortion access in those states could be severely curtailed or virtually eliminated overnight, as it was when a similar law went into effect in Texas. During the federal trial in Wisconsin, an independent, court-appointed medical expert recently said of laws like this, “I think it would be an unacceptable experiment to decrease [access to] abortion and see if people would die... It’s not acceptable. It’s not ethical... [I]f we restrict legal abortion... people will resort to illegal abortions.”
The American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose these restrictions, writing that: “There is no medical basis to require abortion providers to have local hospital admitting privileges. Emergency room physicians, hospital-based physicians, and on-call specialists already provide prompt and effective treatment to all patients with urgent medical needs, including women with abortion-related complications… Unless there is a substantial public health justification, legislators should not interfere with patient care, medical decisions, and the patient-physician relationship.”
Planned Parenthood insists on the highest standards of patient care and has rigorous safety guidelines in place, informed by the most trusted medical knowledge, as well as professional and scientific organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.