State Files Cert Petition in Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin v. Schimel Case

The state of Wisconsin filed a petition today asking the US Supreme Court to review the 7th Circuit federal appeals court’s decision to invalidate a law that would have required doctors who perform abortions to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital -- one of the restrictions currently under consideration in the Texas abortion case before the Supreme Court, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

If implemented, the law would threaten one of only four remaining Wisconsin abortion providers with closure and severely curtail access at one of the others.

“As in the Texas case before the Supreme Court, these laws are not about women’s health. They are about restricting a woman’s access to constitutionally protected abortion care,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project.

Hospitals typically require doctors to admit a minimum number of patients to have admitting privileges. Because abortion is an extraordinarily safe procedure that very rarely requires hospital admission, doctors who specialize in abortion care often cannot obtain admitting privileges.

 “In its ruling, the federal appeals court evaluated the medical evidence and agreed with the medical experts that Wisconsin’s law provides no health benefit to women seeking abortion care and instead is intended to close clinics and prevent a woman who has decided to have an abortion from actually getting one” said Chris Ahmuty, executive director of ACLU of Wisconsin.

Though opponents of abortion care claim that these restrictions support women’s health, courts have found the opposite: that such barriers obstruct and delay care to women, forcing them to access care weeks later in pregnancy, which increases the risks involved.

Research evaluating the effect of similar measures in Texas has found clinic closures resulted in significant burdens for women, including delay, increased travel distances, high out-of-pocket costs, overnight stays, and decreased access to medication abortion.

“Laws restricting abortion hurt women — as we’ve seen in states like Texas, where restrictions are already forcing women to end pregnancies on their own, without medical assistance. This is what we all feared would happen, and we're deeply concerned that we'll see this more and more if the Supreme Court does not intervene,” said Cecile Richards, president, Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

While many are watching closely for developments in the Supreme Court case from Texas, if the court grants certiorari to the State of Wisconsin it could portend a prolonged battle over the embroiled abortion restrictions.

This case, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin v. Van Hollen was brought by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the ACLU, and the ACLU of Wisconsin on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and Affiliated Medical Services.