Another Court Victory for Women’s Health: Appeals Court Protects Access to Safe and Legal Abortion in Wisconsin

MADISON, WI—(ENEWSPF)—December 20, 2013. Marking an important victory for Wisconsin women, a federal appeals court today affirmed a lower court decision blocking a Wisconsin law that would drastically restrict access to safe and legal abortion in the state if allowed to take effect. The law — which passed in spite of the opposition of Wisconsin’s medical leaders, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Wisconsin Medical Society — imposes a requirement that doctors who provide abortion obtain hospital admitting privileges.  As the evidence before the court demonstrated, if allowed to take effect the law would end the availability of abortion services at two of the four remaining health centers providing abortion in Wisconsin and would significantly reduce the availability of abortion services in the two remaining Planned Parenthood health centers in Milwaukee and Madison.

Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Today’s ruling marks a major victory for Wisconsin women and sends a message to lawmakers across the country:  it is unconstitutional for politicians to pass laws under a false guise of women’s safety in order to interfere in a woman’s personal medical decisions.

“Far from protecting women’s health, the effect of this law if it took effect would be to force an abortion later in pregnancy or cut off access to safe and legal abortion.   As the nation’s leading women’s health care provider and advocate, Planned Parenthood knows firsthand how dangerous these laws are for women, and that’s why we’re fighting them in state legislatures and courts across the country.

“But as we look ahead to a new year, it’s clear that it is time for a change — women in states like Wisconsin need leaders who value their health and well-being.”

In its opinion issued today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled that Planned Parenthood is likely to succeed on its claim that the law would cut off women’s access to safe and legal abortion without advancing any medical interest.  When entering the preliminary injunction on August 2, Judge William Conley wrote “there will almost certainly be irreparable harm to those women” who need access to a safe and legal abortion but may face the “undue burden” for a variety of reasons.

Physicians who provide safe and legal abortion at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin’s health centers may be unable to obtain hospital privileges for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with their quality or credentials, including the religious affiliation of the hospitals and the bylaws of local hospitals. Given the immediate effect of the Wisconsin law when signed, the physicians did not even have time to attempt to obtain privileges.

Wisconsin’s law is opposed by the Wisconsin Medical Society, the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the Wisconsin Public Health Association, the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, the Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards, and the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health.

Similar laws have been enjoined by state and federal courts in Alabama, Mississippi and North Dakota.  A Texas law recently took effect, and as a result approximately one-third of the state’s licensed health centers that were providing abortion were forced to stop providing that care immediately.


Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.