Federal Appeals Court Rules Wisconsin Abortion Law Unconstitutional
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that the hospital admitting requirement for Wisconsin abortion providers is unconstitutional.
The scathing 2-1 ruling states that this kind of targeted restriction on abortion providers is unconstitutional because it lacks any basis to suggest that it improves safety at clinics. In his decision, Judge Richard Posner (a Reagan appointee) dismantles the argument for implementing onerous anti-abortion laws under the guise of protecting women's health:
"Some of them proceed indirectly, seeking to discourage abortions by making it more difficult for women to obtain them. They may do this in the name of protecting the health of women who have abortions, yet as in this case the specific measures they support may do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion."
These laws, known broadly as targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP laws), have become common practice for conservative lawmakers looking to restrict abortion access without banning the procedure outright. Posner's opinion reinforces that the Wisconsin law "cannot be taken seriously as a measure to improve women's health," adding that the evidence of health benefits for women is "nonexistent."
A similar case will be heard by the Supreme Court next year. Whole Woman's Health v. Cole challenges two provisions of Texas' omnibus abortion law, known as HB2. The first provision, which has already forced more than half of the clinics in the state to close, requires providers to secure hospital admitting privileges. The second provision forces clinics to fulfill costly, medically unnecessary ambulatory surgical center (ASC) requirements. Should the Supreme Court rule that requiring hospital admitting privileges is legal, the 7th Circuit Court ruling would be overturned.
Media Resources: Jezebel 11/24/15, US Court of Appeals Decision 11/23/15; Feminist Newswire 11/13/15