Doctors Seek Admitting Privileges to Prove Problem with Wisconsin Abortion Law

But the doctors' advisers say they are applying more to prove that they cannot obtain the privileges than to actually secure them.
July 31, 2013

Amid uncertainty over when — or if — Wisconsin's new regulation of abortion clinics will go into effect, seven doctors who perform the procedure are filing applications for hospital admitting privileges.

It would appear that they are trying to meet the regulation's central requirement: that they have privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their clinics. But the doctors' advisers say they are applying more to prove that they cannot obtain the privileges than to actually secure them.

"Going through the process of trying to obtain as many privileges as we can helps prove our case that they're unrelated to the work that we do," said Nicole Safar, the policy director at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. Planned Parenthood and two doctors it employs are plaintiffs in a legal challenge to the new law.

Safar said she is helping four of her organization's doctors explore privilege-granting procedures at two dozen hospitals near their Milwaukee and Appleton clinics.

The Affiliated Medical Services abortion clinic in Milwaukee is the other plaintiff in the legal challenge. Larry Dupuis, who is representing Affiliated in court and serves as the legal services director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, said the three doctors who perform the procedure at Affiliated are also applying for privileges.

Supporters of the law argue that the doctors should have already had privileges to ensure their patients' well-being and accuse them of providing substandard care.

The doctors are sure that hospitals' religious affiliations and policies such as patient admission quotas and nearby residency make it almost certain that they will not be granted privileges, attorneys challenging the law said.

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