After Texas Ruling, Supreme Court Refuses Other Abortion Cases
By Molly Beck
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal from Wisconsin of a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the state's law placing restrictions on abortion providers. But state lawmakers pledged new abortion-related bills during the next legislative session.
The justices' decision to refuse to hear appeals from Wisconsin and Mississippi came a day after the nation's highest court struck down a Texas law with similar restrictions -- requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals.
State Attorney General Brad Schimel said the decision was "not surprising" given the court's Monday ruling. Schimel said the earlier ruling from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals striking down Wisconsin's admitting privileges law stands.
Schimel, who filed an amicus brief in the Texas case in support of the restrictions, said Monday's ruling "is disappointing and undermines the respect due to policymakers."
Walker signed Wisconsin's law on July 5, 2013, and required providers to have privileges in place three days later. Privileges were to be at hospitals within 30 miles of clinics.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and Affiliated Medical Services sued the state, arguing that the requirement would force the shutdown of the AMS clinic in Milwaukee because its doctors could not get admitting privileges. That amounted to restricting access to abortions, they argued.
"We are thrilled that Wisconsin's unconstitutional admitting privileges law has been permanently blocked," said Tanya Atkinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin. "It was an attempt to put obstacles in the way of women seeking safe, legal abortion care. We are pleased the Supreme Court recognized the true intention behind this law."
But the decision hasn't deterred anti-abortion advocates and like-minded lawmakers in Wisconsin.
After the court's decision was released, Walker on Tuesday tweeted, "We're disappointed an activist court overturned common sense standards on abortion providers, (and) we will cont(inue) to protect sanctity of life."
Heather Weininger, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life, said despite the court's rejection of the state's appeal, the anti-abortion group remains "undeterred in our efforts to protect women and unborn children from the abortion industry."
"We will continue to empower women with hope and the information they need before making the life-and-death decision of abortion," she said in a statement.
Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, said he plans to propose a bill next legislative session requiring doctors to inform patients of the ability to reverse medication-induced abortions. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists urged its members in 2015 to pressure Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to veto a similar bill on the grounds that the medical advice is unscientific and could be dangerous.
And Rep. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere, who authored the bill that included the abortion restrictions that Tuesday's decision invalidated, said he plans to introduce again legislation that bans research using fetal tissue, which was unsuccessful last Legislative session.
Myranda Tanck, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said in an email that Fitzgerald fully expects to see bills related to abortion next legislative session.
Wisconsin currently requires that women wait 24 hours before having an abortion, and that women undergo an ultrasound prior to an abortion. The law also bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
(c)2016 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)