A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order on Monday blocking a Wisconsin law that bans doctors who lack admitting privileges to hospitals from performing abortions.
"There is a troubling lack of justification for the hospital admitting privileges requirement,” U.S. District Judge William Conley said in his ruling. He added that any restriction of abortion rights had to be aimed at preserving a woman’s health.
The law was signed by Gov. Scott Walker on Friday and was enacted on Monday followed by a petition against it filed by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and Affiliated Medical Services.
The lawsuit claims that the ban would unconstitutionally restrict the availability of abortions within the state, violate the due process guarantee and treat doctors who perform abortions differently than those who do not.
Opponents also warned that women with appointments for an abortion in upcoming weeks would have to cancel if the ban was lifted. The Planned Parenthood clinic in Appleton would be closed under the provision, requiring women to drive further South to Milwaukee for an abortion – an extra two hour drive.
Assistant Attorney General Dan Lennington argued the extra drive would not be a burden for women, though Conley quickly dismissed him.
"You haven't driven those roads if you don't think it's a burden," Conley said.
In his ruling, Conley said the state would be unlikely to meet its burden of proof, adding that the current system already efficiently handles the low percentage of women seeking abortions with complications.
"This ruling is a step in the right direction for the women of Wisconsin who can now continue to make their own personal, private health care decisions,” said Terry Huyck, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, in a statement.
The act’s requirement for a woman to receive an ultrasound before an abortion and a provision that allows fathers or grandparents to sue for an emotional distress even after written consent for an abortion is not being challenged.