Women seeking early abortions in Wisconsin may soon regain that option, as Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has filed suit to overturn Act 217, a bill that has forced doctors to stop providing medication abortions in the state.
“The very personal opinion of how to terminate a pregnancy is taken away from women,” explained Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin President and CEO Teri Huyck on a conference call with reporters. “We are in court to make sure that once again pregnancy decisions reside with the woman her family and her faith, with the counsel of her doctor.”
According to Susan Crawford, Senior Associate, Cullen, Weston, Pines and Bach, the statutes are so vague and do not provide clear guidance for the doctors on how to comply with the new rules, thereby violating due process protections. The legal challenge will allow Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin to gain legislative clarity and certainty for doctors. If that is not possible, the courts could rule the statute too vague to be enforced.
It was this lack of guidance that also caused the reproductive health organization to wait so many months before filing suit.
“Planned Parenthood wanted to comply. They did not take the decision to litigate lightly.” said Crawford. “The process takes time, it is a huge use of resources. It was not brought about lightly and only after great consideration.”
Nicole Safar, Director of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, reiterated the strong opposition to Act 217 from the Wisconsin medical community. “This bill was only supported by special interest groups who do not provide medical care and only have one goal—to end abortion,” said Safar.
Dr. Doug Laube, Past President, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who has nearly 30 years of experience in the field, agreed. He called the statutes in Act 217 “legislative medicine generated by political ideology.” Enforcement of the Act means politicians, not doctors and patients, are making medical decisions for women who would best be served by medication rather than surgical abortion procedures. Women who want early abortions, those with cervical or uterine complications, and women who have been victims of sexual abuse prefer medication abortion would be forced to forgo a medically-proven intervention that can be carried out in the privacy of their own home.
“When the legislature dictates medicine the quality of care suffers,” said Laube.
RH RealityCheck Senior Legal Analyst Jessica Mason Pieklo contributed to this report