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Seventh Circuit affirms temporary stay of admitting privileges requirement

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit filed a decision on December 20, 2013, in Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, Inc. v. Van Hollen, et al., affirming a temporary injunction staying a requirement that physicians performing abortions in Wisconsin must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where an abortion is performed.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin challenging the constitutionality of Section 1 of 2013 Wisconsin Act 37, the admitting privileges requirement. On August 2, 2013, the Honorable William M. Conley, District Court Judge, issued a temporary injunction staying the admitting privileges requirement pending a full trial on the requirement’s constitutionality. The state of Wisconsin appealed that order, but the Seventh Circuit ordered that the admitting privileges requirement remain on hold pending the full trial in the District Court. A copy of the Seventh Circuit’s decision is here.

The Wisconsin Medical Society filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in the Seventh Circuit along with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, arguing that the admitting privileges requirement is an unjustified invasion of the patient-physician relationship. The brief asserted that the admitting privileges requirement “represents a direct infringement on the patient-physician relationship. By injecting non-evolving and ineffective government mandates into medical science, the Wisconsin legislature will harm the evolution of potentially beneficial standards while doing nothing to ensure patient safety.” The amicus brief was specifically cited in the Seventh Circuit’s opinion affirming the stay. A copy of the brief is on the Society’s website.*

The Society opposed the legislation (2013 Assembly Bill 227) because the ability to provide high quality care should not be arbitrarily tied to geographic proximity to certain hospitals. The Society’s testimony also is online.

The case will return to the District Court for continuation of the case for a full determination of the constitutionality of the admitting privileges requirement. While the admitting privileges portion of Act 37 remains stayed, its other provisions, including a requirement that women seeking an abortion must first obtain an ultrasound and a description of the ultrasound, are still in effect.

*(Member log-in is required to access amicus briefs. Click here to access the log-in page. Additional member log-in information is here.)