A U.S. federal judge on Wednesday extended a temporary restraining order against a new Wisconsin law specifically intended to target abortion clinics. The ruling ensures the law will not take effect even though the original restraining order has now expired, giving U.S. District Judge William Conley more time to consider whether to issue a permanent injunction against it.
In addition to imposing harsh regulations on abortion clinics, the new law also mandates ultrasounds for women seeking abortions. Although the federal judge has temporarily blocked the provision regarding clinic regulations, Conley’s ruling does not prevent Wisconsin from enforcing the forced ultrasound measure. Still, it’s welcome news for two abortion clinics in Appleton and Milwaukee, which will now have more time before they are forced to comply with burdensome regulations that will almost certainly force them to close.
Wisconsin’s new abortion restrictions were rushed through the GOP-controlled legislature in just nine days without any support from Democratic lawmakers. Gov. Scott Walker (R) quietly signed the measure into law the day after July 4, in the midst of a holiday weekend. Women’s health advocates immediately filed suit to block the new restrictions.
The current legal proceedings require the state of Wisconsin to prove that it has a “legitimate governmental interest” in imposing additional regulations on abortion providers — specifically, requiring them to seek admitting privileges from local hospitals, something that’s not required of other types of medical professionals performing outpatient procedures. So far, it’s having trouble doing that. After looking over the state’s data intended to justify the need for admitting privileges, Conley said he had “trouble discerning what the advantage is.”
Medical professional agree. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a national group representing thousands of OB-GYNs across the country, opposes state-level laws that require abortion providers to follow this unnecessary rule.
Similar laws targeting abortion clinics have been blocked in a handful of other states, but they’re advancing in many others — including in Texas, where harsh new restrictions on abortion providers threaten to shut down 90 percent of the clinics in the entire state.