Federal judge temporarily blocks some of Wisconsin's new abortion requirements

A federal judge Monday temporarily blocked part of Wisconsin's new abortion law and scheduled a hearing for next week.

The law, which went into effect Monday, includes provisions similar to those in several other states that require women to undergo an ultrasound procedure before having an abortion and require doctors who provide abortion services to have admitting privileges at a hospital. 

Opponents, including Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, which is representing two doctors and an abortion clinic in challenging the law, said the measure was rushed into effect and that the provision affecting doctors would force two of the state's four clinics to close.

U.S. District Judge William Conley agreed that the law had been rushed onto the books, noting that it was proposed, passed, signed and enacted in just 34 days, a timeline he called "precipitous." 

Conley issued a temporary restraining order blocking the admitting privileges requirement and set a hearing on a full injunction for July 17.

The judge said he found that provision troublesome, writing that the evidence "strongly supports a finding that no medical purpose is served." It is up to state officials to prove that it safeguarded women's health, he wrote, which he said "does not bear even superficial scrutiny on the current record."

The requirement that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a hospital has been a key part of anti-abortion measures that have been passed in at least 15 other states. 

A similar measure is the focus of a bitter dispute in Texas, where the Legislature was called into a special session this month after a raucous filibuster delayed passage until after the adjournment deadline. Advocates on both sides were holding daylong protests as a Senate committee discussed the bill Monday in the state capital, Austin.


Public input limited as Texas anti-abortion bill comes back up for debate