Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin v. Van Hollen

SUMMARY

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed a lawsuit on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and several abortion providers challenging the admitting privileges provision of SB 206, which requires every physician who performs an abortion at a clinic to have staff privileges at a local hospital.

The Wisconsin Medical Society, the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the Wisconsin Public Health Association, the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, the Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards, and the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health opposes the requirement. In addition, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes admitting privileges requirements like the one at issue in Wisconsin because they are medically unjustified and have serious consequences for women’s health by depriving women of access to safe, high-quality abortion care.

According to the ACLU, Wisconsin’s admitting privileges requirement would force two clinics to shut down (Affiliated Medical Services in Milwaukee and Planned Parenthood’s health center in Appleton) and would force Planned Parenthood’s health center in Milwaukee to cut staff and severely curtail services.

SB 206 also contains a mandatory ultrasound provision—that provision is not being challenged in this lawsuit.

STATUS

On July 8, 2013, District Court Judge William Conley granted a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of the admitting privileges requirement. (See Planned Parenthood v. Van Hollen, 963 F. Supp. 2d 858 (D. Wis. 2013).)  On July 17, 2013, Judge Conley extended that temporary restraining order.

On August 2, 2013, Judge Conley blocked enforcement of the admitting privileges requirement pending resolution of the litigation. (See Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin v. Van Hollen, No. 13-cv-465-wmc, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110097 (W.D. Wis., August 2, 2013).)

On December 20, 2013, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Conley’s decision blocking the admitting privileges provision. (See Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin v. Van Hollen, No. 13-cv-465-wmc, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 25460 (7th Cir. Wis., Dec. 20, 2013).)

On March 20, 2015, the district court permanently blocked enforcement of the admitting privileges requirement. Judge William Conley rejected each defense offered by Wisconsin’s attorney general in defense of SB 206, finding that the state had “failed to meet its burden of demonstrating through credible evidence a link between the admitting privileges requirement and a legitimate health interest,” and that “the only reasonable conclusion is that the legislation was motivated by an improper purpose, namely to restrict the availability of abortion services in Wisconsin.” (See Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin v. Van Hollen, No. 13-cv-465-wmc, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35389 (W.D. Wis., March 20, 2015).)

KEY DOCUMENTS