By Bryna Godar
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down Texas’ regulation of abortion clinics most likely means the end of a similar Wisconsin law.
The justices voted 5-3 Monday in favor of Texas clinics, holding that the regulations are medically unnecessary and unconstitutionally limit a woman’s right to an abortion. Texas’ 2013 law required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and forced clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery.
A similar law Wisconsin Republicans passed in 2013 regarding admitting privileges was struck down by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in November 2015.
Wisconsin attorneys petitioned the Supreme Court in March 2016 to reverse that decision. It’s unlikely the court will take up the case following its ruling on the nearly identical Texas law.
“The ruling today should have reverberations throughout the country,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project.
She said she expects the Supreme Court on Tuesday will resolve Wisconsin’s petition as well as a petition concerning a similar Mississippi law, which an appeals court also struck down. She said it would also probably affect a similar Alabama law that’s being challenged.
“Today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a Texas abortion law is disappointing and undermines the respect due to policy makers,” Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said in a statement.
Supporters of the laws say they are necessary to protect women’s health. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he’s disappointed and frustrated with the decision and will continue to support anti-abortion legislation and legislation protecting the health of mothers.
“Today’s decision from a divided court is a prime example of activist jurists imposing their will on the people,” Republican Gov. Scott Walker said in a statement. “These issues should be left up to the democratic process. I believe in the sanctity of life and will always fight to protect it.”
Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services, which filed the lawsuit the same day Walker signed Wisconsin’s law, contend the regulations amount to an unconstitutional restriction on abortion.
U.S. District Judge William Conley sided with them in March 2015, saying the law promotes no legitimate health interest. The 7th Circuit upheld that ruling in November.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin President and CEO Teri Huyck heralded Monday’s decision as a “victory for women” and said in a statement that the requirements in the law are a “dangerous intrusion on women’s access to safe and legal abortion.”
Wisconsin politicians and activist groups responded to the Supreme Court decision as expected Monday. Liberal legislators and pro-choice groups applauded the decision and pro-life groups and legislators decried it.
Wisconsin Right to Life Executive Director Heather Weininger said in a statement that the Supreme Court has decided “the abortion industry will continue to reign unchecked as mothers are subjected to subpar conditions.”
Dalven said politicians throughout the country are using “sham rationales” to pass laws to hinder the work of abortion clinics.
“This decision should send a loud signal to politicians that it’s long past time for this to stop,” she said.