US District Court Judge William Conley has extended the temporary restraining order he issued after Scott Walker privately signed the fast-pass anti-abortion measures into law during the July 4th holiday weekend. Walkers Not So Merry Men rammed several bills through our State Legislature so fast it was hard to keep up with them (9 days from introduction to passage) in order to avoid the publicity and protests that similar legislation has caused in other states.
Judge Conleys original TRO expired today, the date of the first hearing on the lawsuit filed jointly by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.
At issue is the requirement that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. Due to the safety of the procedures, admissions following abortion are very rare which disqualifies abortion providers from gaining admitting privileges since hospitals require a minimum number of admissions per year from their doctors.
U.S. District Judge William Conley continued the temporary block on the law for another two weeks, saying he would decide by then whether to put a months-long hold on the measure. He scheduled a Nov. 25 trial on whether the law is constitutional.
As I diaried earlier, Judge Conleys original 19 page decision was brutal towards the new law, a very hopeful sign.
Less Clinics Now
Because of previous budget cuts promoted by Republican women-haters, Wisconsin has far fewer womens clinics today than before the mega-money fueled Red Tide Elections of 2010 swept Republicans into state house majorities in many states. Access to birth control and womens health care is far less available to women without insurance or the ability to self-fund care.
Today only 4 clinics provide abortion services; 1 in Appleton in the eastern central part of the state, 1 in Madison in the south central portion of the state, and 2 in Milwaukee in the south eastern part of the state. The result is that women in northern and western Wisconsin face a drive of several hours to access those services. The new anti-abortion laws would mandate the closure of the Appleton Clinic and Affiliated Medical Services in Milwaukee, the only clinic that provides abortion services after 19 weeks. The other Milwaukee Clinic, Planned Parenthood, would be forced to reduce their procedures by 50%.
Ultrasounds/Vaginal Probe Law
The new law mandating medically unnecessary ultrasounds prior to an abortion remains unchallenged at this time. Right now ultrasounds and vaginal probes are required of all women seeking abortion and the law mandates that the viewing screen be placed in front of the women and that the features of the fetus are to be pointed out and described by the person performing the ultrasound.
This opens the door for so-called "pro-life" groups to open facilities promising free ultrasounds for women considering pregnancy termination. They will then have the opportunity to propagandize women using the service to avoid the cost of the now mandatory ultrasound and talk her out of having an abortion.
For now the emphasis is on keeping the 4 remaining clinics open. Hopefully, the mandatory ultrasound will be challenged in the future.
Republicans Still Chipping Away at Our Rights
Another piece of bad legislation is making its way through the state house which would give a fetus the same rights as a living, breathing human being. This would prohibit all abortion and several forms of birth control.
Opposed even by some Republicans, this "fetal rights" bill faces a rocky road towards passage, but demonstrates that the women-haters will stop at nothing to keep women in line by controlling our lady parts.
Update: Walker Weighs In Edition:
Today, Scott Walker chimed in on Judge Conleys decision.
Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday he wasn't disappointed by a federal judge's decision to extend a hold on a law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges.Uhhh, no. The Wisconsin DOJ is defending it because their dear leader is another die-hard, radical Republican with plenty of political ambition of his own.
"This is common practice," Walker said. "I don't know what the exact number is but it seems like one out of every 10 laws gets temporarily held up in a court. I don't know if that's the exact number but it seems like it. And so, eventually it will work its way through the court system and I'm confident just like every other bill ultimately the law will be upheld."
Walker said the law is constitutional.
"That's why the Department of Justice is defending it," he said.
The only surprise here is that the Governor was actually IN the state and not out giving Tea Party speeches or raising money which are his normal activities.