Some health care clinics in Madison, Milwaukee and Appleton will resume offering medication-induced abortions to women early in pregnancy after a Dane County judge’s April injunction clarified a recent state law that severely restricted the procedure.
“This is a significant step in the right direction recognizing that medical professionals should be trusted to determine the safest and best medical care for patients,” said Teri Huyck, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.
Planned Parenthood will resume offering the procedure at the three clinics after stopping them since April 2012.
Act 217, the state law also known as the Coercive and Web Cam Abortion Protection Act, requires doctors to determine through a private consultation whether a woman is being coerced into having an abortion. State law already required written consent before an abortion is performed.
The law now requires three trips to the same doctor for women seeking nonsurgical abortions. And it bans the use of consultation over the Internet to provide medication-induced abortions, a practice that is used elsewhere but not in Wisconsin. Doctors alleged to have violated the law can be charged with a felony.
The temporary injunction by Dane County Judge Richard Niess bars state officials from enforcing requirements that doctors be present at the time a woman takes the pill and determine through a private consultation whether a woman is being coerced into having an abortion.
The injunction comes as part of a lawsuit filed in December by Planned Parenthood in U.S. District Court in Madison charging that the new law is unconstitutionally vague and does not spell out exactly what a doctor must do to avoid criminal and civil penalties. The injunction will remain in place until final resolution of the case, Planned Parenthood said.
Medication-induced abortions, sometimes called “pill abortions,” will be available to women in the first nine weeks of pregnancy. Women will have to follow other state laws including having an exam and counseling session with a doctor and following a 24-hour waiting period.
Prior to suspending the procedure in April 2012, the clinics used it in roughly 45 percent of the pregnancy terminations they did, according to Planned Parenthood.