In response to recent legislative encroachments on women’s reproductive rights, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has filed a lawsuit to strike down a state law that makes “pill abortions” significantly less feasible. Wisconsin Act 217 demands that more stringent requirements must be met before a doctor can enable a woman to undergo a nonsurgical abortion. Doctors who fail to follow the sections of the Act will be subjected to Class I felony charges as well as substantial fines amounting to “not less than $1,000 nor more than $10,000.”
In effect since April 2012, Act 217 has been actively hindering Planned Parenthood’s administration of medicated abortions. As the provider of over two thirds of Wisconsin’s abortions, Planned Parenthood had to cease providing medicated abortions in order to protect their doctors from liability.
The suit filed alleges the law lacks clarity with regard to the steps a Physician must take before the abortion. The ambiguity is primarily present the statement, “The physician who is to perform or induce the abortion shall determine whether the woman’s consent is, in fact, voluntary.”
The state of Wisconsin already requires written consent before an abortion is performed, so this vague step, in addition to the requirement that a woman must visit the same doctor three times, only serves as an additional obstacle to women while obfuscating the role of the physician.
Planned Parenthood president and CEO Teri Huyck initiated the lawsuit with the goal of obtaining legal clarity and “to make sure decisions about pregnancy once again belong to a woman, her family and her faith, with the counsel of her doctor.”
Medicated abortion is performed by taking two drugs within the first 63 days of pregnancy. It is generally regarded to be a safer and more convenient procedure as women can undergo it from their home and at an earlier time in their pregnancy. It is not the same as emergency contraception which is preventative medication women take within five days of intercourse to prevent, not terminate pregnancy.
Doug Laube, the past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reinforced the necessity of non-surgical abortions describing them as a superior method for women with cervical and uterine conditions or victims of rape who are wary of an invasive technique. Laube called Act 217 “an intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship.”