New anti-abortion law could lead to criminal charges for doctors

Posted on April 20, 2012, April 20, 2012


Planned Parenthood suspends nonsurgical abortions

A new Wisconsin law that could lead to criminal charges for doctors who perform abortions is prompting Planned Parenthood to suspend nonsurgical abortions.

RU-486, an artificial steroid that helps terminate pregnancy, will no longer be an option for Wisconsin women looking to terminate their pregnancies in the first nine weeks through Planned Parenthood.

Supporters of the new Act 217 said it helps put protections in place to help women make sound decisions, but opponents said it limits women’s reproductive health care options.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin President and CEO Teri Huyck used a video message to announce the decision to suspend the use of the pill-induced abortion.

“We all lose when we play politics with women’s health,” Huyck said. “Act 217 will do nothing to better inform women and reduce the incidence of unintended pregnancies and abortions. All it will do is create obstacles for a safe and legal health care option for women seeking early pregnancy termination.”

About 25 percent of women who terminate pregnancies in Wisconsin use this procedure.

Lisa Subeck, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, said the new law is an attack on women.

“It’s an example of politicians getting involved in this doctor-patient relationship,” Subeck said. “Instead of being able to make decisions based on what the medical community and medical professionals recommend, we see government getting involved and intruding on that relationship and trying to set the standards.”

Under the new law, a patient is required to visit the same clinic and doctor three times to prove she’s making the choice on her own, without being coerced to terminate her pregnancy.

Julaine Appling, director of Wisconsin Family Action, supports the new law.

“I’m a woman. I look at these laws and I don’t sense any war declared on me. I sense protection. I sense an appropriate, prudent, reasonable measure being taken,” Appling said.

Doctors who fail to follow the law could face felony criminal charges, Appling said.

“We’re extremely pleased that for whatever period of time, whether it’s a month or forever, that Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin will not be dispensing RU-486 as a means for a chemical abortion. One of the benefits of this bill is they took that action,” Appling said.

Even though Act 217 is now a law, both sides said the fight is not over.

“Certainly we’ll be working to repeal these laws,” Subeck said. “Act 217 is a law that adds new restrictions for abortion providers and actually creates felony penalties for doctors who don’t meet these impossible standards of this incredibly vague law.”

“Any day we’re having fewer abortions in this state, it’s a good day. So, we’re rejoicing that they’ve decided to do this based on the new law,” Appling said. “But we’re cautiously optimistic.”

Walker signed the bill into law two weeks ago and it went into effect April 20.

The law does not make any changes to surgical abortions.

Planned Parenthood will continue to provide surgical abortions at clinics in Madison, Milwaukee and Appleton, Huyck said in a statement.

Posted in: Wisconsin