News Abortion

Tennessee TRAP Law, Requiring Doctors to Have Hospital Admitting Privileges, Passes Senate

Robin Marty

All doctors performing abortions would need to have hospital privileges in order to provide the procedure.

Tennessee is one step closer to passing a new TRAP law, with bill that requires all doctors providing abortions to have hospital privileges passing the senate.

According to the Associated Press, “The legislation would require physicians performing abortions to hold hospital privileges in either the home or adjacent county of the woman seeking an abortion.”

The bill, which has already passed the House, will now head to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

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News Law and Policy

Court Permanently Blocks Alabama Admitting Privileges Law

Jessica Mason Pieklo

The law, if allowed to take effect, would have closed all but one clinic in the state, according to advocates.

A federal district court on Friday permanently struck down an Alabama law requiring doctors who provide abortions in the state to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital.

The law, HB 57, has been blocked since 2013 and would have forced all but one of the state’s licensed abortion clinics to close, advocates charge.

“[T]he impact of the law on the right of Alabama women to choose to have an abortion will simply be enormous,” Judge Myron Thompson wrote. “The staff-privileges requirement would make it impossible for a woman to obtain an abortion in much of the State. It is certain that thousands of women per year—approximately 40 percent of those seeking abortions in the State—would be unduly burdened.”

Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Alabama, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America sued to block the law shortly after it was passed. The organizations argued that the requirement, which mirrors other mandates passed by Republican-majority legislatures in states like Texas and Wisconsin, unnecessarily restricted abortion rights.

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Thompson temporary blocked the measure in 2014, but that decision applied to the specific plaintiffs challenging the law. Friday’s decision expands that ruling and applies to all women’s health centers in the state.

“This ruling protects the health of thousands of Alabama women by ensuring their access to safe and legal abortion,” Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement following the decision. “The court evaluated the medical evidence and agreed with the medical experts that this law provides no health benefit to any woman seeking abortion care.”

Thompson ruled that a significant number of pregnant people would be prevented from obtaining an abortion, and “others would be able to obtain abortions only after considerable delay, increasing the risks associated with the procedures.”

“[A] delayed procedure would likely become a denied procedure for many women,” Thompson wrote.

“[T]here is a significant risk that some women, faced with the inaccessibility or unavailability of an abortion provider, would pursue dangerous, unregulated abortions,” Thompson continued.

Friday’s decision comes as the GOP-dominated Alabama legislature considers multiple abortion restrictions, “including another bill, SB 205, designed to close abortion clinics and a constitutional amendment, HB 300, that would ban abortion altogether,” according to an ACLU statement.

The Supreme Court is also considering the constitutionality of a nearly identical Texas measure in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

Federal courts have also blocked admitting privileges requirements in pending lawsuits in Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Wisconsin.

News Law and Policy

Wisconsin Asks Supreme Court to Revive Admitting Privileges Law

Jessica Mason Pieklo

A petition filed with the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday seeks to revive a state law requiring abortion doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

The state of Wisconsin on Tuesday asked the Roberts Court to step in and reinstate a law designed to close abortion clinics in the state.

Onetime presidential hopeful and Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed Act 37 into law July 5, 2013, mandating abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals in place by July 8.

The restriction is nearly identical to a Texas provision under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

Almost immediately after Walker signed the measure into law, reproductive rights advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), sued, arguing the law violated constitutional equal protection guarantees by singling out abortion providers and their patients for restrictions not imposed on other medical procedures.

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A federal judge agreed and blocked the law from taking effect. Attorneys for the state of Wisconsin appealed, and in December 2013 the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that lower court decision.

“As in the Texas case before the Supreme Court, these laws are not about women’s health,” Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement following announcement of the appeal. “They are about restricting a woman’s access to constitutionally protected abortion care.”

Anti-choice supporters of admitting privileges requirements, like those at issue in both Wisconsin and Texas, claim that these restrictions support pregnant people’s health. However, federal courts have largely rejected that argument, finding that such restrictions unduly place barriers to care.

“In its ruling, the federal appeals court evaluated the medical evidence and agreed with the medical experts that Wisconsin’s law provides no health benefit to women seeking abortion care,” Chris Ahmuty, executive director of ACLU of Wisconsin, said in a statement. “The law intends to close clinics and prevent a woman who has decided to have an abortion from actually getting one.”

Advocates will have an opportunity to respond to Wisconsin’s petition before the Roberts Court decides whether it will take the case. Should the Court decide to take the case, it would likely be heard next term.