On March 27, a three-judge panel on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a Texas law which requires an abortionist to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. A similar law was enacted by the Wisconsin legislature in 2013 and is currently not in effect due the law being enjoined by a district judge in Madison. A trial to determine the constitutionality of the Wisconsin law will take place on May 27.
The 5th Circuit decision matters because the admitting privileges provision is essential to protect a woman’s health. With no admitting privileges, a woman suffering complications from her abortion is placed in an ambulance and taken to a hospital where no one knows her, her medical records are not available, and she is left to explain why she is there. The Court recognized that the law is not a burden to women’s health, as argued by the challengers, but enhances her ability to receive excellent medical care when a complication arises.
The decision also matters because it will be difficult for the district court judge in Madison to dismiss a unanimous decision by a higher court. It couldn’t have come at a better time.