The Indiana Law Blog posted an entry on an AP article on a 7th Circuit Oral Argument over a Wisconsin law that requires doctors to have admission privileges at a hospital before the doctor is allowed to perform an abortion. Audio of the argument is here (mp3). You can’t always tell what a judge really thinks from the questions he or she asks, but in this case, the judges, Hamilton and Posner in particular, did not seem to be buying the Wisconsin Deputy Attorney General’s argument that the hospital admitting privilege requirements specifically for abortion was motivated by a concern for women’s medical well being.
At times appearing exasperated, Posner repeatedly interrupted Lennington, asking why lawmakers — if it’s true they saw the law as primarily a public health measure and not an anti-abortion bill — focused on abortion clinics and not other outpatient clinics, such as those performing laparoscopic surgeries.
“Why did they start with abortion clinics? Because it begins with the letter ‘A’?” Posner asked.
Lennington answered, “I don’t have a conjecture (about why).” Later, in response to similar questions, Lennington said it was the prerogative of legislators to act as they did.
Posner also cited figures that just .3 percent of abortions have medical complications. Asked if there were records of women dying in Wisconsin after abortions, Lennington said he didn’t know.
At that point, Posner said about the law, “It doesn’t sound reasonable. It sounds irrational.”
Having been on the receiving end of Judge Posner’s questioning once upon a time and having once been employed to do the bidding of a state legislature regardless of my personal opinions, I definitely sympathize with the deputy attorney general in this case.
The Indiana Law Blog noted the similarity between the challenged Wisconsin law and the admitting privilege requirements of IC 16-34-2-4.5 and also referenced this Wisconsin case as potentially having an impact on the Southern District of Indiana’s injunction on enforcement of the new law requiring Planned Parenthood’s facility in Lafayette which provides medication abortions to meet the same facility requirements as those providing surgical abortions.