Debate continues even after abortion law halted by judge

MADISON (WITI) -- Four Wisconsin abortion clinics say the recently signed abortion law would have effectively closed at least two of the clinics -- making it impossible to get an abortion north of Madison. The law is frozen temporarily, as the debate heats up.

Even in a rainstorm Tuesday, July 9th, Dan Miller waged a silent protest outside a Milwaukee abortion clinic. He is the coordinator for the pro-life organization "40 Days for Life."

"We come out here most everyday to uphold that sanctity and dignity -- to remind moms and dads that the baby they're carrying in that womb has a soul and has purpose," Miller said.

Miller says his group is disappointed after the defeat in federal court of a new Wisconsin law that restricts abortions.

Act 37 requires doctors to have admitting privileges "in a hospital with 30 miles" of an abortion clinic.

The law also requires the pregnant woman to "obtain an ultrasound."

Chief U.S. District Judge William Conley blocked enforcement of Act 37 -- issuing a temporary restraining order after a hearing on a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and Affiliated Medical Services.

Those organizations argued the law would unconstitutionally restrict the availability of abortions, and that the law unconstitutionally treats abortion doctors differently from those who perform other procedures.

"This is the only outpatient procedure in the state of Wisconsin requiring this type of stipulation," Linda Neff with Planned Parenthood said.

In his ruling, Judge Conley said: "There is a troubling lack of justification for the hospital admitting privileges requirement. Moreover, the record to date strongly supports a finding that no medical purpose is served by this requirement." 

"It is just another tactic to create a barrier for women to access safe and legal abortions," Neff said.

Neff says the restraining order is a first step in a long journey.

"We are concerned that things are moving so quickly and there's not an opportunity for civil discourse," Neff said.

"It's important because there have been nine ambulances here in the past 33 months. It's a very dangerous place.  Abortion is a very dangerous procedure. It's not like getting a tooth pulled," Miller said.

There were 30 appointments Tuesday at Affiliated Medical Services in Milwaukee.

"We know we're making a difference out here just by our presence," Miller said.

Act 37 was signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker in a private ceremony on the Fourth of July. It also contained a provision requiring women to get an ultrasound before an abortion, but Judge Conley's 19-page ruling did not address that part of Act 37. It will likely come up when the temporary restraining order is reviewed on July 18th.