MILWAUKEE -- Wisconsin's largest provider of abortions, Planned Parenthood, is cutting the medication-based option. This, after a new state law threatens doctors with thousands of dollars in fines and jail time if they don't follow a legislative-based procedure. The law took effect Friday, April 20th, and supporters say this law protects women, while opponents argue it restricts a woman's rights.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin no longer offers drug-based abortions, in response to Act 217 which criminalizes doctors not following newly established abortion procedures. "Given the widespread opposition by the established medical community, it's clear that this bill was passed for political reasons," Teri Huyck with Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin said. "I think it's a phony interpretation and I do believe that they're trying to feed into this ridiculous war on women concept that's floating around the country and around the state right now," Barbara Lyons with Wisconsin Right to Life said.
The law forces doctors to examine a woman in person, witness the drugs being taken and have patients return for a follow-up exam -- all things Planned Parenthood says were already being done without the threat of prison time or government oversight.
Lyons argues by making it law, it will prevent the procedure from taking place through a web cam - something inherently riskier. Opponents say they're fighting fiction. "The FDA that 14 American women have died during the RU486 (abortion pill) procedure and that there are 2200 adverse incidents. If you're going to do this over a web cam and not give the patient an in person exam then I think that is something very serious that should be penalized appropriately," Lyons said.
RU486, the abortion pill, is a non-surgical way to end a pregnancy less than nine weeks along.
According to act 217 doctors face ten-thousand dollars in fines or three-and-a-half years in prison for violating certain provisions. Planned Parenthood believes just how a doctor ends up in violation is too vague.
"Doctors were afraid of getting felonies and insurance companies said they wouldn't be able to cover that. So the end result is, is that they destroyed a vital piece of a very personal decision for women," State Senator Chris Larson (D - Milwaukee) said.
According to Planned Parenthood, the so called abortion pill accounts for more than one in four of their abortion procedures in Wisconsin. A spokesperson for the organization says they hope to offer the service again after the law has been clarified.