Nov 24, 2015

Walker, GOP's Anti-Choice Law Ruled Unconstitutional

Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican Party legislators fooled many Wisconsin citizens with their 2013 Act 37 to stop a woman's choice to an abortion, but the federal judges in the Seventh Circuit ridiculed the anti-abortion intent and effect of the law from its inception, and ruled it unconstitutional.

Yesterday, a three-judge panel upheld U.S. District Judge's William Conley's 2013 opinion concluding the GOP-imposed law is "motivated by an improper purpose, namely to restrict the availability of abortion services in Wisconsin," (Bice, Spivak, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

The case is Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin et al v. Attorney General Brad Schimel (N0 15-1736). Orals were heard October 1, 2015.

Schimel is a Republican who performs political work in the legal arena for the Scott Walker administration.

Writes Judge Richard Posner for the three-judge panel (with rightwing Judge Daniel Manion dissenting):

There are those who would criminalize all abortions, thus terminating the constitutional right asserted in Roe and Casey and a multitude of other decisions. And there are those who would criminalize all abortions except ones that terminate a pregnancy caused by rape or are necessary to protect the life or (in some versions) the health of the pregnant woman. But what makes no sense is to abridge the constitutional right to an abortion on the basis of spurious contentions regarding women’s health—and the abridgment challenged in this case would actually endanger women’s health. It would do that by reducing the number of abortion doctors in Wisconsin, thereby increasing the waiting time for obtaining an abortion, and that increase would in turn compel some women to defer abortion to the second trimester of their pregnancy—which the studies we cited earlier find to be riskier than a first-trimester abortion. For abortions performed in the first trimester the rate of major complications is 0.05-0.06 percent (that is, between five one-hundredths of 1 percent and six one-hundredths of 1 percent. It is 1.3 percent for second-trimester abortions between 22 and 26 times higher. [p.23]

Notes Posner on Republican end-around and disingenuous legislative initiatives to halt the Constitutionally protected women's' choice to choose to have an abortion:

A great many Americans, including a number of judges, legislators, governors, and civil servants, are passionately opposed to abortion—as they are entitled to be. But persons who have a sophisticated understanding of the law and of the Supreme Court know that convincing the Court to overrule Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey is a steep uphill fight, and so some of them proceed indirectly, seeking to discourage abortions by making it more difficult for women to obtain them. They may do this in the name of protecting the health of women who have abortions, yet as in this case the specific measures they support may do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion. [pp 24.25]

Concluded Posner: "[I]t is apparent that the defendants have failed to make a dent in the district court's opinion granting the permanent injunction sought by the plaintiffs." [pp 28, 29]

Roe, (upheld in Planned Parenthood of Se. Penn. v. Casey (1992)), is a landmark case acknowledging the personal, "fundamental" right to liberty and privacy (against state action) individual women retain in the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

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