US appeals court rules against Wisconsin abortion doctor law

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Wisconsin Abortion Law Ruled Unconstitutional




A Wisconsin law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital is unconstitutional, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Monday, addressing a topic the U.S. Supreme Court is considering during its current term.

Abortion providers in Wisconsin had challenged the state law, which requires doctors to have privileges at a hospital within 30 miles (50 km). The law's supporters said the measure ensures continuity of care while opponents say it serves almost no public health value and is intended to shut clinics.

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A federal judge in March permanently blocked the Wisconsin law, ruling that the health benefits, if any, were outweighed by the burden on women's health caused by restricted access to abortion.

The U.S. Supreme Court earlier in November agreed to take up a major abortion case for the first time since 2007. In that case, Texas abortion providers are challenging state requirements that they have admitting privileges and costly hospital-grade surgical facilities.

In the Wisconsin case, the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said a statute that curtails the constitutional right to an abortion, such as the Wisconsin and Texas laws, cannot withstand challenge without evidence that it is justified by benefits.

See photos of the abortion debate across the US:

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US appeals court rules against Wisconsin abortion doctor law
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Activists participate in the 2016 March for Life January 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. The annual event marked the anniversary of the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Pro-abortion activists gather in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, 0n January 22, 2016 as the country marks the 43rd anniversary of the Roe v Wasde Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion. / AFP / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
A young anti-abortion activist chants slogans during a march to the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, 0n January 22, 2016 as the country marks the 43rd anniversary of the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion. / AFP / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-abortion demonstrators take part in a rally, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
An anti-abortion demonstrator holds a sign and a flower while cheering during a rally, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Right to Life advocates pray during a sit-in in front of a proposed Planned Parenthood location while demonstrating the group's opposition to congressional funding of Planned Parenthood on September 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Right to Life groups who took part in the protest are also calling on Pope Francis to 'address the pro-life issue and the defunding of Planned Parenthood' when he addresses Congress on September 24. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Assembly of some 150 anti-abortion protesters behind barricade in front of Planned Parenthood. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: U.S. Capitol Police stand guard after pro-choice activists blocked the street and temporarily stopped the annual March for Life in front of the U.S. Supreme Court January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pro-life activists gathered in the nation's capital to mark the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: A pro-life activist holds a sign as he participates in the annual March for Life January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pro-life activists gathered in the nation's capital to mark the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Pro-choice activists shout slogans before the annual March for Life passes by the U.S. Supreme Court January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pro-life activists gathered in the nation's capital to mark the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Pro-life activists participate in the annual March for Life as they pass in front of the U.S. Capitol January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pro-life activists gathered in the nation's capital to mark the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Pro-life activists try to block pro-choice activists as the annual March for Life passes by in front of the U.S. Supreme Court January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pro-life activists gathered in the nation's capital to mark the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Pro-choice activists block the street and temporarily stop the annual March for Life in front of the U.S. Supreme Court January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pro-life activists gathered in the nation's capital to mark the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
A pro-choice activists holds a placard in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 22, 2015, as she and others await the pro-choice activists with the March For Life. Tens of thousands of Americans who oppose abortion are in Washington for the annual March for Life, marking the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-choice activists block the road against US Capitol Police, who are escorting the March For Life's path, in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 22, 2015. Tens of thousands of Americans who oppose abortion are in Washington for the annual March for Life, marking the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A pro-choice activist is arrested and carried away by US Capitol police after blocking the road against the March For Life's path in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 22, 2015. Tens of thousands of Americans who oppose abortion are in Washington for the annual March for Life, marking the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: Anti-abortion advocates stage a 'die-in' protest at Lafayette Square near the White House January 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. In a written statement on Tuesday, the Obama administration denounced a GOP-backed bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and suggested the President would veto H. R. 36 - Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act if the bill reached his desk. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Anti-abortion activists take part in the annual 'March for Life' rally on January 22, 2015 in Washington DC. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 30: Anti-abortion advocates cheer in front of the Supreme Court after the decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores was announced June 30, 2014 in Washington, DC. The high court ruled 5-4 that requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act violated a federal law protecting religious freedom. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 26: Pro-life activists gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court June 26, 2014 in Washington, DC. The court overturned today a Massachusetts law barring protests within 35 feet of abortion clinics. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 26: Pro-life activists gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court June 26, 2014 in Washington, DC. The court overturned today a Massachusetts law barring protests within 35 feet of abortion clinics. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supporters of Women's Rights and LGBT groups protest across from the Beverly Hills Hotel, owned by the Sultan of Brunei, demanding he rescind a Taliban-like Brunei penal code which included the stoning to death of gay men and lesbians and the public flogging of women who have abortions, on May 5 2014 in Beverly Hills, California, before the arrival of Jay Leno who spoke in support of the groups. The southeast Asian nation of Brunei, a would-be member of the Obama administrations Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, is under fire from Hollywood and human rights activists for adopting a brutal penal code based on Sharia law with punishments including flogging, dismemberment and death by stoning for crimes such as adultery and sodomy. AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
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The evidence presented to the Texas legislature and discussed in the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals was weak and was nonexistent in the Wisconsin case, Judge Richard Posner found in an opinion concurred in by Judge David Hamilton.

Judge Daniel Manion dissented, saying that Wisconsin had a rational basis for the law.

Abortion remains a contentious issue in the United States more than four decades after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized the procedure and some states have sought to chip away at a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy.

The Supreme Court has allowed some state restrictions on abortions, such as permitting states to mandate parental consent for minors. But the top court has said states cannot impose an "undue burden" on the right to end a pregnancy.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by David Gregorio)


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