Milwaukee, WI – Teri Huyck, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, announced today that Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has decided to suspend medication (nonsurgical) abortion services until further notice as a result of concern over new restrictions recently signed into law by Governor Walker and put into effect today. The new law (Act 217) creates additional barriers for women seeking abortion health care services and imposes criminal penalties for physicians providing medication abortion if they do not follow new requirements relating to that service. The law as drafted is ambiguous and difficult to interpret. As a result of this politically motivated law, Wisconsin women stand to lose access to medication abortion health care at three of the only five free standing health centers providing abortion in Wisconsin. Planned Parenthood will continue to provide surgical abortions.
The new law was opposed by leading members of the medical community including Planned Parenthood, the Medical College of Wisconsin, WI Medical Society and the WI Academy of Family Physicians because it interferes with the doctor patient relationship and poses significant legal risk for physicians who provide medication abortion to their patients. The passage of Act 217 was supported by special interest groups which don’t provide any medical care and work to make all abortion health care illegal, including Pro-Life Wisconsin, Wisconsin Right to Life and the WI Catholic Conference.
Medication abortion, a procedure which uses Mifepristone (sometimes called ‘the abortion pill’) is a safe and legal method of early abortion. Medication abortion is only available from a doctor for women within the first 9 weeks of pregnancy. Medication abortion should not be confused with Emergency Contraception, also known as the Morning-After Pill, which is a contraceptive method that is available over the counter and by prescription to prevent pregnancy up to 5 days after unprotected sex.
Teri Huyck issued the following statement regarding the impact of this new law on women’s health care access:
“Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is a nonprofit health care provider that works every day to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and to keep women healthy by providing the highest quality of reproductive health care to its patients. Our medical protocols are based on the most careful and exhaustive review of available medical best practice and research.
Act 217 conflicts with the evidence-based protocol used by the medical community. It interferes with the patient-physician relationship and places an unneeded and unprecedented burden on Wisconsin physicians and women.
Planned Parenthood already works to ensure all women who come to us for health care do so of their own free will and receive all information necessary so they can make informed health care decisions that are in the best interest of their health.
Act 217 adds new burdens to a woman seeking medication abortion by requiring at least three separate doctor visits. The bill also creates criminal penalties for physicians who fail to follow legislatively-prescribed procedures, even if those mandates do not match established medical standards of care. The added risks of felony penalties for physicians who provide medication abortion are unnecessary and intended to threaten a physician’s ability to provide women with medication abortion.
The decision to end a pregnancy is a complex one, specific to each woman and her individual circumstances. Decisions about childbearing should be made by a woman in consultation with her family and doctor — not by politicians. Planned Parenthood will continue to be there to provide women with quality, safe and legal health care services without judgment.”