Dane County Judge Clarifies State Law On Medical Abortion

Dane County Judge Rules That Doctors Don't Have To Be Present When Women Take Medical Abortion Pills

Planned Parenthood alleged a 2012 law's language may have led to prosecution of doctors who aren't present when women take pills to induce a medical abortion. Photo: Lola Smith (CC-BY-NC).

A Dane County circuit court judge ruled on Thursday that a doctor does not have to be present when a woman takes prescribed medication for an abortion.

The ruling from Circuit Judge Richard Niess clarified a law that was challenged by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin shortly after it was passed in 2012.

The organization was concerned that vague language in the bill put doctors at risk of criminal prosecution if they prescribed abortion medication in-person but weren’t present when women took the medication.

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Teri Huyck, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, said the decision is a victory for women:

“We just applaud this decision to protect women’s access to safe and legal abortion using medication, and as a result of the decision we can confidently continue to provide medication and abortions to women,” said Huyck.

Supporters of the law, called Act 217, say it provides safeguards to ensure that no woman is forced to have an abortion.