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Forced Admitting Privileges on Clinics are Unconstitutional: 7th Cir.

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on November 20, 2015 | Last updated on January 31, 2023
In what could end up being one of the most significant reproductive rights cases in recent history -- that is, if it gets to SCOTUS -- the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that forced admitting privileges on abortion clinics by nearby hospitals was an unconstitutional undue burden on a women's rights. Requiring admitting privileges has the effect of imposing the standards of local hospitals within a given proximity on clinics that offer abortions, a feature that many pro-life activists have used to advance their cause in so called "TRAP" laws.

It's a TRAP

Pro-Choice activists are certainly no fan of admitting privileges provisions and call them TRAPs -- Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. By using the admitting privileges of nearby hospitals, Pro-Life supporters essentially force 72 hour waiting periods, required counseling, education, and what have often been decried as "awful human being guilt" programs.

Roe v. Wade Legacy

One case questioning the constitutional validity of an admitting privileges law began in Texas and is currently on its way to SCOTUS. This case is hardly the first of these admitting privilege cases to be vitriolically fought. If SCOTUS should find that such laws meet constitutional muster, they could potentially lead to abortions being de facto impossible in some states, while remaining available in others. It could be the most significant reproductive rights case since Roe v. Wade.

Planned Parenthood v. Casey

Since 1992, the country has been operating under SCOTUS's decision in Casey which stood for the rule that a woman's right to an abortion could be delayed so long as such procedures did not amount to an "undue burden," defined as a burden on rights based on severity or because of want of legitimate, rational justification.

Disparate Impact

Abortion rights activists have argued that the admitting privileges provisions place an undue burden on specific portion of the population: the poor. Not only are the poor more likely to seek abortion procedures, but the provisions force clinics to "come to code," significantly increasing cost, causing many clinics to shut down. We will be following this case as it heads to SCOTUS -- or not.

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