Protecting Wisconsin's Pregnant, Substance-Addicted Mothers and Their Unborn Children

Loertscher v. Anderson

At issue in this case is Wisconsin’s 1997 Act 292, which extends the applicability the “CHIPS” process (Children In need of Protection and/or Services) to allow county health services agencies to protect the unborn children of pregnant mothers struggling with substance abuse. Act 292 has helped many women gain access to the treatment and services they need to overcome their addictions, and to ensure that their babies are born healthy, frequently on a voluntary basis. The Act also includes provisions to protect the interests of unborn children whose mothers refuse to seek help.

 

Tamara Loertscher filed suit in federal court, alleging that Act 292 is unconstitutionally vague. The State argues a) that the Act uses standard terminology, found in nearly all state and Federal laws related to substance abuse, that the United States Supreme Court has previously found to be specific enough to pass constitutional muster; b) that in any event, Loertscher, who is no longer a resident of Wisconsin, lacks standing to challenge the State's laws; and c) that invalidating Act 292 will have devastating impacts on pregnant, substance-addicted mothers and their unborn children.

 

Status: Act 292 was put back into full effect following the State's successful application for a stay of the District Court's order enjoining enforcement. It remains in effect pending the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals' decision on the merits.

 

Litigation Closed: 
No