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Abortion ruling prompts reaction from Wisconsin

By The Associated Press

When the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a right to abortion, it sparked legal changes and court challenges in states nationwide. In some states, there are multiple bans and multiple lawsuits in play, keeping the landscape unsettled. And further legislation could soon change things again. The June 24 Dobbs v. Jackson ruling is expected to lead ultimately to bans or deep restrictions on access to abortion in about half the states. Meanwhile, most Democrat-led states have put into place policies intended to protect abortion access.

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 24 overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion. The ruling was expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states, although the timing of those laws taking effect varies.

Some Republican-led states banned or severely limited abortion immediately after the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, while other restrictions will take effect later.

In anticipation of the decision, several states led by Democrats took steps to protect abortion access. The decision also set up the potential for legal fights between the states over whether providers and those who help women obtain abortions can be sued or prosecuted.

In Wisconsin, the Legislature is controlled by Republicans who want to ban or restrict access to abortions, but the Democratic governor supports access and is up for reelection this year.

What’s happened since Dobbs: Abortion clinics have stopped performing the procedure in Wisconsin under an 1849 law that banned abortions except to save a mother’s life. Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, has filed a lawsuit in state court challenging the ban. He argues that a 1985 state law prohibiting abortion after a fetus can survive outside the womb trumps the older law. While that lawsuit is pending, anti-abortion groups have said they will work with the Republican-controlled Legislature next year to update or replace the 1849 law.

What’s in effect: Possibly the 1849 ban on all abortions except to save a woman’s life.

Clinics offering abortions? No.

What’s next: The attorney general’s lawsuit against the 1849 law is pending in Dane County.

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