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Abortions to resume in Wisconsin Monday

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//September 14, 2023//

Wisconsin abortion

FILE - Abortion protesters attempt to hand out literature as they stand in the driveway of a Planned Parenthood clinic (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

Abortions to resume in Wisconsin Monday

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//September 14, 2023//

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Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin announced Thursday abortions in Milwaukee and Madison would resume Monday.

“A decision by the Dane County Circuit Court in July made it clear that the 1849 law is not enforceable for voluntary abortions. Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, in consultation with attorneys, physicians, partners, and other stakeholders, has made the decision to restore this necessary reproductive health care. We are incredibly grateful to the many supporters across Wisconsin who didn’t give up and helped in so many ways to make this possible,” Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin posted to Facebook Thursday.

Wisconsin Abortion

“Planned Parenthood will never back down until abortion access is protected — and expanded — for the patients who count on us for care. No matter what,” Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin officials added.

In response to Planned Parenthood’s announcement Thursday, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said, “I’ve been clear from the beginning that I would fight to restore reproductive freedom in our state with every power and every tool we have, and I’ve spent every day over the last year doing just that.”

“Today’s announcement from Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin as a result of our lawsuit regarding Wisconsin’s criminal abortion ban means Wisconsinites will once again be able to access vital reproductive healthcare and abortion services without exception for the first time since June of last year. This is critically important news for Wisconsin women and patients across our state who, for a year now, have been unable to access the healthcare they need when and where they need it,” Evers noted.

Wisconsin Abortion

Wisconsin abortion

“But I also want to be clear today: I will never let up. And we must not let up. Our fight to restore the same reproductive rights and freedoms Wisconsinites had up until the day the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe must continue. I will keep fighting like hell every day until Wisconsinites have the right to make their own healthcare decisions without interference from politicians who don’t know anything about their lives, their family, or their circumstances,” Evers added.

Both Evers and Planned Parenthood noted over a year ago now, on June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey and upending nearly 50 years of a constitutional right to abortion that Wisconsinites and Americans had relied upon for nearly five decades.

Evers also said, “the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe threw reproductive freedom in Wisconsin into chaos. As Wisconsin remains one of several states with an outdated criminal abortion ban on the books—which was enacted in 1849 before the Civil War and at a time when Wisconsin women did not have the right to vote—healthcare providers and patients in Wisconsin were thrown into legal uncertainty, and nearly all abortion services in the state ceased.”

Roe v. Wade

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe, Wisconsinites have been without abortion care services, with few exceptions, for more than a year now.

Days after the Dobbs decision was released, Evers and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit to clarify that Wisconsin’s outdated, total criminal ban on abortion is unenforceable. On July 7, 2023, the Dane County Circuit Court denied a motion to dismiss the case and decided to allow that lawsuit to continue. In her ruling, the judge stated that “…Wis. Stat. § 940.04 does not prohibit a consensual medical abortion.” In response to the court’s ruling, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin today announced they plan to resume providing abortion services to patients in Wisconsin.

Gov. Evers and Democrats have been working to protect and defend reproductive freedom for Wisconsinites for the past four years, including in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe and decades of reproductive healthcare precedent with their ruling in Dobbs.

Over the course of the past four years, the governor has vetoed several bills passed by the Legislature, including several during the last legislative session that would have restricted access to abortion, inserted politics into the personal and private conversations between patients and their healthcare providers and made it harder for doctors to provide medically accurate information and treatment. Many of these bills also sought to limit healthcare options for people seeking basic, necessary care, such as pregnancy care, cancer screening and prevention, sexually transmitted disease screening and treatment, and wellness exams, Evers noted.


Prior to the Dobbs decision, Evers joined legislative Democrats in calling on the Legislature to repeal “Wisconsin’s archaic criminal abortion ban.” When a leaked draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Dobbs revealed the Supreme Court was poised to overturn Roe, Gov. Evers called the Legislature into a special session to press legislative action to protect reproductive freedom.

Ever also noted last fall, after U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) erroneously suggested Wisconsin voters could challenge the state’s 1800s-era criminal abortion ban directly through a binding statewide referendum—something he has repeatedly since recommended, which he knows is not permissible in Wisconsin even though it is allowable in 20 other states.

Evers again called the Legislature into a special session to create a pathway for Wisconsinites to directly challenge the state’s criminal abortion ban and repeal the archaic law. Republicans in the Legislature gaveled out of the special session without consideration or debate.

Earlier this year, in January, the governor and legislative Democrats announced a new effort to put an advisory referendum on the April 2023 ballot, asking voters if Wisconsin should repeal the state’s criminal abortion ban and restore the constitutional rights guaranteed for nearly 50 years under Roe.

In March 2023, Gov. Evers again joined legislative Democrats to reintroduce legislation to repeal Wisconsin’s 1849-era criminal abortion ban—a ban that was passed before the Civil War and before women had the right to vote and that prohibits nearly all abortions without exceptions for rape and incest. The bill, Assembly Bill 218, would cleanly repeal Wisconsin’s criminal abortion ban, removing this archaic statute from our books and effectively reverting abortion access in Wisconsin to what it was on June 23, 2022, the day before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs.

Wisconsin Representative Lisa Subeck (D-South Central, Wisconsin) who has represented the 78th legislative district since 2015 responded, “I am thrilled that Wisconsinites will once again have access to abortion services without being forced to travel out of state. This restores the ability of patients, in consultation with their physicians, to make their own decisions when facing an unintended or untenable pregnancy. If the last year has shown us anything, it is that our freedom to make our own reproductive health care decisions is fragile and must be protected. That is why I will continue working to pass the Restore Roe Act and other measures to ensure our reproductive freedom into the future.”

Public policy reaction

Sen. Kelda Roys (D-Madison) agreed with Subeck.

“This is a welcome decision for patients. For the past 15 months, abortion has been unavailable in Wisconsin, forcing people to travel out of state to receive necessary medical care. No one’s rights or freedom should be limited by where they live, or the whims of a judge, politician, or corporation. Criminalizing abortion does not stop abortion — just this week, data from the Guttmacher Institute shows that the number of abortions in Illinois and Minnesota, and nationally, has risen substantially, despite abortion being unavailable in wide swaths of the country,” Roys said.

“While we must continue to fight for constitutional protection of reproductive rights in our statehouses and courtrooms, we must also educate and empower ourselves and each other. Medication abortion should be available over the counter,” Roys added.

The Wisconsin Law Journal reached out to Devin LeMahieu (R-Sheboygan) for his reaction. A staffer said a statement has not been issued yet.

The Wisconsin Law Journal also reached out to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), but no one was available for comment prior to publication.

The Wisconsin Law Journal also reached out to Republican Senator Ron Johnson seeking comment. No one in Johnson’s office was available prior to publication.



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