Demonstrators hold signs while protesting the Supreme Courts draft ruling on Roe vs. Wade on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at the Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison, Wis. Angela Major/WPR
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The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday ruled that Americans no longer hold the constitutional right to abortion. The majority’s ruling overturns Roe v. Wade and allows states to ban the procedure. What does that mean for Wisconsin? The answer is complicated. Earlier this month, Wisconsin Watch’s Phoebe Petrovic examined the “tangled” system of abortion laws and court decisions dating back more than 170 years that take effect with the Roe’s end. It’s worth revisiting that story today.

Wisconsin is now expected to see a legal battle over whether it reverts back to a law from 1849 — a near-total ban on abortion passed 71 years before women had the right to vote. Providers told Petrovic that Roe’s demise would make abortions very difficult — if not impossible — to access in Wisconsin until the legality of the procedure is ironed out in court. 

The ruling came two days after Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature took no action in a special session that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called with the intent of repealing Wisconsin’s abortion ban, passed before the Civil War.

Zero clinics were providing abortion care in Wisconsin as of Friday morning, Lucy Marshall, president of Women’s Medical Fund in Madison, told WPR.

Wisconsin has only four clinics providing elective abortion procedures: two in Milwaukee, one in Madison and one in Sheboygan. Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, which operates three of the four clinics, announced Friday morning that it had suspended abortion services due to the ruling.

“If you live in Wisconsin and need an abortion, it’s important to contact your local Planned Parenthood first. We will work with you to get abortion care in a state where it remains legal,” the provider said on its website

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin previously said that a ruling overturning Roe would halt its service “until there’s clarification from the court of competent jurisdiction, declaring that (1849) law is not enforceable.”

Other major Wisconsin health systems said they would halt abortions following the ruling.

“While reverting to a 173-year-old state law on abortion will create some legal uncertainties, we recognize that this court decision has effectively banned abortions in Wisconsin except to save the life of the mother, and UW Health will continue to comply with the laws related to reproductive healthcare.” UW Health said in a statement.

We offer a roundup of our additional abortion-related coverage from Wisconsin Watch and its partners below. 


Pro-abortion rights protesters hold up signs as they listen to speakers May 3, 2022, in front of the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wis. Abortion in Wisconsin faces an uncertain legal landscape now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. (Angela Major / WPR)

Wisconsin faces a ‘tangled series’ of abortion laws dating back to 1849 as it heads into a possible post-Roe future

Wisconsin Watch — June 4, 2022

Wisconsin is now expected to see a legal battle over whether it reverts back to a law from 1849 — a near-total ban on abortion passed 71 years before women had the right to vote.

Roe decision means an immediate halt to abortion in Wisconsin, setting the stage for the state’s 1849 ban to take effect

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — June 24, 2022

Wisconsin doctors will stop providing abortions immediately following a ruling Friday by a divided U.S. Supreme Court that struck down the court’s landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that made abortion legal for the last 50 years.

Dr. Doug Laube, retired professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and former president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, says abortions are sometimes necessary to save the life of a mother or to avoid serious medical complications. He was photographed in McConnell Hall in Madison, Wis., in 2019. (Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch)

Are abortions ever medically necessary? Wisconsin doctors say yes.

Wisconsin Watch — June 4, 2022

Life-threatening conditions can develop or be exacerbated during pregnancy — and childbirth itself is high risk for some patients, they say.

Chloe Drummond (middle) grabs a sedation kit on June 14, 2022 at Planned Parenthood, 435 S. Water St., in Milwaukee. (Ebony Cox/ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Overwhelmed and uncertain, Milwaukee abortion clinic providers prepare for a post-Roe world

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — June 22, 2022

In Wisconsin — where an 1849 law that is still on the books would criminalize doctors for performing abortions in most cases — some providers plan to head out of state. Some will change jobs and stay in state. Some truly don’t know.

A Wisconsin woman who opposed abortions but terminated a pregnancy at 36 shares her story amid Roe v. Wade decision

Sheboygan Press — June 6, 2022

The woman, who was born and raised in Sheboygan, asked to remain anonymous. She still has some anti-abortion leanings, she said, but now understands why some people need to terminate pregnancies. A potential abortion ban in Wisconsin is “really scary,” she says.

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Jim Malewitz / Wisconsin WatchDeputy Managing Editor

Jim Malewitz joined the Center in 2019 as investigations editor. His role includes editing, managing fellows and interns, facilitating cross-newsroom collaborations and investigative reporting. Jim has worked almost exclusively in nonprofit, public affairs journalism. He most recently reported on the environment for Bridge Magazine in his home state of Michigan, following four years as an energy and investigative reporter for the Texas Tribune. Jim previously covered energy and the environment for Stateline, a nonprofit news service in Washington, D.C. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, POLITICO Magazine and newspapers across the country. Jim majored in political science at Grinnell College in Iowa and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa. There, he was a founding staff member of the nonprofit Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, where he serves on the board of directors.