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.
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.
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.
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.