While welcoming the shift, Gov. Tony Evers also stressed that the broader battle is far from over and “I will keep fighting like hell every day until Wisconsinites have the right to make their own healthcare decisions.”
Wisconsin residents, reproductive rights advocates, and Democratic political leaders on Thursday celebrated after Planned Parenthood announced that it will resume abortion care at Madison and Milwaukee clinics next week following a recent court ruling.
“With patients and community as our central priority and driving force, we are eager to resume abortion services and provide this essential care to people in our state,” said Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (PPWI) president and CEO Tanya Atkinson in a statement.
“With the recent confirmation from the court that there is not an enforceable abortion ban in Wisconsin, our staff can now provide the full scope of sexual and reproductive healthcare to anyone in Wisconsin who needs it, no matter what,” added Atkinson.
Wisconsin Planned Parenthoods are resuming abortion care next week, even though the state ban hasn't been repealed. Here for it. https://t.co/T9htkQTlmS— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) September 14, 2023
After the U.S. Supreme Court’s right-wing majority reversed Roe v. Wade last year, PPWI stopped providing abortion care due to uncertainty over an 1849 Wisconsin law—which is still being challenged and expected to eventually reach the state Supreme Court.
As Atkinson explained in a two-minute video posted on social media Thursday, PPWI decided to resume care after Dane County Judge Diane Schlipper ruled in July that “there is no such thing as an ‘1849 abortion ban’ in Wisconsin.”
Schlipper determined that the law only applies to feticide, or the act of killing a fetus, and wrote that “a physician who performs a consensual medical abortion commits a crime only ‘after the fetus or unborn child reaches viability.'”
BREAKING: @PPAWI Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is resuming abortion care first in Milwaukee &Madison. Abortion is essential health care.— Khary Penebaker (@kharyp) September 14, 2023
Abortion access being restored in #WI is an essential first step in ensuring all Wisconsinites can control their bodies.
The path to full… pic.twitter.com/LJPbFMPHXO
The Guttmacher Institute—which tracks state-level policy changes on abortion rights across the country—declared Thursday on X, formerly Twitter, that “this is a win for people in Wisconsin seeking care, advocates, and providers!”
The pause on abortion care in Wisconsin forced patients to continue dangerous or unwanted pregnancies, self-manage abortions, or seek care elsewhere—such as in Democrat-controlled Illinois, which is surrounded by states with strict anti-choice laws, including Wisconsin, and has been flooded with “abortion refugees” since the Roe reversal.
“The ability to provide abortion services in Wisconsin again is crucial to being able to address the full scope of care for our patients,” PPWI associate medical director Dr. Allie Linton said Thursday. “Patients who walk through our doors can again know they will receive the comprehensive, high quality, nonjudgmental, and confidential reproductive care they deserve.”
This is a HUGE win for abortion rights in Wisconsin! https://t.co/Q77T02Kcrj— Women's March (@womensmarch) September 14, 2023
In a statement welcoming PPWI’s decision, Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers noted that Schlipper’s ruling in July stemmed from an attempt to dismiss a lawsuit that he and state Attorney General Josh Kaul filed to clarify that the 1849 law could not be used to prevent abortion care.
“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,” said Evers. “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.”
“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,” he added. “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.”
Other Democratic political leaders in Wisconsin who applauded the development included former Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Secretary of State Sarah Godlewski, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, and Congresswoman Gwen Moore, who has previously spoken about her decision, as a low-income 19-year-old mother, to end her second pregnancy before Roe.
Praising PPWI’s announcement as “an important step toward restoring reproductive freedom for everyone in our state,” Opportunity Wisconsin said that “no Wisconsinite should face a massive financial burden just to access the basic healthcare services they need.”
The coalition also called out Wisconsin Republicans in Congress who have joined their GOP colleagues in blocking federal legislation that would affirm abortion rights nationwide.
Their refusal to protect abortion access at the federal level left Wisconsinites without the care they deserve, or forced them to spend thousands traveling out-of-state to access care that should be available closer to home.— Opportunity Wisconsin (@OpportunityWI) September 14, 2023
Abortion—and specifically, fights over the 1849 law—was a key issue in the April election in which voters elected Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which now has a liberal majority for the first time in 15 years. Republicans in the state Legislature are threatening to impeach her before she even hears a case.
“Wisconsin Republicans are threatening to impeach Justice Protasiewicz for one reason: to stay in power,” Moore said Sunday. “They know they’re outnumbered on issues like abortion, so the only way to keep their extreme policies in place is to subvert the will of the voters.”
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