© 2023 WXPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Planned Parenthood resumes abortions in Wisconsin

Protesters are seen in the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda during a march supporting overturning Wisconsin's near total ban on abortion Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash
Protesters are seen in the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda during a march supporting overturning Wisconsin's near total ban on abortion Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is resuming abortion services this week.

The organization stopped abortions after Roe v. Wade was overturned last year.

This week, Planned Parenthood cited a July ruling by a Dane County Circuit Court Judge.

After the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, it wasn’t completely clear what was legal and what wasn’t when it came to abortion in Wisconsin.

A lot of people turned to an 1849 law that they believed banned abortions unless the mother’s life is threatened.

I spoke with Michelle Velasquez, Legal Director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.

She explained that when Dobbs was decided, the organization paused abortions while they worked on a legal strategy to ensure that they could keep functioning.

“We knew that there were people in this state, who believed instead, it had in fact sprung back to life or that it would spring back to life if Roe was overturned, and that they would seek to enforce that law. And so while we didn't believe that to be the case, out of an abundance of caution, and to protect our physicians and staff, and the organization, we decided to suspend services until there was some further clarity on the status of the law,” she explained.

Last June, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit that challenged the application and enforceability of Wisconsin’s 1849 law.

In her July ruling, a Dane County judge was unequivocal that this law did not pertain to consensual medical abortions.

“There is no such thing as an '1849 Abortion Ban' in Wisconsin," Judge Schlipper wrote.

“This really allows Wisconsinites to access this essential and often life saving care right here in their own state,” said Velasquez.

While they stopped providing abortions, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin paired with the Illinois branch of the organization to continue offering services.

“Even with some assistance, it's still an insurmountable barrier for some to leave the state. For some people, they have had to continue with perhaps dangerous pregnancies. They have been sent out of state sick because they haven't been sick enough in the eyes of a treating physician to provide [an abortion]. There was a narrow exception in that law, only to save the life of the pregnant person,” said Velasquez.

Planned Parenthood is resuming abortion services at its Milwaukee and Madison clinics.

While they resume services in southern Wisconsin, Legal Director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, Michelle Velasquez, says that there is still more to be done.

“People in in the northern part of the state in more rural areas of the state have much further distances to go for for this type of health care, and that is something that we are very, very well aware of and that criminal abortion bans and that lack of abortion access impacts rural communities pretty significantly,” she said.

Velasquez also pointed out financial obstacles in Wisconsin law for people seeking abortions.

“Wisconsin law doesn't permit state Medicaid programs or health insurance for public employees or health insurance that’s purchased on the marketplace. State law prohibits those insurances from paying for abortion services, so people have to pay out of pocket for those things,” she said.

Even with Planned Parenthood resuming abortion services, the lawsuits over the 1849 law are still making their way through the courts.

Hannah Davis-Reid is a WXPR Reporter.
Related Content