Planned Parenthood is going to restart abortions in Wisconsin after a pause of more than a year. The organization suspended its operations in the state last year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade because a state law banned the procedure. Now a court has ruled that law doesn’t apply to consensual procedures.
When the Supreme Court passed Roe v Wade in 1973 it made an end run around state laws, ruling that abortion was a constitutional right. Most of those state laws were never repealed, though; they just lay on the books for 49 years, dormant and ignored.
Then, last June, the Supreme Court revisited Roe v Wade and overturned it — meaning those state laws could all be reactivated. When that happened, Planned Parenthood’s Wisconsin chapter realized an 1849 law banned abortion in the state. Although they insisted the law was unenforceable, it seems they didn’t want to test that in court, and last June they suspended abortions.
However, on June 28, 2022, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D) filed a legal challenge to the 1849 law, arguing that it couldn’t be enforced because when it was introduced there was already a state law allowing abortion up to 22 weeks into pregnancy. In July, a state court decided the ban doesn’t apply to voluntary abortions. Planned Parenthood has now decided that’s enough legal cover for them, and on September 14 the Wisconsin chapter announced it was reopening its booking schedule, with abortions due to restart on September 18.
The ruling that the 1849 law doesn’t ban consensual abortions is likely to end up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, but there’s little chance of pro-life advocates managing to overturn it there. In August, the court flipped from conservative to liberal after new justice Janet Protasiewicz was sworn in, so it’s likely the ruling will be upheld.
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