What are abortion laws in Wisconsin nearly a year after Roe v. Wade was overturned? 5 things to know.

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It's been nearly a year since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the case that made it a constitutional right to an abortion.

With no federal standards in place since June 2022, it's been up to states to enact their own laws and in many cases revert to what was in place before Roe v. Wade went into effect.

Abortion, as a result, has been one of the top issues in Wisconsin for the last 12 months and at the forefront of elections over the last year. So, where do we stand in Wisconsin and what's ahead for abortion laws in the state? Here are five things to know and the impact it has on women.

Wisconsin reverted back to an 1849 abortion law

The state quickly shifted to a law that was previously in place from the 1800s after Roe v. Wade was overturned, sparking uproar from pro-choice advocates and praise in the pro-life circles. The law bans doctors from performing abortions except when the mother would die without having the procedure. Doctors could face a felony crime of up to six years in prison if they give a woman an abortion.

The current ruling has forced medical professionals to delay decisions about health care in high-risk pregnancies because of the uncertainty and fear over legal consequences, the Journal Sentinel has learned.

Dane County Judge Diane Schlipper makes remarks during a case being argued by the state of Wisconsin which challenges a 174-year-old abortion law. Wisconsin lawmakers passed a law in 1849 that outlaws abortion except to save the mother's life. The U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973 that legalized abortion statewide effectively voided the ban.

A lawsuit filed by Attorney General Josh Kaul could set stage for reversal

Attorney General Josh Kaul issued a lawsuit with the state court after Wisconsin's 19th century law went into effect. In short, it sought to clarify the ruling on whether the ban is still in effect and contests that laws passed since Roe v. Wade should override the 1849 ruling. If a judge rules in their favor, abortions would be allowed in order to preserve the health of the mother, based on a law enacted in 1985.

Also, abortion would be legal up until 20 weeks of pregnancy. That rule was passed under former Republican Gov. Scott Walker. For 26 years up until 2022, women seeking abortions also had to participate in counseling and wait 24 hours before their procedure.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Diane Schlipper heard arguments earlier this month, but has yet to make a ruling.

Janet Protasiewicz's victory this spring to earn a spot on the Wisconsin Supreme Court could have implications on the state's abortion ban.
Janet Protasiewicz's victory this spring to earn a spot on the Wisconsin Supreme Court could have implications on the state's abortion ban.

Abortion law will likely go to Wisconsin's Supreme Court

After Schlipper makes a ruling, it's almost a guarantee that it will be challenged one way or another before the seven-member Wisconsin Supreme Court. That's important because the Supreme Court has now shifted to a liberal majority after Janet Protasiewicz defeated former Justice Daniel Kelly in the spring election.

It's the first time in 15 years that the state's highest court has liberal control. And it's likely Protasiewicz would side with Kaul since she often spoke about fighting for a women's right to choose during her campaign. She told the Journal Sentinel before her general election win that while she had personal views regarding the abortion issue, she pointed out it's important to "see what the arguments are that come before the court."

Wisconsin's lawmakers are talking about abortion a lot but nothing is being passed

Several proposed laws have come before the Republican-controlled Legislature this year. None have passed and even if they would they likely won't go into effect since Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has said he'd veto them.

Here are a few abortion-related items from lawmakers.

  • Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said last year in order for women and girls to get an abortion he would require them to get a police report to show they are a victim of sexual assault or incest.

  • A Republican-authored bill, backed by Vos, would allow for abortions under certain exceptions like sexual assault, incest and when the mother is experiencing serious complications. However, Wisconsin's Republican Senate leaders aren't in favor of it and won't even discuss it.

  • GOP Sen. Andre Jacque has authored a bill that would ban public officials from promoting the idea of abortion.

  • A Republican-led package in the Assembly would change the definition of abortion as a way to ensure pregnancy complications are not affected by the abortion ban.

  • Democratic lawmakers want to require insurance providers to cover maternity and newborn care as an essential health benefit.

Wisconsin's neighboring states like Illinois and Minnesota have passed laws making it easier to get an abortion

Wisconsin's surrounding states do not have as restrictive abortion bans like Wisconsin does.

Illinois: Abortions are allowed until a fetus is viable, or after if the life and health of the pregnant person is at risk. Illinois has over 10,000 patients a year from other states for abortion care, and that number increased dramatically since June 2022, the governor's office says. Earlier this year, Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker signed a major reproductive rights protections bill.

Michigan: After Roe v. Wade was overturned, a Michigan court blocked the state's previous abortion ban to continue access for the state. Voters then approved of abortion rights during the fall 2022 election.

Minnesota: Abortions in Minnesota are legal up until fetal viability, or after if the pregnant person's life and health is at risk. Minnesota’s Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that women have a right to an abortion.

Iowa: Abortion is legal until 20 weeks of pregnancy, unless life and physical health are at risk. But, according to the Des Moines Register, the Iowa Supreme Court is set to reconsider a 2018 law that would ban most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

More: Here are all the state's abortion laws

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Roe v Wade overturned; what are Wisconsin's abortion laws?