Abortion access banned or at-risk in nearly half of U.S. states

By: - July 6, 2022 6:30 am
People attend a "Fight4Her" pro-choice rally in front of the White House at Lafayette Square on March 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. A coalition of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood and Population Connection Action Fund gathered to demand the end of the 'Global Gag Rule'. (Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images)

People attend a “Fight4Her” pro-choice rally in front of the White House at Lafayette Square on March 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. A coalition of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood and Population Connection Action Fund gathered to demand the end of the ‘Global Gag Rule’. (Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images)

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last month to end the nearly 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion access, states across the country have moved to ban the procedure or had long dormant laws kick back into effect.

In Wisconsin, an 1849 law criminalizing all abortion except when the life of the mother is at stake, remains on the books. The law makes it a felony to provide an abortion, meaning physicians and other health care professionals are likely to be prosecuted.

Republicans in the state, including the four currently running in a primary for governor, have advocated for harshening the 1849 law and removing the health exemption. All four also oppose exemptions in cases of rape and incest.

Democrats in the state have launched several efforts to protect abortion access. Just days before the Supreme Court’s decision was released, Gov. Tony Evers called a special session of the Legislature, asking the Republican-led body to repeal the 1849 law. Republicans took no action when the gaveled in and immediately gaveled out of the session.

The district attorneys in Dane and Milwaukee counties, as well as Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, have said they won’t prosecute anyone for violating the law. Evers has promised clemency to any doctors charged under the statute.

Kaul and Evers have also filed a lawsuit asking a Dane County judge to grant an injunction against the law and declare it unenforceable. The lawsuit, filed last week, will run up against a conservative majority at the Wisconsin Supreme Court where regular swing vote Justice Brian Hagedorn has state previous opposition to abortion rights.

Despite the promises of clemency, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has stopped providing abortions in the state.

In Wisconsin’s neighboring states, abortion access remains intact. A 1995 decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court found that the state’s constitution guarantees the right to an abortion. That seven-member court is held by a majority of Democratic appointees, meaning the decision is likely safe from being overturned for now.

Michigan has a law similar to Wisconsin’s that remains on the books from 1931. Yet in May, a judge granted an injunction declaring the law unenforceable. Citizens are also gathering signatures for a petition that would call for a vote to amend the state constitution and protect abortion rights.

In 2019, Illinois lawmakers passed a bill protecting abortion rights and removing a number of old restrictions on the procedure such as limits on late-term abortions and imposing criminal penalties on doctors. Officials in the largely Democratic state have promised to continue protecting abortion rights.

Abortion access in Iowa remains legal for now but officials in the Republican-held state are moving to ban the procedure. A state Supreme Court decision released just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision found that the Iowa constitution does not guarantee the right to have an abortion and Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is seeking to get a rehearing on two previous court decisions that blocked restrictions on abortion.

GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.

MORE FROM AUTHOR