Planned Parenthood to resume abortion services in Wisconsin

By: - September 14, 2023 12:50 pm
Screenshot from Planned Parenthood Zoom press conference. From top left: Analiese Eicher, Dr. Allison Linton, Tanya Atkins, Michelle Velasquez

Screenshot from Planned Parenthood Zoom press conference. From top left: Analiese Eicher, Dr. Allison Linton, Tanya Atkins, Michelle Velasquez

On Thursday morning, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin announced that it will resume providing abortion services at clinics in Madison and Milwaukee. The announcement comes after more than a year during which abortion services were suspended in Wisconsin following the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and ending federally protected abortion rights.

“Today, we are eager to announce that Planned Parenthood Wisconsin will be resuming abortion care on Monday, Sept. 18,” Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin President Tanya Atkins said in a Thursday morning press conference. “The appointments will open today and care will begin on the 18th.”

The decision is based on a July 7 ruling by Dane County Judge Diane Schlipper that Wisconsin’s 1849 law, which has been widely interpreted as a criminal abortion ban, does not, in fact, apply to abortions. The court reiterated that position in a separate decision on Aug. 14.

“We are confident from a legal perspective that abortion care can be provided in Wisconsin,” said Michelle Velasquez, Legal Director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. The Dane County judge was “very clear,” she added, that the 1849 statute does not apply to consensual abortions, but rather to feticide.

Planned Parenthood had always taken the position that the 1849 law “was not enforceable and did not automatically spring back to life when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade last summer,” Velasquez said. Still, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin suspended abortion services until now “to protect our physicians, clinicians and other support health care staff, because of the real threat of those who believed that the law just sort of automatically sprung back to life and were really willing to try and enforce that law.”

While clinics in Milwaukee and Madison will immediately begin taking appointments, the Sheboygan Planned Parenthood clinic will not begin providing abortions on Sept. 18. 

“Our intent is absolutely to resume services in Sheboygan,” said Dr. Allison Linton, a Planned Parenthood provider who participated in the Thursday press conference. In answer to a question about whether the group is worried about threats of prosecution by Sheboygan County District Attorney Joel Urmanski, she said that was not a factor. “It really is truly a staffing and logistic question at this time. So we know that it’s important to not only have access but also reliable access. So we will be working in the next coming weeks to hopefully restore access in Sheboygan,” Linton said.

The pause in services in Wisconsin “has been devastating for women, devastating for people across the gender spectrum who need access to abortion,” said Atkins. 

“This has put the people Wisconsin that need an abortion in, in some cases, in dangerous situations,” she added.


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Ruth Conniff
Ruth Conniff

Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine where she worked for many years from both Madison and Washington, DC. Shortly after Donald Trump took office she moved with her family to Oaxaca, Mexico, and covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Trump. Conniff is the author of "Milked: How an American Crisis Brought Together Midwestern Dairy Farmers and Mexican Workers" which won the 2022 Studs and Ida Terkel award from The New Press. She is a frequent guest on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and three daughters.