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Judge rules 1849 law not an abortion ban

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Judge rules 1849 law not an abortion ban

With Tuesday's ruling, abortion law in Wisconsin reverts to what it was before the Dobbs decision, allowing abortions up to 20 weeks after fertilization.

December 6, 2023 at 01:19 PM UTC

By: Nate Wegehaupt

MADISON, Wis. (Civic Media) – A Dane County judge ruled Tuesday that the 1849 law that was interpreted as a near total ban on abortion in Wisconsin does not ban consensual abortion, and actually bans feticide. While the ruling is a significant step toward restoring abortion access in Wisconsin, the case is likely to be appealed and make its way to the state Supreme Court.

In her 14-page ruling released Tuesday, Judge Diane Schlipper pointed to a 1994 state Supreme Court case, in which the law was used to prosecute a man of feticide after he beat his pregnant girlfriend, causing her to lose the baby. With Tuesday’s decision, abortion laws revert to what they were before the Dobbs decision last year, which allows abortions up to 20 weeks after fertilization.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul praising Tuesday’s ruling, but says the past year has shown what a lack of abortion access really looks like.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin praised the ruling, calling it “another important step forward in restoring and expanding access to abortion in Wisconsin.” Earlier this year, Planned Parenthood began offering abortions in Madison and Milwaukee after Judge Schlipper preliminarily ruled that the law did not prohibit consensual abortions. Officials at Planned Parenthood say that they will begin offering abortions in Sheboygan as soon as possible.

State Attorney General Josh Kaul also praised the ruling. “Freedom wins, equality wins, and women’s health wins,” Kaul said at a press conference this morning. Still Kaul adds that this is not the end of the road to securing abortion access in Wisconsin. 

Attorney General Josh Kaul speaking at a press conference earlier today.

In a statement, Sheboygan County District Attorney Joel Urmanski, one of three district attorneys named in the lawsuit alongside Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, said that he intends to appeal Tuesday’s ruling. 

The case is likely to make its way all the way to the state Supreme Court, which flipped to having a liberal majority earlier this year. Justice Janet Protasiewicz regularly affirmed her support of abortion access on the campaign trail.

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