– Planned Parenthood will resume abortion care at two facilities in Wisconsin for the first time in more than a year, it said on Thursday following a county court ruling that an 1849 state law did not apply to most consensual abortions.
Legal abortion care largely ended in Wisconsin as a result of the 19th-century law after the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2022 reversed the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that granted a nationwide right to abortion, subsequently giving individual states the authority to ban abortion.
A judge in Wisconsin’s Dane County Circuit Court ruled in July that the 1849 law prohibited the killing of fetuses but said “nothing about abortion,” and therefore did not bar doctors from performing consensual medical abortions before the fetus was viable.
In the wake of that ruling, abortion care will again be available starting on Monday at Planned Parenthood centers in Milwaukee and Madison, according to Tanya Atkinson, the president of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.
“Abortion is healthcare. The people of Wisconsin have been without this essential and necessary care for over a year,” said Atkinson in a video statement. She added that the abortion provider was “confident” in its decision to resume service in the state.
Planned Parenthood, the state’s biggest abortion provider, is the first to make the announcement.
Abortion has become one of the hottest political issues in Wisconsin, which will be a key swing state in the 2024 U.S. presidential election. The state is one of 15 in the United States where abortion services ceased or were severely restricted after the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
The state Supreme Court flipped to a liberal majority in April with the election of a justice who made abortion access a centerpiece of her campaign. Abortion rights advocates cheered Janet Protasiewicz’s victory because the court is expected to ultimately rule on whether the 1849 law can be used to ban abortions in the state.
Anti-abortion groups on Thursday called Planned Parenthood’s decision “devastating” and claimed it was driven by financial motives.
“Planned Parenthood is more concerned about their bottom line and keeping abortion dollars in Wisconsin than finding a way to help women in unplanned pregnancies,” said Heather Weininger, the head of Wisconsin Right to Life, in a statement.
Wisconsin’s Democratic Governor Tony Evers called the resumption of abortion services “critically important news,” but added that he would “keep fighting like hell” to fully restore the right to abortion in the state.
Evers has vetoed several efforts by Wisconsin’s majority conservative legislature to further restrict abortion access, as well as filing a lawsuit to challenge the abortion ban and backing legislation that would repeal the 1849 law altogether.