What you need to know about abortion in Wisconsin

Here's where abortion rights stand following the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

What you need to know about abortion in Wisconsin
Photo by Hayley Sperling

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, holding that there is no longer a federal constitutional right to abortion.

With Roe overturned, an 1849 law criminalizing abortion is now in effect for Wisconsin. The only exception to the law comes when an abortion is medically necessary to save the pregnant person's life. For context, that law passed 71 years before women had the right to vote.

Following the Supreme Court's ruling, thousands mobilized around the state and country in support of abortion.

Many questions still linger about what the future of reproductive rights in Wisconsin and beyond. Here are the facts of the situation and related news coverage from outlets around the state.

The facts about abortion in Wisconsin

Photo by Hayley Sperling

What are local officials saying?

Overwhelmingly, government officials from the City of Madison and Dane County have come out in support of abortion and upholding reproductive rights.

I’m angry. Angry that, despite most people in this country supporting abortion rights, a handful of people took those rights away from us. I’m frustrated—frustrated that our gerrymandered state legislature would uphold an antiquated 1849 statute rather than defend our state’s freedoms. And I’m fearful—fearful for all the people who will experience hardship and suffering from this decision, and fearful for the ripple effects this decision will have on our society. — Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway

The Madison City Council recently passed a resolution "To Protect Reproductive Justice in the City of Madison" by reaffirming its support for the Madison Police Department's decision not to arrest people for any violation of the 1849 anti-abortion law.

Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes said Friday his department will not pursue the arrest of abortion providers in the city.

Our commissioned officers are sworn to enforce laws, laws that we do not make, despite whatever our personal opinions might be. However, the criminal enforcement, arrest and investigation of abortions is the lowest priority for the Madison Police Department.

We are officers, not medical providers. We are not able to predict or know what type of service someone is receiving or providing when visiting a clinic. Nor would we ever arrest someone on this type of assumption. Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes
Photo by Hayley Sperling

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne has stopped short of vowing not to prosecute abortion providers but told the State Journal he plans to "prosecute only those crimes that keep our community safe and represent our collective values."

Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett didn't go as far to say his department wouldn't enforce Wisconsin's de-facto abortion ban. In a statement however, the sheriff hinted that it's not his top priority.

As law enforcement, we have a constitutional obligation to enforce the law, despite our personal opinions. With that said, considering our limited resources, our top priority is deterring and solving violent crimes in our Dane County community. — Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett

At the state level, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has condemned the court's decision and vowed to offer clemency to doctors who are prosecuted for performing abortions in Wisconsin.

Our work to do the right thing for the people of this state must continue. We will fight this decision in every way we can with every power we have. As people in Wisconsin and across our country make their voices heard in the days and months ahead, we will do so peacefully and without violence.
— Gov. Tony Evers
SCOTUS strikes down Roe v. Wade making nearly all abortions illegal in Wisconsin
Nearly all abortions are now illegal in Wisconsin. The U.S. Supreme Court released a decision Friday overturning Roe v. Wade.

Abortion resources and protest info for Madisonians
Where to go for help, where to donate, where the protests are.

Wisconsin faces a ‘tangled series’ of abortion laws dating back to 1849 as it heads into a possible post-Roe future - WisconsinWatch.org
Top GOP lawmakers remain mum on plans if the constitutional right to an abortion is overturned — and state law banning nearly all abortions takes effect.

Are abortions ever medically necessary? Wisconsin doctors say yes. - WisconsinWatch.org
Life-threatening conditions can develop or be exacerbated during pregnancy — and childbirth itself is high risk for some patients, they say.

Evers offers clemency for doctors prosecuted for performing abortions in Wisconsin
Gov. Tony Evers says he will offer clemency to doctors prosecuted for performing abortions in Wisconsin. The statement came during the Wisconsin Democratic Party convention, in which Evers warned Democrats to hold the line against Republican candidates “running a scorched earth campaign to divide ou…

66 abortions canceled at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin clinics because of Supreme Court ruling
Executive director: ‘When Roe v. Wade was struck down this morning, we had patients in our waiting rooms.’

Wisconsin doctors halt abortions following court ruling
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Doctors across Wisconsin immediately stopped providing abortions on Friday, turning away women in waiting rooms and calling to cancel pending appointments following the U.S.

Roe decision means an immediate halt to abortion in Wisconsin, setting the stage for the state’s 1849 ban to take effect
Supporters and opponents of abortion access have long said overturning Roe would put back into effect the state ban, but legal challenges are likely.