WISCONSIN (NBC 26) - Currently, Wisconsin state law prohibits abortions after 21 weeks of pregnancy. But a U.S. Supreme Court hearing related to federal abortion rights could help reinstate a 172-year-old Wisconsin law that originally banned all abortions in the badger state and made the act a felony for physicians who conducted the procedure.
Pro-choice and pro-life advocates rallied in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, both sides agreeing that whatever decision the Supreme Court Justices make could lead to major changes to Wisconsin abortion laws.
"This hearing is very significant. We're seeing the most serious threat to abortion access than we've seen in over 50 years," says Tanya Atkinson the President of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.
"This is a once in a generation moment for the pro-life movement," says Gracie Skogman the Legislative Director of Wisconsin Right to Life.
For Wisconsinites, the justices' decision could allow state lawmakers the opportunity to reinstate a law first introduced 172 years ago, but not enforced since the Roe versus Wade decision in the 1970s.
"If roe is overturned as a result of this court case or any other court case, abortion could immediately become a crime in the state of Wisconsin," adds Atkinson.
Atkinson says one major concern with the potential of abortion in Wisconsin becoming a crime is that women will continue to seek the procedure by whatever means possible despite the potential risks, and additionally women's rights could once again be stripped away.
"There are no exceptions for rape, there are no exceptions for the health of the mother. So that is the first and foremost issue in front of us," adds Atkinson.
But pro-life advocates say the tide is turning in their favor and many Americans would like to see their state governments make laws that reflect the viewpoints of their communities.
"Unfortunately, many of the laws that we have worked so hard for and have passed and that have been signed are unenforceable because of that original decision in Roe," says Skogman.
Skogman says she would like to see the Supreme Court Justices overturn the Roe versus Wade decision and give more power to individual states to better protect the unborn in Wisconsin and the country.
"I hope they see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a culture that defends life and defends mothers and women in Wisconsin," adds Skogman.