MILWAUKEE — MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Planned Parenthood resumed offering abortion services in Wisconsin on Monday after halting them for more than a year since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Reporting from the Associated Press: Planned Parenthood resumes offering abortions in Wisconsin after more than a year
Providers across the state stopped offering abortions following the June 2022 decision, fearing enforcement of an 1849 state law that appears to ban the procedure but had previously been nullified by the 1973 Roe ruling. A judge ruled last month that the 144-year-old law doesn't apply to medical abortions.
In light of the ruling, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin began offering abortions at clinics in Madison and Milwaukee again on Monday. The group did not say how many abortions it expected to perform but said appointments at its Milwaukee clinic on Monday were completely filled within 24 hours of announcing that services would resume.
Without access to abortion care in Wisconsin for the past 15 months, many patients have sought assistance in neighboring Illinois, where abortions have remained widely available. According to Planned Parenthood of Illinois, its clinics have seen a seven-fold increase in patients from Wisconsin since the Supreme Court overturned Roe.
Women's Medical Fund of Wisconsin, which offers financial assistance for abortion procedures and related costs, helped 477 patients from Wisconsin obtain abortions outside the state in the first six months of 2023, according to board president Cynthia Lin. Most of those appointments were in Minnesota or Illinois, she said.
“There’s a lot of work still to do, even within the return of legal abortion care in Wisconsin,” Lin said on Monday, pointing to the long distances many patients still have to travel to reach clinics in Madison or Milwaukee. Lin also highlighted barriers created by state laws that require people seeking an abortion in Wisconsin to have an ultrasound and a counseling appointment before waiting 24 hours for the procedure.
The lawsuit challenging Wisconsin's 1849 law was brought by the state's Democratic attorney general and is expected to end up in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which flipped to liberal control last month.
Democrats, including Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, praised the resumption of abortion services. Meanwhile, anti-abortion rights groups in the state condemned the move and promised to continue fighting in court for the procedure to be outlawed.
More reporting from TMJ4's Kaylee Staral: Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin resumes abortion services Monday
People across the state are preparing for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin to resume abortion services Monday.
“Our teams are ready to be providing healthcare again and provide this service to Wisconsinites,” Analiese Eicher said.
Eicher is a communications consultant with Planned Parenthood. She said the response since they made the announcement Thursday has been overwhelming.
“We’ve received an incredibly positive response. Lots of phone calls and emails and social media comments. Just a lot of gratitude from folks across Wisconsin,” Eicher explained.
Eicher added that Planned Parenthood does already have appointments scheduled for Monday.
Services will be provided at the Water Street Health Center in Milwaukee, and the Madison East Health Center.
Planned Parenthood stopped abortion services in June of 2022 after the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe V. Wade.
It’s a decision that’s disappointing for some groups, like the Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL).
“It feels very heavy to know tomorrow we will wake up in a Wisconsin where abortions are once again being performed,” Gracie Skogman, the legislative chair for WRTL, said.
Skogman said the fight is not over, and that they are planning to bring pro-life bills in front of a Senate committee later this week.
Local pro-life groups in Milwaukee are also speaking out.
Matt Trewhella is the founder of Missionaries to the Preborn, an organization calling for the abolition of abortion. He said their group is planning to gather outside the Planned Parenthood on Water Street Monday.
“We will be there to speak up for the little ones that can’t speak up for themselves,” Trewhella said.
The group will also be visiting UW-campuses throughout the week to pass out literature and talk with students.
A pro-choice organization, Reproductive Justice Action Milwaukee is also meeting Monday evening at the Milwaukee County Courthouse. Leaders of the group say it’s a celebration.
“It made me tear up a little bit. It’s really exciting and the medical providers are being very brave by opening their doors,” Carly Kleine, the group’s outreach chair, said.
For people on either side of the issue, Monday marks a big day in this continued fight. Leaders of the varying groups said there is still much work to be done, and have events planned throughout the month.
Planned Parenthood said ahead of Monday, they have top security professionals and security measures in place to ensure the safety of their patients and staff.
Photos of protesters in Milwaukee on Monday:
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