As legal battle over abortion in Wisconsin heats up, obstacles appear
Milwaukee, WI – On July 11, Reproductive Justice Action Milwaukee (RJAM) held a press conference in front of Milwaukee City Hall concerning the recent updates to the lawsuit being pursued by Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul against the 1849 state statute 940.04. This lawsuit was launched by Kaul on June 28, 2022, in response to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson decision and came in the wake of mass protests across the state.
If this lawsuit wins, the next hurdle to abortion access will be from a different state statute, 940.195, which says that anyone who “causes bodily harm to an unborn child by an act done with intent to cause bodily harm to that unborn child, to the woman who is pregnant with that unborn child or another” is guilty of a misdemeanor and several felonies. This was included as a part of Wisconsin's Abortion Prevention and Family Responsibility Act of 1985. The law is vague by design and keeps the door open to criminalize women and others seeking abortions as well as those medical professionals who provide the services.
On July 7, Dane County Judge Diane Schlipper said in a ruling, “There is no such thing as an ‘1849 Abortion Ban’ in Wisconsin. A physician who performs a consensual medical abortion commits a crime only after the fetus or unborn child reaches viability.”
“In short, this doesn’t mean abortion access will be immediately restored,” said Blake Jones, propaganda chair of RJAM, during their July 11 press conference. “However, this ruling will most likely be referred to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to vote on sometime after August 1.”
After the Wisconsin Supreme Court decides on this lawsuit, Wisconsin would revert to the more recent state statute 940.15. “This statute includes banning telehealth consultations, requires parental consent for an abortion, and a mandatory 24-hour waiting period,” said Jones.
During the press conference, RJAM recognized the importance of 940.04 being made obsolete, but also recognized that the fight for abortion access is not over. The organization is calling for abortion access on demand, with no mandatory waiting periods, access to telemedicine consultations, and rural access to abortion services.
“We, along with other grassroots organizations, are committed to fighting for the expansion and protection of reproductive healthcare, to protect the right to bodily autonomy, and to ensure that right can never be threatened again in the state of Wisconsin,” said Jones.