Planned Parenthood resumed providing abortions in Wisconsin on Monday after stopping them for more than a year when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and eliminated the constitutional right to the medical procedure.
The organization began halting its services shortly after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health opinion in June 2022. The decision triggered Wisconsin’s 1849 law that providers interpreted as banning almost all abortions.
Wisconsin’s Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a suit to repeal the abortion ban. A Wisconsin judge in July ruled the law does not apply to consensual medical abortions, allowing the lawsuit to move forward.
The suit is expected to eventually reach the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which flipped to Democratic control last month for the first time in 15 years.
“The uncertainty about the enforceability of Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion law has been devastating for Wisconsin women and people across the gender spectrum who need abortion care,” Tanya Atkinson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, said last week.
Due to the July court ruling, Atkinson said the organization is “confident” to resume abortion care in Wisconsin. Services were resumed at clinics in Milwaukee and Madison on Monday, according to Atkinson.
Over the past 15 months without access to abortion care, many patients sought services in neighboring Illinois, where abortions have remained largely available. In a June statement, Planned Parenthood of Illinois said it saw a 700 percent increase in patients traveling to the state from outside of the bi-state region of Missouri and Illinois.
Women’s Medical Fund of Wisconsin, which provides financial assistance for abortion procedures and related costs, helped 477 patients from Wisconsin with abortion care outside of the state in the first six months of 2023, according to The Associated Press, which cited board president Cynthia Lin.
“There’s a lot of work still to do, even within the return of legal abortion care in Wisconsin,” Lin told the AP, noting the long distances some patients must travel to clinics in Madison or Milwaukee.
Lin also pointed to the barriers established by state laws that require patients seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound and counseling appointment before waiting 24 hours for the procedure, the AP reported.