MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Planned Parenthood resumed offering abortion services in Wisconsin on Monday after stopping them for more than a year since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade had picked up.
Providers across the state stopped offering abortions after the June 2022 decision, fearing enforcement of an 1849 state law that appears to ban the procedure but was previously struck down by the 1973 Roe ruling. A judge ruled last month that the 144-year-old law does not apply to medical abortions.
In light of the ruling, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin began offering abortions again at clinics in Madison and Milwaukee on Monday.
The group did not specify how many abortions it expected to perform, but said appointments at its Milwaukee clinic were fully filled Monday within 24 hours of announcing the resumption of services.
Unable to access abortion care in Wisconsin for the past 15 months, many patients sought care in neighboring Illinois, where abortion remains widespread. Planned Parenthood of Illinois says the number of Wisconsin patients at its clinics has increased sevenfold since the Supreme Court overturned Roe.
The Women’s Medical Fund of Wisconsin, which provides financial assistance for abortion procedures and related costs, helped 477 Wisconsin patients obtain abortions out of state in the first six months of 2023, according to CEO Cynthia Lin. Most of those appointments were in Minnesota or Illinois, she said.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, even in terms of bringing back legal abortion care in Wisconsin,” Lin said Monday, noting the long distances many patients still have to travel to reach clinics in Madison or Milwaukee. Lin also pointed to obstacles created by state laws that require people seeking an abortion in Wisconsin to undergo an ultrasound and a consultation before waiting 24 hours for the procedure.
The lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s 1849 law was filed by the state’s Democratic attorney general and is expected to end up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which fell 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 vowed to continue fighting in court to outlaw the procedure.