Wisconsin doctors halt abortions following court ruling

Posted 46 days ago


MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Doctors across Wisconsin immediately stopped providing abortions on Friday, turning away women in waiting rooms and calling to cancel pending appointments following the U. S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down its Roe v. Wade decision.

The immediate halt to abortions came even as questions remained about the enforceability of a 173-year-old state ban.

Nearly 70 women had abortion procedures scheduled with Planned Parenthood Wisconsin on Friday and Saturday, the group's medical director, Kathy King, said at a news conference.

Women who were in Planned Parenthood clinics on Friday morning awaiting abortions were told that they couldn't be done in Wisconsin. Instead, they were given help with scheduling appointments in other states, said Planned Parenthood Wisconsin President Tanya Atkinson.

Atkinson said offering travel assistance and helping women upon their return to Wisconsin will now be a focus of the group.

Wisconsin has an 1849 law that bans abortion, except to save the life of the mother, but whether that law is enforceable is expected to be challenged in court. Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, said he would have news next week about how his office would respond to Friday's ruling.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, whose jurisdiction includes the state capital, Madison, said for the first time that he would not enforce the state's ban. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has previously suggested that he would not enforce it, either.

“If the voters want a district attorney who prosecutes women for seeking an abortion or licensed providers who are acting in the best interest of their patients, they will need to elect someone else,” Ozanne said.

The nonpartisan Wisconsin Legislative Council, which is comprised of attorneys who advise the Legislature, indicated in a memo that the enforceability of the state ban will likely have to be decided by a judge.

Barbara Zabawa, an attorney who specializes in health care law and serves as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s college of health sciences, said she believes Wisconsin’s abortion ban went back into effect when the Supreme Court issued its ruling, but that enforceability will be the issue.

It's understandable that local prosecutors wouldn’t enforce a law that was written more than 100 years ago, declared unconstitutional in 1973 and then reinstated, said Sara Benesh, chair... (Read more)