Wisconsin Judge Affirms Legality of Consensual Abortions, Setting Stage for Possible Conservative Appeal

In a recent development, a Wisconsin judge has reiterated her earlier decision, confirming that state law allows for consensual medical abortions. This ruling, revisited on Tuesday, has opened up avenues for potential appeals from conservative factions.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade in June 2022 had the effect of reviving an 1849 Wisconsin law, perceived by conservatives as a prohibition on abortion. Consequently, abortion providers ceased operations, fearing legal repercussions.

Responding to the Supreme Court decision, Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul swiftly filed a lawsuit challenging the ban’s validity, contending that the statutes were antiquated and overridden by a 1985 law allowing abortions before fetuses can survive outside the womb. Three doctors joined the lawsuit, expressing concerns about potential prosecution for performing abortions.

Judge Diane Schlipper of the Dane County Circuit Court had previously ruled in July that while the ban prevented attacks on pregnant women with the intent to harm the unborn child, it did not apply to consensual medical abortions. This ruling, though not formally concluding the lawsuit, emboldened Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin to resume abortion procedures in Madison and Milwaukee in September.

Sheboygan County District Attorney Joel Urmanski, a Republican, sought a reconsideration of Judge Schlipper’s conclusion. In response, Schlipper, in a 14-page ruling issued Tuesday, maintained her stance, asserting that Urmanski failed to demonstrate any misapplication of state law and declared the plaintiffs as winners.

The legal battle is likely far from over, as this ruling provides an opportunity for conservatives to appeal. Given the magnitude of the case, it is anticipated that it may eventually reach the state Supreme Court. Currently dominated by liberal justices, the court is poised to uphold Judge Schlipper’s ruling.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin expressed confidence in the decision, stating that it expects to resume abortion procedures in Sheboygan “as soon as possible.” Attorney General Kaul hailed the ruling as a “momentous victory” for freedom, equality, and women’s health.

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