How the SCOTUS overturning of Roe v. Wade affects Wisconsin
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Abortion services in Wisconsin are halted and the legal future of the procedure in the state is in limbo following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling to overturn nearly half a century of precedent to protect a woman's right to an abortion.
A law from 1849 that has remained dormant for nearly five decades bans abortions in Wisconsin for all cases except to protect the life of the mother and presents doctors who perform the procedure with fines and prison time.
With the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the law is likely to return, but state leaders believe it will take time to determine that.
"I think there's strong arguments to be made that the laws that were passed subsequently to the 19th century law implying repealed it, but ultimately it's going to come down to what the courts in Wisconsin decide," Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said.
"It's important to have clarification so that everybody knows the law going forward," Marquette University Law School Professor Lisa Mazzie told CBS 58.
Mazzie added doctors in Wisconsin will not try to test the law and whether or not it will be enforced, instead waiting to see what courts determine.
What is clear is the overturning of Roe v. Wade increases health risks for people in the state.
"Carrying pregnancy to term and giving birth is 18 times riskier than having a first trimester abortion," said Jenny Higgins, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and the director of the Collaborative for Reproductive Equity at UW-Madison. "So we expect increases in maternal morbidity and mortality."
Now people seeking abortion care are left with few options.
"Some people will attempt travel out of state to get care. Illinois and Minnesota both have laws in place protecting Roe v. Wade, their clinics will continue to offer services," Higgins explained. Second, some Wisconsinites will self-manage their own abortions, and we have some evidence that some people have already been doing this to some extent. And third, a lot of Wisconsinites who want abortion services just won't be able to get them at all and will be forced to carry pregnancies to term."
Higgins added the issue will most greatly affect those with fewer resources, like minority, low-income and rural communities.
"This is a tremendous equity issue," Higgins said. "The lack of access to abortion services will most heavily affect people who are structurally disadvantaged and structurally oppressed."