Wisconsin abortion rights likely unaffected by executive order, both sides unhappy

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The President's executive order is just the latest step in the ongoing battle over abortion rights at the federal and state levels. Pro-life groups denounced the President's move, while pro-choice groups lamented it probably won't have much impact in Wisconsin.

The executive order calls for some protections for people seeking abortions, but it does not restore abortion itself in Wisconsin.

President Biden said Friday, "This is a moment, the moment, a moment to restore the rights that have been taken away from us."

But the measures will not restore abortion rights here. Professor Lisa Mazzie, of the Marquette University School of Law, said, "The executive order doesn't change anything in Wisconsin, insofar as access. Abortion is still illegal in this state."

Among the issues the executive order calls for is protecting access to contraception, protecting data privacy and protecting access to abortion drugs.

Mazzie said, "It does look to ensure emergency medical access."

But interestingly, both sides of the abortion debate in Wisconsin are unsatisfied with the executive order.

Gracie Skogman, Legislative Director for Wisconsin Right to Life, said, "Ultimately this is still something that we see negatively because it's continuing the push towards medication abortions that women receive through the mail."

Since the executive order cannot restore abortion, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin took aim at state Republicans, saying in a statement: "Every day that legislative Republicans choose inaction is another day where they are making the choice to deny essential abortion care to women."

And so in the short-term Wisconsin is in a holding pattern. Women can cross state lines to get an abortion, but the procedure remains illegal for now.

Legal experts worry about a possible yoyo effect. Mazzie said, "Let's say at the trial court level the Attorney General is successful and procedures can go forward in the state. But then let's say another level court then rolls that back."

The state filed a lawsuit last week claiming the 1849 abortion law is unenforceable. Defendants usually get 20 days to respond, meaning it may be a few more weeks before a decision is announced.

But 20 days could be a critical amount of time for women waiting to learn the fate of their reproductive rights.

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