Wisconsin prosecutor appeals ruling that cleared way for abortions to resume in state

Dec 20, 2023, 8:40 AM

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Republican district attorney has appealed a court ruling that determined that an 1849 Wisconsin law does not ban consensual abortions, a decision that cleared the way for abortions to resume in the state.

Sheboygan County District Attorney Joel Urmanski on Tuesday appealed the ruling from a Dane County judge that said there is no state ban on abortions. The appeal was expected and the case is likely to ultimately be decided by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Urmanski asked that the appeal be heard in the state’s Waukesha-based 2nd District Court of Appeals, where three of the four judges are conservative. Appeals are heard by three-judge panels.

Any appeal of a ruling there would go to the state Supreme Court, where liberals hold a 4-3 majority. The most recently elected liberal justice, Janet Protasiewicz, campaigned as a supporter of abortion rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion, led to Planned Parenthood stopping abortions in Wisconsin. The group cited the state’s 1849 law, which was widely viewed as banning the procedure.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul sued to overturn the ban, naming Urmanski in Sheboygan County and prosecutors in Dane and Milwaukee counties as defendants. Those are the counties where Planned Parenthood had clinics that offered abortions.

Dane County Circuit Judge Dianne Schlipper ruled in July that the 1849 ban doesn’t use the term “abortion” and that the law therefore only prohibits attacking a woman in an attempt to kill her unborn child. She issued her final order earlier this month, which opened the door for the appeal.

Planned Parenthood reopened clinics in Madison and Milwaukee that perform abortions soon after the July ruling. A third clinic in Sheboygan is scheduled to reopen next week.

District attorneys in all three counties where the clinics are located, including Urmanski, have said they will abide by the judge’s ruling while the case plays out.

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Wisconsin prosecutor appeals ruling that cleared way for abortions to resume in state