Go to Content Go to Navigation Go to Navigation Go to Site Search Homepage

Roe v. Wade, Wisconsin Abortion Access Q&As

What happens if Roe v. Wade is overturned?

Roe v. Wade gives people a constitutional right to an abortion. That case is still a good law. The Supreme Court opinion was a draft and is not the official decision. However, it shows that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn the constitutional protection from Roe v. Wade.  Without Roe v. Wade, Wisconsin's criminal abortion ban could go into effect.

Why do you say the criminal abortion ban could go into effect?

PPWI believes that the 172-year-old law does not automatically spring back to life, and that new statutes should continue to govern abortion access in Wisconsin. However, there are people who believe that it does automatically come back. And while there is a question about that, PPWI cannot risk the liberty of its providers and staff, who could be charged criminally for providing abortion care. Therefore, until there is clarity-either from a repeal of the criminal ban, or a court decision, PPWI would have to pause abortion services.

What does 940.15 - the 1849 criminal abortion ban - provide?

It is a felony for a physician to perform an abortion after a fetus reaches viability. This does not apply if abortion is necessary to preserve the life or health of the pregnant person as determined by their attending physician.

What is a “quick child” and will abortions before this point become illegal?

A “quick child” is the legal term for a fetus that has developed to the point where it can move inside the womb. Wisconsin law defines that point as being approximately 16-18 weeks, or the fourth month of pregnancy.

Under current law, it is a class I felony to violate Wis. Stat. 253.105, which is the medication abortion statute.  What are the penalties associated with a Class I felony? What are the penalties associated with the criminal abortion statute?

A Class I felony is punishable by up to 3 ½ years in state prison, fines up to $10,000, or both imprisonment and a fine. Wis. Stat. 940.04, the criminal abortion statute, is a class H felony. A class H felony is punishable by up to 6 years of imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000. A felony conviction is a very serious matter and can affect your rights going forward, including voting.

Would the person seeking an abortion be charged with a crime and if so, what would the penalty be in Wisconsin?

It is important to know that a pregnant person in Wisconsin who terminates their pregnancy is NOT subject to any criminal or civil liability under Wisconsin law.

What would the legislature need to do to start enforcing the criminal abortion ban?

Wisconsin's criminal abortion ban is already a statute on our books. The state legislature would not have to take any action for law enforcement or a prosecutor to try and enforce the law.

Are there any circumstances in which abortion will remain legal if the criminal abortion ban in WI goes back into effect (i.e.. Rape, incest, the life/health of the pregnant person)? 

If the criminal abortion ban goes into effect in Wisconsin, the only exception provided under that law is an abortion to save the life of the pregnant person.

Will PPWI file a lawsuit to try and stop the ban from being enforced?

Planned Parenthood’s attorneys have been and are actively evaluating all options to help ensure that abortion remains safe and legal for the people of Wisconsin. What we know from the draft opinion is that abortion access will be left to the states. As we consider all potential options, we must be mindful about who the decision-makers will be when it comes to determining long-term access to abortion in Wisconsin.

But AG Kaul has publicly stated he would not invest resources into prosecuting abortion providers, doesn't that mean you can continue providing abortions?

While PPWI commends AG Kaul's stance on access to safe and legal abortion in WI, the attorney general's office does not handle most criminal prosecutions in the state. There are 70 county district attorneys who would be free to try and enforce the criminal statute against providers. There is also a 6-year statute of limitations on felonies in Wisconsin, which means even if someone doesn't prosecute a provider now, a DA office would have 6 years to decide to prosecute. See for example WILL's memo on how a prosecutor from a county with no access might still try and charge a provider.

What abortion information will providers still be able to give patients legally (i.e.. Referrals to out of state, options to order medications)?

PPWI will assist patients in navigating the changing legal landscape in Wisconsin as well as nationally to identify the most appropriate place for safe, legal abortion care.

In what ways will PPWI providers be able to assist with miscarriages (D&C, incomplete miscarriage, etc.) without running the risk of being accused of performing an abortion?

PPWI will continue to assist with miscarriage management and in doing so providers will need to ensure that there is no longer a viable pregnancy.

In which nearby states will abortion most likely remain legal?

Abortion will remain legal in Illinois and Minnesota, and it is unlikely that will change. Michigan, which has a pre-Roe criminal ban that is similar to Wisconsin's, won a preliminary injunction, so will be able to continue providing abortion care if Roe is overturned. Their legal landscape is subject to change depending on the outcome of their ongoing litigation. Abortion will also remain legal in Iowa for the time being.

What kind of laws does IL have around abortion in terms of a waiting period, parental consent, etc.?

Illinois does not have unnecessary restrictions that impede access to care. For example, medication abortion in Illinois can be done by telemedicine, advanced nurse practitioners can give the medication and there are no waiting periods. Minors do not need parental consent or notification. (Illinois repealed their parental notification requirement and it is scheduled to sunset in June 2022).  There are no waiting periods or state-mandated counseling.

What is PPWI doing to help offset the influx of patients IL will see after the Supreme Court decision is official? Are WI abortion providers able to get licensed in neighboring states to help? Will a transportation network be established to help patients?

PPWI is working collaboratively with PPIL to ensure that their health centers are fully staffed with doctors, clinicians, and other support staff to manage and prioritize abortion patients from around the country. Any provider or clinician performing abortion care in Illinois must be licensed and credentialed in IL. Patient navigators will be able to connect patients to resources for things such as transportation or lodging as needed.

Will PPWI open a health center in IL?

The needs of the patients and communities that PPWI serve are at the center of all operational planning. PPWI has been preparing for this moment for a long time and partnering with PPIL and other regional providers to make sure that people who need access to abortion care are able to receive that care where it remains safe and legal. PPWI will continue to provide all reproductive and other healthcare services it can under the law.

Will PPWI patient support funds help patients that end up needing to receive care at non-PP facilities?

PPWI will support patients to access the care they need, regardless of whether it is a PP affiliate or an independent provider.


Contact your state legislators to tell them you support the repeal of Wisconsin’s criminal abortion ban 



Support the work of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin



Attend local gatherings and rallies 



Sign up for Action Alerts to stay on top of breaking news