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Roe v. Wade and Wisconsin Abortion Access Q&As

How does Wisconsin's 1849 criminal abortion ban work?

Wisconsin's criminal abortion ban (section 940.04 of the Wisconsin statutes) makes it a felony for a anyone, other than the pregnant person, to provide an abortion . This 173 year old law effectively bans abortion in Wisconsin at any point in pregnancy with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the pregnant person. The narrow exception to this criminal abortion ban. The law does not apply if an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant person as determined by their attending physician. The law also does not apply to a pregnant person for accessing abortion care or for performing a self-managed abortion.

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

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.

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.

But Attorney General Josh Kaul and some other local district attorneys have publicly stated they would not invest resources into prosecuting abortion providers. Doesn't that mean you can continue providing abortions?

While PPWI commends AG Kaul's and these other district attorneys' stances on access to safe and legal abortion in WI, there are 70 total county district attorneys in the state of Wisconsin, each of whom could 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 district attorney would have 6 years to decide to prosecute. 

How can we restore access to abortion care in Wisconsin?

The most direct and responsible way to restore access to abortion care in Wisconsin would be for the Legislature to pass the Abortion Rights Preservation Act, which would repeal Wisconsin's criminal abortion ban. If the Legislature repealed the ban, PPPWI and other abortion care providers could immediately resume providing abortion care. 

The other way to restore access would be either for a state or federal court to rule that Wisconsin's criminal abortion ban is not enforceable. AG Kaul and Governor Evers are currently challenging the enforceability of the law in state court, and that litigation is still in the early stages and the court has not yet ruled on whether the law is enforceable.

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. Click HERE for more information regarding abortion resources in Wisconsin.

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. In Michigan, voters were successful in passing a constitutional amendment adding the right to abortion and contraceptive to Michigan's constitution which took effect in December of 2022. Abortion also remains 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.)  There are no waiting periods or state-mandated counseling.

What is PPWI doing to help offset the influx of patients IL is seeing? 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 staffed with doctors, clinicians, and other support staff to manage and prioritize abortion patients from around the country. Members of PPWI's Abortion Services Staff, including licensed clinicians, travel to Illinois to help provide abortion care. 

Will PPWI open a health center in IL? 

The needs of the patients and communities that PPWI serve are central to all of PPWI's 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. For more information, click HERE.

What can people do to support abortion access in Wisconsin?

ACT by contacting your state legislators to tell them you support the repeal of Wisconsin’s criminal abortion ban HERE

DONATE to support the work of PPAWI HERE

PARTICIPATE in local gatherings and rallies HERE

JOIN action alerts to stay on top of breaking news HERE


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



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