Wisconsin “evolved” from the year 1849 to 1985 on Monday.
That’s when two Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin clinics began to provide abortion care again, after holding off on doing so for the year and a half since Roe v Wade was overturned.
Wisconsin had reverted to a 174-year-old law that was interpreted to ban abortion, basically altogether — a law made before women had the right to vote.
A judge’s ruling last month, however, puts back into effect the state’s 20-week abortion law from 1985, though Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin president Tanya Atkinson, on La Crosse Talk PM, noted Monday that’s not all that great a law for women, either.
“Wisconsin has got some of the longest lists of abortion restrictions — unnecessary, politically motivated abortion restrictions — across the country,” Atkinson said.
La Crosse Talk PM airs weekdays at 5:06 p.m. Listen on the WIZM app, online here, or on 92.3 FM / 1410 AM / 106.7 FM (north of Onalaska). Find all the podcasts here or subscribe to La Crosse Talk PM wherever you get your podcasts.
Back in 2013, then-Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a requirement that abortion providers must display and describe the ultrasound image to the pregnant woman.
Having lawmakers in the doctor’s office with pregnant women is often how these restrictions are described, but just who should be in that room is up to one person.
“It’s really critical that women and their partners, their families — whoever they want to engage in making the decision, and their healthcare provider — that that be where the decision is made,” Atkinson said. “It’s a medical decision and that’s who should be having those conversations.”
State law also requires a pregnant person to visit their abortion provider for in-person counseling and then wait 24 hours before returning to get an abortion. And with only two clinics in the state providing abortions — in Milwaukee and Madison — that could be a daunting task for a woman who doesn’t live close. It could mean missing another day of work and wasting hours traveling across the state.
“As somebody who grew up in a rural part of Wisconsin, in the driftless,” Atkinson said, “even before Roe fell, accessing abortion in Wisconsin was difficult, because of the restriction and because of the travel. So, it’s a first step to resuming care and we really need to look at how we can expand access to other parts of Wisconsin.”
So, why did abortion care restart in the state? No, it’s not because voters elected a progressive justice, flipping the Supreme Court from conservative rule for the first time in 15 years.
“It doesn’t,” Atkinson said. “This is very squarely a healthcare decision that we’ve made. There’s a lot of machinations that are happening politically regarding the (Wisconsin) Supreme Court right now, in the Legislature. We can’t focus on that. We have to stay laser focused — we’re seeing the need is so great — we have to stay laser focused on patient care.