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Judge strikes down Wisconsin abortion law

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(The Center Square) – A judge says Wisconsin’s near total ban on abortions does not apply to consensual abortions.

Dane County Judge Diane Schlipper late Tuesday ruled the 1849 law that bans almost all abortions in the state only applies to people who intentionally kill a baby, what she called feticide.

Schlipper said the law does not apply when a woman agrees to end her pregnancy.

“The Court declares Wis. Stat. § 940.04 does not prohibit abortions,” she wrote.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin said the ruling is “another important step forward in restoring and expanding access to abortion in Wisconsin.”

“Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin will continue to provide abortion care services at our Water Street Health Center in Milwaukee and our Madison East Health Center and will resume abortion services at our Sheboygan health center as soon as possible,” Planned Parenthood’s Michelle Velasquez said. “While we celebrate this ruling, there is more to be done. We will continue essential work to help protect and expand reproductive freedom in Wisconsin so that everyone who needs comprehensive reproductive health care in our state can get the nonjudgmental and compassionate care they deserve.”

Pro-life groups say the ruling is a step backward.

“To rule that all of [the state’s abortion law] has nothing to do with a consensual, medically induced abortion defies the plain wording and meaning of the statute. It is an extraordinary leap in logic. Judge Schlipper misinterpreted a 1994 Wisconsin Supreme Court case to make her erroneous conclusion,” Pro-Life Wisconsin Legislative Director Matt Sande said. “After all, the statute itself is entitled ‘Abortion.’ It makes an exception for a ‘therapeutic abortion’ to ‘save the life of the mother’ that is ‘performed by a physician’ and ‘(u)nless an emergency prevents, is performed in a licensed maternity hospital.’ It is our hope that this misguided ruling will be promptly appealed.”

Wisconsin Right to Life’s Heather Weininger agreed.

“The ruling is truly disappointing for all Wisconsinites. A law that was enforced before the flawed decision of Roe is now one that pro-choice activists on the court are willing to use as a tool for their cause. Instead of providing true support for women and families in this post-Dobbs landscape, they are putting lives on the line,” Weininger said.

It is unclear if there will be an appeal in the case.

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