Planned Parenthood Wisconsin to resume abortion services at two locations

Wisconsin remains restricted state for abortion access despite resumption

· Sep 14, 2023 Tweet

Ella Guo

Planned Parenthood Wisconsin will restart abortion services Sept. 18 at two of its 22 Wisconsin locations, including the Madison East location, according to a release from PPWI President and CEO Tanya Atkinson Thursday morning.

The Madison East Health Center in Madison and the Water Street Health Center in Milwaukee will both resume abortion services. The locations were two of three centers in Wisconsin that provided abortion services before PPWI halted abortion services across the state. The third, a clinic in Sheboygan, is not yet ready to resume abortion services.

Directory of Legal Advocacy and Services at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Michelle Velasquez said PPWI is working toward resuming services in Sheboygan.

“It is really just logistics and availability of physicians and clinical staff,” Velasquez said. “When we were planning to resume, we really wanted to make sure we could have consistent and robust schedules to provide the most access possible. That meant focusing on our Milwaukee and our Madison Health Centers.”

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PPWI suspended abortion services in Wisconsin June 24, 2022 when U.S. Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that federally protected the right to an abortion.

After Roe was overturned, Wisconsin reverted to an 1849 criminal abortion statute that classifies the provision of an abortion as a Class H felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Velasquez said after Dobbs, many physicians and clinical staff in Wisconsin began traveling at least once a week to the Waukegan Health Center in Illinois under a partnership with Planned Parenthood Illinois.

Democratic Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit four days after the overturn of Roe, arguing the 1849 law should be rendered obsolete because it had not been in effect for over 50 years and there are more recent, less restrictive laws in Wisconsin.

Republican Sheboygan County District Attorney Joel Urmanski filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, but a Dane County Circuit Judge ruled in July that the 1849 law is not enforceable. The last brief in the lawsuit is due at the end of September, but Velasquez expects it to be appealed. She said PPWI is cognizant that there could be some changes in the lawsuit. 

“Unless or until there is a new court decision that prohibits abortion or a change in the law, we will continue to provide abortion services as long as we’re lawfully able to do so,” Velasquez said.

If PPWI had to suspend services again, Velasquez said PPWI has the infrastructure and the ability to pivot patient navigation to other states like Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan, which have remained accessible for care. 

Velasquez said PPWI is thrilled to restart abortion services, especially for those who were without access for 15 months. But she also said Wisconsin will now operate under the restrictive framework that was in place before Dobbs.

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In Wisconsin, patients are required to wait 24-hours after their first visit before receiving an abortion, they are required to see the same provider both visits and they may not use telehealth to receive abortion services, according to a brief from the Collaborative for Reproductive Equity. Some insurance, like Medicaid, does not cover abortion services.

“We recognize that we have a long way to go in Wisconsin to protect the right to abortion, to protect people’s bodily autonomy and to then expand access to care by trying to remove some of those barriers,” Velasquez said.

Schedules open Sept. 14 for patients to book appointments.


This article was published Sep 14, 2023 at 7:54 pm and last updated Sep 15, 2023 at 11:01 am


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