December 8, 2023

Wisconsin Court Rules Pro-Life Law Does Not Prohibit "Consensual Abortions"

On December 5, a Wisconsin circuit judge ruled that Wisconsin's 1849 law protecting the unborn from abortion “does not apply to consensual abortions but to feticide.”

The pro-life law came into effect after Roe v. Wade was repealed last summer, but it has been challenged legally since then. The law states, “any person, other than the mother, who intentionally destroys the life of an unborn child is guilty of a Class H felony.” The law contains an exception for when physicians deem an abortion necessary to save the mother's life. Otherwise, its effect is stated in fairly plain language.

Despite this, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Diane Schlipper wrote in her decision, “The court declares Wis. Stat. § 940.04 does not prohibit abortions.”

Planned Parenthood quickly announced plans to resume abortions at a clinic in Sheboygan County, where Sheboygan County District Attorney Joel Urmanski had promised to enforce the law previously.

Urmanski told CNA on December 7, “As I have previously stated, I believe that, properly interpreted, the statute at issue prohibits performing abortions (including consensual abortions) unless the exception for abortions necessary to save the life of the mother applies.”

“To be clear, I disagree with and intend to appeal the decision,” Urmanski continued. “In my view, the statute plainly applies to abortions and, while it may be that the citizens of the state of Wisconsin would be better served by a different statute, I do not believe it is my job or the role of the courts to make that determination. It is an issue for the Legislature and the governor to resolve.”