Governor Evers and AG file lawsuit against Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban

MADISON, Wis. (WKBT) — On Tuesday, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit to repeal Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban. The lawsuit comes days after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

After the court’s decisions, states across the nation implemented abortion bans.

“Friday came and our worst fears came true,” said Governor Tony Evers.

In Wisconsin an 1849 abortion ban went into effect.

“Wisconsin is among the handful of states still has an archaic criminal abortion ban on the books that originated in 1849,” Evers said.

The law prohibits an abortion from the time of conception — classifying it as a Class H felony.

“It’s been on the books before the civil war, decades before women even had the right to vote and bans nearly all abortions, even those in cases of rape and incest,” Evers said.

Gov. Evers and Kaul’s the lawsuit states that in 1985, Wisconsin passed a law which prevents an abortion after the fetus reaches viability. A fetus is considered viable after 20 to 24 weeks. The lawsuit claims these two laws are in direct conflict with one another.

“There are many, many other laws that have been passed to regulate how abortion can be accessed and provided in the state of Wisconsin,” said Mike Murray, the vice resident of public relations for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.”

Kaul argues the 1985 law should have implicitly repealed the 1849 law, making it ineffective. The lawsuit states until the the 1849 ban is declared unenforceable, Wisconsinites do not have clarity about the state’s abortion laws.

“Attorney General Kaul’s litigation is absolutely right of the law and are hoping to receive that clarification in court,” Murray said.

The lawsuit also states the 1849 ban was in violation of Roe v. Wade and legislators failed to repeal it. Kaul says because Roe was a constitutional right for 50 years, the 1849 law does not have the consent of current Wisconsinites.

In the meantime- Wisconsin’s Anti-abortion groups say they will work with state lawmakers next year to update or replace the state’s 1849 abortion ban. Since the Supreme Court ruled on to strike down Roe– some Democrats and abortion rights supporters have questioned the validity of the 173-year-old law. Abortion opponents want the legislature to clarify and strengthen the ban in 2023 to completely ban surgical and medication abortions.

Click here to read Evers statement and click here to read the lawsuit.