MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s Democratic attorney general has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the state’s 173-year-old ban on abortions.

Wisconsin adopted statutes in 1849 banning doctors from performing abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger. The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe vs. Wade decision invalidated the ban but the court’s decision this Friday to reverse Roe vs. Wade has created questions about whether the ban is in effect.

Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit in Dane County court Tuesday arguing that a 1985 law that allows abortions up to the point of a fetus’ viability supersedes the 1849 ban.

We will never stop fighting to ensure every Wisconsinite has the right to consult their family, their faith, and their doctor and make the reproductive healthcare decision that is right for them – a decision that should be made without interference from politicians or members of the Supreme Court who don’t know anything about their life circumstnaces, values, or responsibilities.

Governor Tony Evers

Access to safe and legal abortion stopped in Wisconsin last Friday. With this lawsuit, we are fighting to restore reproductive freedom in Wisconsin.

Attorney General Josh Kaul

The lawsuit argues that Wisconsin state statutes contain two sets of criminal laws that conflict with each other if both are applied to abortion.

Planned Parenthood President and CEO Tanya Atkinson and other Planned Parenthood leaders applaud the Attorney General’s announcement and go on to say, “The harm from this 173-year-old law is already being felt by the patients for whom PPWI provides care. Patients are being denied the care they want and need simply because our Supreme Court and state Legislature have refused to consider their health and wellbeing.”

He says that means abortions are still legal in Wisconsin before that point in a pregnancy.

While Evers and Kaul made their comments, Wisconsin Right to Life condemned what the two had said and issued statements of their own.

This afternoon, with representatives from Planned Parenthood in attendance, Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul announced a lawsuit to challenge the enforceability of Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban, state statute 940.04

The challenge calls for clarification, and argues that the pro-life laws passed since 1849 supersede the 1849 ban and therefore make it unenforceable. The suit argues that because the only exception in the 1849 law is for the life of the mother, it is in direct contradiction to more recent laws like the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which established a ban on Wisconsin abortions past the 20th week of pregnancy in 2015.

Heather Weininger, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life, stated, “We are disappointed, but not surprised to see that our top elected officials refuse to do their jobs and enforce the laws on our books. Rest assured, we’ll continue to work with the state Senate and Assembly to fight this lawsuit, and no matter what, we’ll continue our daily work of protecting mothers and babies throughout Wisconsin.”

Gracie Skogman, Wisconsin Right to Life’s legislative/PAC director, added, “We hope that the court upholds our current statute. But this challenge only intensifies the need to elect new leaders in our state who won’t actively fight against protecting our preborn citizens and their mothers. We are ready to elect a new, pro-life governor and attorney general this fall.”  

Press Release sent by Wisconsin Right to Life