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Wisconsin Abortion Laws

The abortion legal landscape was forever altered by the landmark 1973 U.s. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. That decision legalized abortion at the federal level. However, it left things up to the individual states to regulate the practice.

Some states have made it virtually impossible to access abortion services, while others have enacted just a few restrictions and rules. States led by anti-abortion governors and legislatures have been passing a broad array of measures over the past few years aimed at making the procedure more difficult for women to obtain. New Wisconsin abortion laws have been the subject of legal challenges beginning in 2013.

The new Wisconsin abortion law requires women to undergo an ultrasound before they get an abortion and doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics.

The latest Wisconsin abortion law prompted a federal lawsuit by two of the state's abortion providers. The providers have argued that the law fails to protect the due process and equal protection rights that women who are seeking an abortion have under the Constitution.

Wisconsin, of course, is not alone. About two dozen states have enacted similar measures in recent years.

Below is a summary of Wisconsin abortion laws. See FindLaw's Abortion section for more general information, including the history of abortion law in the U.S.

Code Section 940.04; 48.375
Statutory Definition of Illegal Abortion (1) Intentionally destroys life of unborn child; (2) causes death of mother during procedure; (3) mother intentionally destroys unborn child or consents to same; (4) mother intentionally destroys life of unborn quick child or consents to same
Statutory Definition of Legal Abortion Necessary to save life of mother or advised by two other M.D.s as necessary
Penalty for Unlawful Abortion Person other than mother performs abortion: imprisonment up to 3 years and/or fine to $5,000; mother dies or intentionally destroys life of unborn quick child: imprisonment to 15 years; mother performs or consents to abortion: imprisonment to 6 months and fine to $200; mother performs or consents to abortion on quick child: imprisonment to 2 years
Consent Requirements Informed written consent of unemancipated minor as well as informed, written consent of 1 of her parents, or an adult family member, or her guardian, unless the pregnancy is a result of sexual assault, or incest, or a physician believes the minor to be suicidal, or medical emergency, or subject to a judicial waiver
Residency Requirements for Patients -
Physician Licensing Requirements Licensed M.D., licensed maternity hospital except in medical emergency

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Wisconsin attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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