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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.

The most recent Wisconsin abortion laws have been the subject of legal challenges beginning in 2013.

Supreme Court Decision: Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt  

One of Wisconsin's more restrictive laws required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics. This law was put on hold pending court decisions. On June 27, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a similar restriction in Texas (Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt). The Court's ruling will likely affect the Wisconsin law as well.

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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