Wisconsin Supreme Court Signals Potential Consideration of Abortion Rights Case

Wisconsin Supreme Court may recognize constitutional right to bodily autonomy, including abortion, as legal setbacks in Arizona and Florida threaten reproductive rights globally.

Aqsa Younas Rana
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Wisconsin Supreme Court Signals Potential Consideration of Abortion Rights Case

Wisconsin Supreme Court Signals Potential Consideration of Abortion Rights Case

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ordered parties named in a Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin lawsuit to file responses by April 26, indicating the court may consider the organization's petition to recognize a constitutional right to bodily autonomy, including abortion. Planned Parenthood argues that the rights declared by the state Constitution inherently include the right to determine what one does with one's own body, including whether and when to have a child. The organization is also asking the court to recognize a right for physicians to provide abortions.

The case was filed against District Attorneys in three Wisconsin counties where abortions are provided. Planned Parenthood's filing came days after a Dane County judge declared an 1849 law outlawing abortion does not apply to consensual procedures. The court now has a 4-3 liberal majority, and Attorney General Josh Kaul and Gov. Tony Evers, both Democrats, filed a lawsuit shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. Wisconsin Right to Life has called Planned Parenthood's move a 'radical action' that demonstrates their 'disregard for human life.'

Why this matters: The Wisconsin Supreme Court's potential consideration of this case could have significant implications for abortion rights in the state. The court's decision may set a precedent for recognizing a constitutional right to bodily autonomy and abortion access in Wisconsin.

The article also discusses the recent setbacks in women's reproductive health globally, focusing on legal developments in Arizona and Florida. In Arizona, the state Supreme Court upheld an 1864 law that will effectively ban all abortion, with a narrow exception for abortions necessary to protect the life of the pregnant person. This decision will end all access to non-emergency abortion care in Arizona, though abortion advocates are collecting signatures for a ballot measure to amend the state's constitution to protect abortions through fetal viability.

In Florida, the state Supreme Court upheld a 15-week abortion ban, which triggered additional restrictions, including a six-week ban and an in-person requirement for abortions. A ballot measure proposing to modify the Florida state constitution to broadly protect abortion rights before viability or when necessary to protect the patient's health will appear on the ballot in November 2024.

These legal developments in Arizona and Florida represent significant setbacks for women's reproductive health and access to abortion care in these states. The communities most impacted by these restrictions are those who are undocumented, live in rural areas with limited resources, are immigrants facing language barriers, and are low-income individuals facing intersecting issues.

The 2024 State of World Population report by UNFPA highlights that despite global gains in sexual and reproductive health and rights over the last 30 years, millions of women and girls have not benefited due to factors like racism, sexism, and discrimination. The report shows that women and girls who are poor, belong to minority groups, or are in conflict settings are more likely to die due to lack of access to timely healthcare. Progress is slowing or stalling on key measures like maternal mortality and women's bodily autonomy.

UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem states that the female body is increasingly used as a political battleground, with 40% of countries with data seeing a rollback on women's rights to decide what to do with their own bodies. Kanem emphasizes the need to prioritize and value women's rights, particularly their reproductive rights, and to reach the most marginalized women. The report calls for customized solutions and an additional $79 billion investment in low- and middle-income countries by 2030 to avert 400 million unplanned pregnancies, save 1 million lives, and generate $660 billion in economic benefits.

Key Takeaways

  • WI Supreme Court may consider Planned Parenthood's lawsuit to recognize bodily autonomy
  • AZ Supreme Court upheld 1864 law banning abortion, FL upheld 15-week ban
  • Marginalized women disproportionately impacted by reproductive health restrictions
  • UNFPA report shows global progress on sexual/reproductive rights has stalled
  • UNFPA calls for $79B investment to avert 400M unplanned pregnancies by 2030