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Wisconsin judge upholds earlier ruling that state law permits abortions

Wisconsin judge upholds earlier ruling that state law permits abortions
Wisconsin judge upholds earlier ruling that state law permits abortions 00:42

CHICAGO (CBS/AP) -- Democrats in Wisconsin are applauding a court ruling allowing abortions to resume in the state.

Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v Wade reactivated a 1849 Wisconsin law that conservatives interpreted as banning abortion. Abortion providers in Wisconsin shut down out of fear of violating the ban.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit days after Roe v Wade was struck down, arguing the Wisconsin law was too old to enforce, and a separate 1985 law permitting abortions before fetuses can survive outside the womb trump the ban. Three doctors later joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs, saying they fear being prosecuted for performing abortions.

In July, Dane County Circuit Judge Diane Schlipper ruled the law prohibits someone from attacking a woman in an attempt to kill her unborn child but doesn't apply to consensual medical abortions. The ruling prompted Planned Parenthood to resume its abortion practice in Milwaukee and Madison in September for the first time since Roe v Wade was struck down.

Joel Urmanski, the Republican district attorney in Sheboygan County, where Planned Parenthood's third abortion clinic is located, had asked Schlipper to reconsider her the ruling.

Schlipper refused in a 14-page opinion issued Tuesday, writing that Urmanski failed to show how she misapplied state law or made any other mistake and declared that the plaintiffs had won the suit.

She declined the doctors' request, however, to issue an injunction prohibiting prosecutors from charging abortion providers. Prosecutors in Dane, Milwaukee and Sheboygan County have said they would abide by her ruling that state law permits consensual abortions, she noted.

"This is a major win for reproductive freedom in Wisconsin, and we are prepared to defend that victory in reproductive freedom as we move forward," Kaul said.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin said in a statement Tuesday that it expects to resume abortion procedures at its facility in Sheboygan "as soon as possible."

Anti-abortion groups are expected to appeal Schlipper's ruling.

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