U.S. Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade, abortion now illegal in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. — Abortion is now illegal in Wisconsin — including in cases of rape and incest — after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, reverting the state back to a law originally passed in 1849.

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which focused on the question of whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional, Justices ruled there is no constitutional right to abortion.

The majority opinion in the case was delivered by Justice Samuel Alito, who was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Chief Justice John Roberts voted to uphold the Mississippi law in Dobbs, but did not join in overturning Roe, writing a separate opinion saying there was no need to overturn Roe in order to rule in Mississippi’s favor in the case.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were in the minority and wrote the dissent.

“With sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent,” they wrote.


The decision was widely expected after a draft version of the Court’s majority opinion leaked in May. That sparked months of rallies and protests at the Supreme Court, outside the homes of justices, and across the country — including in Madison.

Wisconsin’s 173-year-old abortion law establishes a felony charge for providers who perform abortions, making no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. The penalty for performing abortions is up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine, but increases to 15 years in prison and a $50,000 fine if the fetus is past sixteen weeks of development.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said he would not prosecute abortion providers and discourage local district attorneys and law enforcement from enforcing Wisconsin’s 1849 law if Roe v. Wade was overturned. However, Planned Parenthood, which performs many of Wisconsin’s abortions, said it would stop offering abortion services if Roe were to fall and stopped offering appointments beyond June 25.

WATCH: Breaking down key moments in Madison since Supreme Court draft opinion leaked

Over the last two months, News 3 Now has followed the story and its impact on Madison and the rest of the state of Wisconsin. You can find a timeline of events and previous coverage below.

May 2, 2022

Politico publishes a draft version of the Supreme Court opinion, signaling the Court was nearing a decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

May 3, 2022

Reaction pours in the following day, after the Supreme Court confirms the authenticity of the draft opinion that was leaked. While Republicans call for investigations into who leaked the draft opinion to Politico, Democrats begin a push to try to codify abortion protections at the state and federal levels.

Kaul says he does not want Wisconsin to enforce the law that would be on the books if Roe were overturned, but it may not matter, as Planned Parenthood says it would stop providing abortion services in Wisconsin, leaving women seeking an abortion to find their way to a different state.

In the evening, hundreds of people gathered outside the Wisconsin State Capitol to protest the leaked opinion.

May 4, 2022

Planned Parenthood Wisconsin says it plans to partner with the organization’s Illinois chapter to provide Wisconsinites access to abortions if Roe is overturned, saying it had been planning for the possibility since the day the Supreme Court took the case.

May 7, 2022

Hundreds of people gather in downtown Madison outside of the Wisconsin State Capitol as part of a “Stand Up for Abortion” rally. A small group of pro-life UW-Madison students also attended to share their views.

May 8, 2022

The Madison office of Wisconsin Family Action, a group that has lobbied against abortion and gay marriage, is vandalized and damaged in an apparent arson. Graffiti was seen outside the building and Madison police say a Molotov cocktail that failed to ignite was also thrown at the building. A separate fire at the building was also started. Gov. Tony Evers denounced the action, saying “we reject violence against any person for disagreeing with another’s view.”

May 9, 2022

Gov. Evers calls for arrests to be made in the attempted firebombing of the Wisconsin Family Action office as Madison police provide an update, saying they are working with federal authorities to try to determine who was responsible.

May 10, 2022

Authorities say they are working to confirm the authenticity of a statement issued by a group calling themselves “Jane’s Revenge,” who took responsibility for the vandalism at Wisconsin Family Action. The group claimed to have a presence across the country, and “Wisconsin is the first flash point” as they plan to target other “anti-choice” groups and establishments.

May 13, 2022

As May went on, attention shifted to where abortion would still be legal if Roe were to fall, including Illinois, which passed a law in 2019 legalizing abortion up until the point the fetus is considered viable. At that point, abortions can only be performed in Illinois if the mother’s life or health is in danger.

May 14, 2022

Another rally is held outside the Wisconsin State Capitol, this time with U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin and Gov. Evers among the speakers. About 1,500 people attended the “Bans Off Our Bodies” event organized by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin.

May 31, 2022

Wisconsin Family Action says it is offering a $1,500 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for the vandalism and arson, while also claiming law enforcement hasn’t been doing enough to find whoever was responsible. Madison police responded with a statement saying it continued to follow all leads, and investigations of that type are time-consuming and dependant on tips.

June 8, 2022

Gov. Evers calls a special legislative session to take place on June 22 to repeal the 1849 law that criminalizes abortion in Wisconsin, saying he believes every person in the state should have the right to consult their family, faith and doctor to make the choice that’s right for them. Republican leadership quickly responded, saying they had no intention of debating the measure and would immediately gavel out of the session with no action taken. Democrats responded by criticizing Republicans for being hypocritical.

June 22, 2022

Abortion access advocates hold a “pink out” inside the Wisconsin State Capitol, urging lawmakers to repeal the state’s abortion ban. The rally came before both the State Senate and Assembly quickly gaveled out of the special session called by Gov. Evers to address the law. Both sessions ended within seconds with no debate allowed.