A recent University of Wisconsin-Madison report found the number of Wisconsinites receiving abortions could drop 20% in the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June.
Wisconsin’s four remaining abortion clinics, including two in Milwaukee and one each in Madison and Sheboygan, ceased abortion procedures after the Supreme Court’s ruling in June reinstated an 1849 ban on abortions in Wisconsin. The ban allows abortions to save the life of the mother but includes no exceptions for rape or incest.
Abortion patients in some Wisconsin cities already had to travel out of state to Minnesota or Illinois for abortion care, according to UW-Madison researcher Dr. Jason Fletcher. For example, patients in La Crosse and Eau Claire are closer to abortion clinics in Minneapolis than they are to other clinics in the state of Wisconsin.
However, women that used to be able to receive abortion care in Milwaukee, Madison and Sheboygan now also need to travel out of state because of Wisconsin’s reinstated abortion ban.
Fletcher used data from abortion clinic closures in Green Bay in 2013 and Appleton in 2015 to analyze how restricted abortion access would affect Wisconsinites.
He found the need to travel out of state for abortion care will have outsized impacts on Milwaukee and Madison metro area residents. His study found the number of annual abortions among Wisconsin women could fall by 20% in Milwaukee County and 30% in Dane County.
The closures will have detrimental effects for women’s reproductive healthcare and domestic safety, according to Fletcher.
“[Wisconsin women face] a future of increased likelihood of falling into poverty, having higher likelihoods of having other financial distresses and higher likelihoods of partner instability and domestic violence,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher added that this is the first time in recent Wisconsin history that such a large group of people are going to be forced to travel to a different state to receive standard healthcare.
He urged lawmakers in Wisconsin to reflect upon their decision not to revise Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion law.
“Failure to make any changes is going to result in large groups of women having substantial reductions in their in their health care access,” Fletcher said.
He hopes voters will weigh potential effects of the abortion ban at the polls this upcoming Tuesday.
“Voters should consider the differences between different candidates and their willingness to make changes, if abortion care and access to abortion is important to [them],” Fletcher said.