Abortion in Wisconsin

Current Abortion Laws

Ban After 21 Weeks, 6 Days

Abortion in Wisconsin is banned after 21 weeks, 6 days of pregnancy, with limited exceptions. This ban has been in effect since 1985. Abortions may be performed after 21 weeks, 6 days only to save the pregnant person’s life or preserve their physical health.

Many abortion providers in Wisconsin stop performing abortions earlier than 21 weeks, 6 days due to concerns over legal restrictions and access to hospitals willing to provide emergency care in case of complications. As a result, abortion access after the first trimester is extremely limited.

Waiting Period

Wisconsin also enforces a 24-hour waiting period for abortions. This requires anyone seeking an abortion to have an initial in-person counseling session and then wait at least 24 hours before they can return to receive care.

The waiting period can be waived if a physician determines that the pregnant person’s life or physical health is seriously threatened by a physical disorder, illness, or injury.

Parental Consent for Minors

In Wisconsin, if you are under 18 years old, you must obtain consent from a parent or legal guardian before you can receive an abortion. There are no exceptions for cases of rape, incest, or abusive parents.

However, minors do have the option to petition the court for a “judicial bypass.” This allows a judge to give permission for an abortion instead of a parent or guardian. The process typically takes about two weeks.

Impact of Laws

Access to Abortion Care

Wisconsin’s abortion restrictions severely limit access to care:

Availability of Providers

There are only a few abortion clinics left in Wisconsin. As of 2022, there are three Planned Parenthood centers and one independent clinic, Affiliated Medical Services in Milwaukee, that offer abortion services.

With few providers statewide, patients must travel long distances for appointments. This creates obstacles in terms of transportation, taking time off work, childcare, and other logistics.

Difficulties Getting Appointments

The limited number of abortion clinics also means long wait times for appointments. Many providers have wait lists that stretch out weeks or months. This forces patients seeking abortions earlier in pregnancy to delay their procedures.

As more states restrict abortion, clinics in Wisconsin are seeing increasing numbers of out-of-state patients. This further taxes the overburdened system.

See also  Abortion in Iowa

Travel Out of State

Because abortion access is so limited in Wisconsin, many pregnant people travel across state lines to obtain care. States like Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan have less-restrictive abortion laws than Wisconsin.

Enforcement of Pre-Roe Ban

In 1849, Wisconsin passed an abortion ban that completely prohibited the procedure except to save the pregnant person’s life. This law was unenforceable after Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973.

However, following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe in 2022, officials in Wisconsin have discussed renewing enforcement of the 1849 ban.

Trigger Laws

Some states had “trigger laws” designed to outlaw most or all abortions if Roe fell. However, Wisconsin does not have an abortion ban “trigger law.”

Still, the state’s 173-year-old law raises questions about the criminalization of abortion. Legal experts expect court battles over whether the 1849 law should take effect.

Legal Challenges

If Wisconsin attempts to enforce its 19th-century abortion restrictions, reproductive rights advocates plan to immediately challenge the law in state courts. They argue the old statutory language is too vague to be constitutional.

Support and Resources

While abortion remains legal in Wisconsin, the state still places numerous restrictions and barriers to accessing care. However, resources exist to help patients overcome these obstacles:

Judicial Bypass for Minors

Minors who cannot obtain parental consent for an abortion can apply for a judicial bypass. This involves petitioning a judge for permission to move forward with an abortion without notifying parents or guardians.


The minor must establish one of the following:

  • Obtaining an abortion without parental consent is in their best interest
  • They are mature enough to make the abortion decision independently
  • Notifying a parent or guardian would not be in their best interest


To start the judicial bypass process, contact a lawyer, visit a family planning clinic like Planned Parenthood, or call the JB Helpline at 844-868-2812. The minor will have a hearing with a judge, often within 48 hours. The judge then decides whether to issue a court order authorizing the abortion without parental involvement.

Financial Assistance

The cost of an abortion ranges from $450-$950 depending on the stage of pregnancy. This does not include additional expenses like travel and lodging. Many patients struggle to pay these costs out-of-pocket. Financial assistance is available from the following sources:

See also  Abortion in Michigan

National Abortion Federation Hotline

The NAF Hotline (1-800-772-9100) provides referrals to abortion funds that offer financial aid and practical support. Counselors also help callers navigate judicial bypass procedures if needed.

Abortion Funds

There are local, regional, and national funds that provide financial assistance for abortion care. Find a list of funds here. Examples in Wisconsin include the Women’s Medical Fund and Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project.

Practical Support

In addition to financial assistance, some abortion funds and practical support organizations help with:


  • Rides to clinics
  • Gas cards
  • Bus tickets
  • Airline vouchers


  • Reimbursing expenses for babysitters or childcare
  • Connecting patients to vetted, abortion-friendly caregivers


  • Help booking hotel rooms or short-term housing

Reproductive rights coalitions like We Testify and Midwest Access Coalition offer practical support too.

The Future of Abortion Access in Wisconsin

Wisconsin has implemented abortion restrictions for decades, but the fall of Roe v. Wade marks a new era in terms of access. What happens next remains uncertain.

Responses to Restrictions

As Wisconsin continues upholding limits like mandatory waiting periods and gestational age bans, abortion rights activists are mobilizing to help patients overcome barriers. There will likely be increased efforts around abortion storytelling, political advocacy, voter engagement, judicial bypass assistance, abortion funding networks, and transportation coordination.

Reproductive justice organizations also aim to meet broader needs around contraception access, comprehensive sex education, domestic violence services, affordable childcare, paid family leave, and more. They take a holistic approach to supporting bodily autonomy.

Ongoing Legal Battles

The future legality of abortion access in Wisconsin depends significantly on the outcome of expected court fights. If the state tries reviving its 19th century near-total abortion ban, lawsuits will immediately follow. Attorneys for abortion providers argue the 173-year-old statute raises due process concerns and should have no legal bearing in the modern era.

Ultimately, both supporters and opponents of abortion access predict a long, state-by-state battle to come over the right to abortion care. For now, the procedure remains legal in Wisconsin up to 21 weeks, 6 days of pregnancy, albeit with substantial restrictions. Patients must navigate limited providers, waiting periods, parental consent laws, and other obstacles that disadvantage marginalized communities. The road ahead looks arduous, but many organizations stand ready to offer guidance and support along the way.

See also  Abortion in Ohio


Abortion is currently legal in Wisconsin up to 21 weeks, 6 days of pregnancy. However, patients face mandatory waiting periods, gestational bans, fewer clinics, and potential renewed efforts to enforce a 173-year-old abortion ban. Resources like financial aid, judicial bypass assistance, and practical support exist, but significant barriers remain. With the fall of Roe v. Wade, Wisconsin is poised for an intensifying legal fight over abortion access in the months and years ahead.


What are some resources for pregnant minors seeking abortions in Wisconsin?

Minors in Wisconsin can receive judicial bypass assistance from If/When/How’s Judicial Bypass Helpline at 844-868-2812. They may also contact Planned Parenthood or other reproductive healthcare clinics for information on navigating the judicial bypass process to obtain an abortion without parental consent.

Where can I find financial assistance for an abortion in Wisconsin?

Call the National Abortion Federation Hotline (1-800-772-9100) for referrals to local abortion funds offering financial aid. Examples of Wisconsin abortion funds include the Women’s Medical Fund and WRAP.

How far along can I be to get an abortion in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin bans abortions after 21 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy, except for rare exceptions to save the pregnant patient’s life or physical health. Many providers also stop performing abortions prior to 21 weeks and 6 days due to other laws and hospital requirements in Wisconsin.

Can Wisconsin start enforcing its 19th century abortion ban?

It remains unclear whether Wisconsin officials will attempt to enforce the state’s 173-year-old abortion ban that only provided a life exception. Any effort to do so would lead to immediate legal challenges arguing that such an outdated law violates modern understandings of due process and bodily autonomy. The dispute could take years to resolve.

What practical support is available for accessing abortions in Wisconsin?

Some organizations help Wisconsin abortion patients with rides to clinics, lodging, childcare, gas cards, bus tickets, and other travel and logistical needs related to obtaining an abortion. Check abortion fund websites for details on practical support offerings.

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