GOP asks judge to toss lawsuit challenging abortion ban

August 23, 2022 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans who control the state Legislature asked a judge Tuesday to dismiss Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul’s lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s 173-year-old abortion ban.

Kaul filed the lawsuit in June after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, the landmark decision that essentially legalized abortion across the country. The ruling gave states the authority to regulate abortion on their own, putting Wisconsin’s ban back into play. The ban prohibits abortions in every instance except to save the mother’s life.

Kaul’s lawsuit argues that the ban conflicts with a 1985 Wisconsin law that allows abortions before a fetus has grown enough that it could survive outside the womb. That point in time is unclear; some physicians say it’s about 20 weeks, others around 28 weeks.

The attorney general also argues that the ban is unenforceable because it has become obsolete.

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The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board and former Democratic state Rep. Sheldeon Wasserman, who works as an obstetrician and gynecologist, have joined Kaul as plaintiffs in the case.

Senate President Chris Kapenga, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMehieu and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, all named defendants, filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court.

They argue in their motion that the statutes enacting the ban remain in effect regardless of the 1985 law, Kaul’s argument that the ban is so old it’s no longer enforceable lacks any legal foundation and that the Legislature lacks any authority to enforce the ban. They also maintain that the plaintiffs lack legal standing to sue because they’re not private citizens in fear of the ban being enforced against them.