Clashes outside a closed Wisconsin abortion clinic paint a unraveling US

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Abortion rights and anti-abortion activists – Alex Wong/Getty Images

The scene outside the Affiliated Medical Services abortion clinic in Milwaukee, Wis., is as vivid a portrait of an unraveling US as it gets.

Two police officers stand outside the clinic, hoping to prevent further skirmishes between its staff and the group of pro-life activists standing outside.

Armed with signs of bloodied babies, some sing hymns, others sing “it’s a day for victory” while pacing outside.

Their victory is printed in black and white on the clinic’s door, where a sign reads: ‘Due to the recent Supreme Court ruling, Affiliated Medical Services are no longer able to provide abortion care services “.

The Supreme Court decision to revoke nationwide abortion rights and leaving the matter to each state brought an abrupt end to abortion services in Wisconsin.

It is one of 13 states that have introduced “trigger laws,” meaning near-total bans on abortion have gone into effect.

Nine other states are expected to adopt similar restrictions within weeks, leaving about half of American women without access to abortion.

Abortion rights supporters - Harm Venhuizen/AP

Abortion rights supporters – Harm Venhuizen/AP

In the Wisconsin case, the Supreme Court ruling reinstated an 1849 law that made abortion a felony punishable by six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 (£8,000). .

Procedures to save a woman’s life are permitted, but there are no exceptions for rape or incest.

Democratic Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said he would not enforce the abortion ban for 173 years.

But with local law enforcement now armed with the power to prosecute abortion providers, none feel capable of continuing to operate.

As news of the Supreme Court ruling broke on Friday, AMS was one of many women’s clinics to immediately suspend abortion services.

But with local law enforcement now armed with the power to prosecute abortion providers, none feel capable of continuing to operate.

When the Supreme Court decision was announced, Affiliated Medical Services (AMS) was one of several women’s clinics in Wisconsin to immediately suspend abortion services.

angry protesters

On Friday, hundreds of angry protesters lined nearby streets, shouting “abortion bans must go” and “we’re not going back”.

But on Saturday morning, it was pro-life activists who were the most visible presence on the city streets.

As pro-life activists celebrated, some holding up posters praising God, passing motorists sometimes rolled up their windows to shout profanities in their direction.

One activist, a nonprofit worker in her 30s, said she started wearing a body camera following the Supreme Court’s ruling for fear of being attacked by protesters across the border. debate.

Timothy Bachleitner, 43, sang jubilantly as he marched past AMS on Saturday.

Mr Bachleitner, accompanied by two of his nine children, said he had been protesting outside AMS and other abortion clinics for 13 years.

“But today was a bit of a victory celebration,” he said. “After 49 years and five months, the Supreme Court has rendered the

“But today was a bit of a victory celebration,” he said. “After 49 years and five months, the Supreme Court made the right decision and knocked down Roe against Wade [the landmark 1973 ruling granting nationwide abortion rights].”

Family Planning Clinic - Tannen Maury/Shutterstock

Family Planning Clinic – Tannen Maury/Shutterstock

As he was talking to The telegraphanother man walking by shouted, “The Supreme Court has no balls.”

Just three miles away, a Planned Parenthood clinic appeared completely closed, with its doors locked and the lights turned off inside.

Nearly 70 abortion procedures with Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin scheduled for Friday and Saturday had to be canceled, the agency’s medical director Kathy King said.

“Today our daughters have fewer rights than their mothers, fewer rights than their grandmothers,” said Tanya Atkinson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.

“This is absolutely unacceptable. People should be able to make their own health care decisions, it shouldn’t be political.”

Sworn to continue

Despite Wisconsin’s ban, abortion providers in the state have pledged to continue their work.

Although they cannot perform abortions themselves, they plan to help women travel to neighboring states of Wisconsin – Illinois and Minnesota – where abortions are still legal.

Lucy Marshall, president of the Women’s Medical Fund (WMF) in Madison, said her group has begun partnering with clinics in both states to provide financial assistance to women traveling out of state.

“WMF has been here since before Roe v Wade and we have been here after. We’re not going anywhere,” she said.

Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers hopes to translate anger over the Supreme Court’s decision into Democratic votes in the November midterm election cycle.

“You can’t ignore the fact that we now have politicians making decisions for women and their health care,” Evers said. “So we’ll talk about it a lot.”

Wisconsin is a critical battleground that Joe Biden won by less than a percentage point in the 2020 presidential election, and a priority for Democrats in this year’s statewide races.

Mr. Evers, who narrowly won the governorship for four years, hopes his bid to restore access to abortion in the state will help him win a second term.

“Anytime you take half the people of Wisconsin and make them second-class citizens, I have to believe there’s going to be a reaction to that,” he said.

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