Planned Parenthood files lawsuit seeking to guarantee abortion rights

NOW: Planned Parenthood files lawsuit seeking to guarantee abortion rights

MADISON Wis. (CBS 58) -- Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin filed a lawsuit asking the state Supreme Court to declare the state constitution protects abortion rights.

In a petition to the court, Planned Parenthood alleges the state constitution guarantees a women's right to an abortion.

The organization argues the rights under the constitution relating to "life liberty and the pursuit of happiness" essentially includes "the right to determine what one does with one's own body, including whether and when to have a child."

"Wisconsinites deserve the ability to make decisions that shape their future to make decisions about if and when they want to become a parent, and they deserve to know this right is protected by our state constitution," said Tanya Atkinson, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.

The lawsuit is playing out against the backdrop of another abortion case that seeks to overturn the state's 1849 near-total abortion ban. In December, a Dane County judge determined that law doesn't apply to the procedure, prompting Planned Parenthood to resume abortion services.

Attorneys for Planned Parenthood said this latest filing is another step to ensure abortion rights are detailed in the state constitution.

"It would allow for people in the state to know they can get the health care they need when they need it without interference from the government," said Michelle Velasquez, Chief Strategy Officer, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin

Wisconsin Right to Life, a group that opposes abortions, responded to this latest challenge by calling it a "disregard to human life."

"It's a devastating blow and we're sad to see this," said Gracie Skogman, Legislative Director, Wisconsin Right to Life. "It is our firm belief that our state constitution protects all life and that includes the most vulnerable, including preborn life."

If the state's high court agrees to accept the case, it's likely justices could be weighing two separate abortion related lawsuits this year. This week, a Republican prosecutor asked justices to rule promptly on the case that seeks to overturn the 1849 law that outlaw's abortions.

On Tuesday, Sheboygan County District Attorney Joel Urmanski filed a petition to bypass the appeals court and asking the state Supreme Court to decide whether the 1849 law does not apply to consensual abortions.

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