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Wisconsin Abortion-Rights Group Offers Free Night Stay To Women Who Want Abortion

Program Is A Response To Clinic Closings, 24-Hour Waiting Period


The Wisconsin chapter of the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice has launched a new program to provide housing for women who have to travel long distances to have abortions in Madison.

Last month, an abortion clinic in Appleton closed due to staff shortages. That leaves only three clinics in the state — two in Milwaukee and one in Madison. Wisconsin law requires women to wait 24 hours between counseling and having an abortion.

NARAL Pro-Choice spokeswoman Jessica VanEgeren said now women traveling from counties in northern Wisconsin might have to take two trips at a cost that many can’t afford.

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“This program provides them a free place to stay and hopefully, will make the process of getting an abortion a little bit less stressful,” she said.

VanEgeren said several women have already signed up to open their homes. She said volunteers will be screened to ensure anti-abortion activists don’t use the program to try to dissuade women from having an abortion.

“We’ve taken what I believe to be all the proper precautions that nothing like that happens,” she said.

VanEgeren said this is the first time since the 1970s that abortion rights groups have organized a safe housing initiative to serve the needs of women who have to travel long distances to obtain abortions.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit challenging a state law that would require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals is pending before the federal appeals court in Chicago. If the law is upheld, it could force the closure of more abortions clinics in the state.

During oral arguments in the case last month, Judge Richard Posner said he believed the law was designed to close down abortion clinics and not as its proponents claim to protect women’s health. If the appeals court strikes down the law, it will likely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.