Wisconsin's top court set to hear abortion rights case, Wisconsin Watch reports

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) - Wisconsin's highest court is expected to agree to hear a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood asking it to recognize a right to abortion in the state, news site Wisconsin Watch reported on Wednesday, citing an unpublished draft decision that it had obtained.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Annette Kingsland Ziegler in a statement said that the seven-member court was "shocked" by the leak and had asked law enforcement to open an investigation.

"We are all united behind this investigation to identify the source of the apparent leak," she said. "The seven of us condemn this breach."

The leak comes on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court briefly posted a draft order in which it appeared poised to allow abortions for medical emergencies in Idaho for now. The U.S. Supreme Court has said the posting was inadvertent and that it has not issued a decision in the case.

Wisconsin Watch also reported that the Wisconsin court, which has a 4-3 liberal majority, is expected to deny a bid by anti-abortion groups to intervene, but to allow them to file a brief opposing the lawsuit.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin filed the case in February directly with the Supreme Court. Wisconsin law allows parties to ask the court to take cases interpreting the state constitution without first going to a lower court, though the Supreme Court can turn them down.

The lawsuit argues that an 1849 law prohibiting the killing of a fetus except to save the mother's life, which Republican prosecutors in the state have interpreted as a near-total abortion ban, violates the fundamental rights to life, liberty and equal protection under the law guaranteed by the constitution.

Planned Parenthood stopped providing abortions in Wisconsin after the U.S. Supreme Court's 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health ending the nationwide right to abortion and allowing states to ban the procedure, which some prosecutors said revived the 1849 law.

It resumed providing abortions more than a year later, following a county court ruling that the law applied to feticide but not to abortions that women choose to have. That ruling, which came in a lawsuit brought by Wisconsin's Democratic Attorney General, is also on appeal to the state Supreme Court.

The court flipped to a liberal majority after an April 2023 election in which the winning candidate, Janet Protasiewicz, made abortion rights a centerpiece of her campaign.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Josie Kao)