Lawmakers reject governor’s special session to revisit 1849 abortion law

The 1849 law would take effect if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses Roe v Wade and puts the decision back on the states
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 6:12 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2022 at 10:51 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Abortions in Wisconsin will no longer be scheduled past Saturday. That’s according to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin after lawmakers failed to act in a special session Wednesday to overturn an abortion ban that dates back to 1849.

The special session lasted just seconds at the state Capitol. Even as supporters of Roe, dressed in pink, gathered inside the Capitol rotunda, Republicans, who hold the majority in the Legislature, gaveled in and gaveled out in defiance of Governor Evers who called the session to erase a law banning abortion that’s been on the books for 173 years.

No one really expected Republicans to act, as many called the special session a political stunt by the governor.

“The idea of calling a special session on this when the Supreme Court decision hasn’t even come down yet doesn’t make any sense, because we don’t know what that’s going to say. How would we even adapt to whatever they’re doing when we don’t know what it is?” state Rep. Dave Murphy, a Greenville Republican, said.

In Appleton there are signs on Wisconsin Avenue, outside the Planned Parenthood office, in support of abortion rights. There are also a few signs voicing opposition on a neighboring property.

As the nation braces for a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on abortion protections, it’s unclear whether those procedures will be performed legally in Wisconsin.

“If the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade, it will be a brazen political act carried out by a blatantly partisan court corrupted by appointments from a disgraced former president,” Assembly Minority Leader Rep. Greta Neubauer, a Racine Democrat, said.

Right now, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, which has three clinics that provide abortions in the state, is not scheduling the procedure beyond June 25. Instead, its staff will assist women in making appointments and traveling to places like Illinois where abortions will continue to be legal.

What happens in the long term in Wisconsin remains unclear since the only exception in the 1849 law is for the life of the mother.

“What we know for certain is that banning abortions will not stop them from happening in Wisconsin or anywhere else. What it will do is it will make abortions unsafe and put people’s lives at risk,” Rep. Neubauer said.

In a statement Thursday, the governor responded to the short session by accusing Republicans of “leaving women and families across the state behind and providing no certainty or security for accessing the reproductive health care every person deserves.”

Rep. Murphy wears a bracelet in support of Pro-Life causes. He said, “I think if you’re Pro-Life, you need to also really support foster care and adoption, because if you’re bringing these children into the world and believe that’s what has to happen then you have to make sure they have good parents.”

Some Republicans are urging the governor to have the National Guard on standby for the Roe decision and prepare for civil disobedience, noting the recent attack on a Madison Pro-Life center.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin made the announcement after lawmakers failed to act in a special session on Wisconsin's abortion law, which dates to 1849.

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