Wisconsin’s Evers proposes pathway for abortion vote

By SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, who is making abortion rights a central part of his re-election campaign, called on Wednesday for a special session of the Republican-controlled Legislature to pass a measure. creating a way for voters to repeal the state’s 1849 abortion ban.

It’s Evers’ latest move to pressure Republicans on abortion and keep the issue in the spotlight ahead of the election. Polls have repeatedly shown that a majority of Wisconsin residents support abortion rights. Evers is in a close race with Republican Tim Michels, who supports the state’s 1849 ban, which provides no exceptions for rape or incest.

Clinics in Wisconsin stopped performing abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, as a legal battle unfolds over whether the 1849 abortion ban is in effect.

In June, the legislature rejected Evers’ call for a special session to repeal the 173-year-old abortion ban. And even if it takes the unlikely step of meeting Oct. 5 to vote on Evers’ proposed constitutional amendment, the earliest it could appear on the ballot is in 2023, after the November election. It would take even longer before a voter-initiated referendum to push back the state law could be implemented.

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“Right now, today, when it comes to reproductive freedom, the will of the people is not the law of the land, but it should be, folks,” Evers told a conference. press on Capitol Hill surrounded by Democratic lawmakers.

Republican legislative leaders did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Evers noted that Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson recently expressed support for state voters to vote on adding exceptions to the state’s abortion law. Johnson, who is also re-elected in November, supports exceptions for rape and incest that do not exist in current state law.

Evers and his allies hit out at Michels for his support of the state abortion ban. Michels did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Evers’ proposal, which draws inspiration from movements in other states.

Last month, Kansas voters rejected a ballot measure that would have allowed the Republican-controlled legislature to tighten restrictions or outright ban abortion. Michigan voters will decide in November whether or not to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution.

Unlike other states, Wisconsin law does not allow voters or the legislature to place referendums on the ballot. Wisconsin law allows the Legislature to place constitutional amendments on the ballot. They must be approved in two consecutive legislative sessions and then approved by voters.

Evers’ proposed measure is not abortion-specific, but would instead allow voters to put on ballots proposals to overthrow laws passed by the Legislative Assembly and enact new laws and constitutional amendments. .

Evers is also supporting a lawsuit filed by Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul challenging the state’s 1849 abortion law.

Last week, Kaul removed key Republican lawmakers from his trial to block enforcement. He replaced them with district attorneys from Dane, Milwaukee and Sheboygan counties. This decision was intended to avoid delays in the trial.

Milwaukee, Dane, and Sheboygan counties were the only places in the state where abortions took place before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Kaul filed a lawsuit in June, just days after the court’s ruling, arguing that a 1985 law allowing abortions up to the point of fetal viability overrides a ban on almost all Wisconsin abortions. , 173 years old. The point of viability is unclear; some doctors say it’s around 20 weeks, others around 28 weeks.

The Attorney General also argues that the ban is unenforceable because it has become obsolete.

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