Physicians say Women’s Health Protection Act would protect patients’ health from state bans as Supreme Court threatens Roe v. Wade

MADISON – Physicians today blasted U.S. Senator Ron Johnson for voting against the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have protected the federal right to access abortion care. The necessary and long-overdue legislation was voted on as the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case guaranteeing the constitutional right to abortion. With Senator Johnson’s opposition vote, Republicans in the Senate defeated the bill, which had been passed in the U.S. House of Representatives already.

“By voting against the Women’s Health Protection Act, Sen. Ron Johnson is opening the door for political interference in the private health care decisions between a doctor and patient, and putting patients’ health and even their lives at risk,” said Dr. Madelaine Tully, Milwaukee family physician and member of the Committee to Protect Health Care. “Abortion is a part of health care, and rejecting the Women’s Health Protection Act means tens of millions of Americans may soon face even steeper barriers to the health care they need to live their lives. The Women’s Health Protection Act would ensure doctors can continue to do our jobs and trust our patients to know what is best for their health and safety. Sen. Johnson’s vote takes aways patient’s freedom and autonomy over their own bodies.”

If the Supreme Court does indeed strike down Roe v. Wade in its final decision, an 1849 Wisconsin law still on the books criminalizing nearly all abortions could be enforced again. By protecting the legal right and expanding access to abortion care, WHPA would override this and any other federal or state restrictions and bans on abortion. WHPA would guarantee access to abortion care even if the Supreme Court strikes down or weakens Roe v. Wade in its pending ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

“All people deserve equal access to abortion care, regardless of their circumstances, zip codes, or incomes, and the Women’s Health Protection Act would safeguard against the discriminatory and dangerous attempts to ban abortion at the federal and state levels,” said Dr. Jill Cousino, a Janesville OB/GYN and CTP member. “Sen. Ron Johnson is playing politics with people’s lives by blocking personal medical decisions and ignoring the fact that pregnancy can be extremely dangerous, especially to those who already face barriers to health care. As physicians, we are alarmed at Sen. Johnson’s willingness to force Wisconsinites to travel to other states to seek care, and effectively force many others to carry pregnancies against their wishes and against the best interests of their health and wellbeing.”

A leaked draft of the Supreme Court’s decision, while not yet legally binding, indicated that the court intends to overturn Roe v. Wade. Wisconsin is one of 10 states with pre-existing laws to ban abortion that could once again be enforced without federal protections.

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