Tony Evers joined 16 other Dem guvs in calling on congressional leaders to approve federal protections for abortion access with the U.S. Supreme Court appearing poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Meanwhile, Dem AG Josh Kaul again said he won’t expend Department of Justice resources to enforce Wisconsin’s 1849 ban on abortion, prompting criticism from two of his GOP challengers.
Reactions continued to pour in Tuesday over a draft decision that leaked late Monday showing the court had voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, particularly after the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed it was authentic. The court statement said the draft “does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.” Meanwhile, Chief Justice John Roberts said he has directed the court marshal to launch an investigation into the source of the leak and vowed it wouldn’t affect the court’s work “in any way.”
The letter from the 17 guvs urged Congress to pass the Women’s Health Care Protection Act, which would supersede state restrictions on abortion. It would enshrine in federal law the right to an abortion and guarantee providers the ability to provide services “prior to fetal viability.” Critics say it would go too far.
The bill passed the House in September, and Dems have vowed to take it up in the Senate. But that vote is expected to be symbolic because supporters lack the 60 votes that would be needed to overcome a filibuster.
“Overturning Roe will turn back the clock on reproductive health, and Congress must immediately take action to ensure that our nation does not go backward and that the rights of all Americans to access reproductive healthcare and abortion continue to be protected,” the guvs wrote.
Meanwhile, Dem state Sen. Brad Pfaff, who’s running for the 3rd CD, urged Evers to call a special legislative session on abortion rights.
Wisconsin has criminalized abortion since 1849, but that ban hasn’t been enforced since Roe v. Wade was handed down. Under the ban, “any person, other than the mother, who intentionally destroys the life of an unborn child” would be guilty of a Class H felony. The law includes an exception for the life of the mother.
GOP guv candidates Rebecca Kleefisch, Tim Michels and Kevin Nicholson all oppose abortion rights. WisPoiltics.com asked each campaign Tuesday if the candidates support the state’s abortion statute as is or would seek changes if elected, such as removing the exception for the life of a mother or adding other exceptions.
Nicholson said in a statement he is “unapologetically 100 percent pro-life,” but didn’t offer specifics. Kleefisch’s campaign pointed to a past interview in which the former lieutenant governor said she didn’t want additional exceptions to the 1849 ban.
Michels’ campaign said the only exception to the ban he supports is for the life of the mother as the candidate said in a statement “whenever possible, we should always come down on the side of life.”
See Evers’ release here.
Fond du Lac County DA and GOP AG candidate Eric Toney blasted Kaul, accusing the incumbent of wanting to only enforce laws with which he agrees.
Toney in a press release said the leak of the draft decision undermines the rule of law. He added he is opposed to abortion and “will enforce and defend the laws as passed by the Legislature and signed into law.”
“Josh Kaul has demonstrated he is nothing more than a politician seeking to defend the laws he agrees with and virtually ignore laws he disagrees with,” Toney said.
Kaul in an interview with WisPolitics.com doubled down on his previous position not to expend any DOJ resources investigating or prosecuting any alleged abortion ban violations. He also argued his department is focused on prosecuting serious crimes instead of what he said was a misuse of resources.
“I think Wisconsin DOJ’s resources should be focused on the most serious offenses, as they have been under my administration; cases involving homicides or drug trafficking or sexual assault,” he said. “His view instead seems to be that DOJ’s resources should instead go towards investigating and prosecuting people for violations of the abortion ban if that comes back into effect. I think that would be a significant misuse of state resources.”
Republican AG candidate Adam Jarchow’s campaign told WisPolitics.com Kaul’s stance should disqualify him as the top law enforcement official in the state.
“As a pro-life father of two, Adam will always support the right to life. Until a final opinion has been released, there must be an investigation into this damaging leak and those responsible must be dealt with accordingly,” said campaign manager Collin Driscoll.
Kaul in a tweet thread also said a court willing to repeal a 50-year-old law could pose an “ominous” threat to other laws.
“If the Court abandons precedent and Roe falls, we must fight to protect reproductive freedom — and our other freedoms — in Congress, state legislatures, and state courts,” the Dem AG said.