WISCONSIN – Today, The CapTimes published an op-ed penned by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and highlighting her work to protect women’s reproductive rights:

The CapTimes: Two years after Roe fell, Americans want their rights back

On the morning of June 24, 2022, patients across Wisconsin sat in waiting rooms, probably on their phones, leafing through magazines, or simply sitting quietly as they waited to see their doctor.

That morning, doctors and nurses also prepared for the day ahead. They were getting ready to do the job they were trained to do after countless hours of schooling and years of residency — to administer safe, effective care for their patients.

But just after 9 a.m., everything changed. Hundreds of miles away, six unelected Supreme Court justices stripped those women of the right to make their own health care decisions and their doctors’ ability to practice exactly what they were trained to do.

In Wisconsin, the overturning of Roe v. Wade sent women back to live under a criminal abortion ban passed in 1849 — 70 years before women had the right to vote. In those same waiting rooms, doctors scrambled to help their panicked patients, who realized they could no longer receive health care in their home state. Across Wisconsin, women learned they now had fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers.

For 15 months, the Dobbs v. Jackson decision caused chaos and confusion in our state. Politicians and judges invited themselves into the exam rooms. Attorneys began practicing medicine, interpreting a law that predated the Civil War to tell doctors how to do their jobs.

Women with non-viable pregnancies arranged travel, lodging and childcare to drive across state lines to end their pregnancies — grieving their loss while sorting through the logistics of finding coveted appointments hours away. Emergency care workers turned away women who were bleeding out with partial miscarriages, asking them to return only when they were sick enough to die. Many more women struggled in silence, stripped of the ability to make their own choices.

Two years later, women in Wisconsin still can only get elective abortion care in just three of our 72 counties. Of course, they still need to meet with a counselor, find a provider who has an opening, undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound and wait a full day before they can actually get the care they need.

These restrictions force women to jump through hoops just to get health care. That’s why I first introduced the Women’s Health Protection Act years before the Dobbs decision. Then, it was about safeguarding a right that was under siege and stopping states from making it harder for women to get the care they need or want. Today, it’s about giving women their freedoms back.

My Women’s Health Protection Act would guarantee access to abortion everywhere across the country, restoring the right to comprehensive reproductive health care for millions of Americans. No more 1800s-era criminal abortion bans. No more politicians and judges butting into your personal health care decisions. And no prospect of a national abortion ban on the horizon.

My bill would restore a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions and eliminate the patchwork quilt of laws across the country that women and their doctors must navigate.

But we can’t stop there. The ripple effects of the Dobbs decision go far beyond abortion. When this activist Supreme Court overturned 50 years of settled precedent, they also opened the floodgates to strip away other rights and freedoms, like being able to marry who you want or use birth control. In response, I was proud to pass my Respect for Marriage Act to protect interracial and same-sex couples in loving marriages. Still, we have more work to do.

In Alabama, we saw judges use the newfound freedom under Dobbs to effectively halt in vitro fertilization services for women who desperately wanted to start a family, some of whom had spent their life savings and were running out of time to get pregnant.

We need to pass legislation to further protect Americans’ right to contraception and IVF because, frankly, these freedoms are none of the government’s business. Congress must act to safeguard the rights and freedoms that the reversal of Roe threw on the chopping block.

In the last two years, I’ve heard my colleagues, many of them men, debate whether the states or the federal government should decide whether a woman can choose. Well, I think it’s women who should decide what’s best for their bodies, health and future.

In polling and at the ballot box, Americans have time and again sent a clear message to politicians and judges: “Leave women alone.” My Women’s Health Protection Act will do just that. I think it’s time my colleagues listened.

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