State Law Could See Abortion Window Reduced
Wisconsin’s top Republican, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, is pushing for a proposal that would allow voters to decide on reducing the timeframe for women to get abortions. Currently, state law bans abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, but Vos hopes to lower the limit to somewhere between the 12th and 15th week. Vos believes that putting this issue in the hands of the people is the best way to bring resolution to the debate.
Confusion Over Abortion Laws
The state of abortion laws in Wisconsin became uncertain in June 2022 when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. This ruling reactivated an old state law from 1849, which conservatives interpreted as banning abortion. As a result, abortion providers temporarily halted their operations due to fear of prosecution. However, in September, a judge ruled that the 173-year-old abortion ban outlaws killing fetuses but does not ban abortions. Despite this ruling, a Republican prosecutor has appealed the decision, and the case is likely to reach the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Ending Uncertainty With New Legislation
Vos argues that passing new abortion legislation would bring clarity and certainty instead of relying on outdated laws and interpretation by judges. Recent polls conducted since the Supreme Court’s decision have shown that a majority of Wisconsin residents oppose the ruling and support legalized abortion.
Potential Challenges Ahead
For a new abortion law to reach the voters, it would need to be passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed into law by Democratic Governor Tony Evers. Afterward, it could be placed on the ballot as a binding referendum in a statewide election. However, Governor Evers is unlikely to support Vos’ proposal, as he has vowed to veto any abortion legislation that creates stricter laws than those established by Roe v. Wade.
Previous Calls for Voter Decision
Vos is not the first Wisconsin Republican to advocate for a ballot question on abortion laws. U.S. Senator Ron Johnson has repeatedly pushed for a referendum, believing that most people would support banning abortion after the 12th week of pregnancy. However, due to an ongoing court case and resistance in the Legislature, a referendum in 2024 appears highly unlikely.
About the Author:
Harm Venhuizen is a journalist with the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. This nonprofit national service program places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.