Attempt to repeal Wisconsin's abortion ban fails, GOP lawmakers swiftly end special session
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- As expected, Republicans who control the state Legislature swiftly rejected Governor Tony Evers' request to repeal Wisconsin's criminal abortion ban that could go into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the landmark decision that made abortions legal.
In an attempt to revoke Wisconsin's dormant abortion ban, Gov. Evers called a special session asking that lawmakers act to protect access to abortion. Within a matter of seconds, the Assembly and Senate shut down the special session without taking any votes.
Republicans called the special session foolish, arguing it was designed to benefit Gov. Evers as he faces reelection this year.
"This is nothing more than a calculated campaign move and the exact reason why the Legislature isn’t in session during campaign season," said Senate President Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield). "He’s not fooling anyone with this disingenuous political stunt."
In a statement, Gov. Evers bashed Republicans saying they defied a majority of Wisconsinites who support access to abortions.
"Today, given the opportunity to protect those very rights, Republicans balked, leaving women and families across the state behind and providing no certainty or security for accessing the reproductive health care every person deserves," said Evers.
A new statewide poll released Wednesday showed 58% of voters surveyed believe abortions should be legal in all or most cases. Meanwhile, 35% said it should be illegal, according to results by the Marquette University Law School Poll.
The inaction by Republicans comes in anticipation of the U.S Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade after a leaked draft opinion found the 1973 ruling unconstitutional to seek an abortion.
If that occurs, nearly all abortions would become illegal in Wisconsin, triggering an 1849 state law to go into effect. The 173-year-old law does not include exceptions for rape or incest, but would allow an abortion to be performed if a mother's life is in danger.
Dozens of supporters of abortion rights took to the halls of the state Capitol to voice their anger as women and providers across Wisconsin prepare for their lives to change.
"You can see and feel this range of emotions," said Tanya Atkinson, president of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. "I've had people come up to me and tell me what life was like before Roe and how dangerous it was."
Democratic lawmakers are also bracing for the reality that women could be at risk of losing their ability to make personal reproductive health care decisions.
"Overturning Roe will be sea change, an upheaval of their existing rights," said Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley (D-Mason). "We cannot leave our children with fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers."