'We will not back down': Gov. Evers, AG Kaul announce lawsuit challenging Wisconsin's 1849 abortion ban
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Gov. Tony Evers has authorized Attorney General Josh Kaul to file a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s 1849 law banning abortion. The 19th century law criminalizes abortion even in cases of rape or incest.
Gov. Evers made the announcement Tuesday during a press conference just days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade.
"We won't go back, we won't back down, and we are going to fight like hell," Gov. Evers said.
Evers called out state republican lawmakers for not acting to protect abortion rights ahead of the SCOTUS decision. "The people of Wisconsin were abandoned by the Supreme Court but they've also been abandoned repeatedly and willfully failed by a republican legislators who sat around and watched this happen in slow motion," he said.
The lawsuit filed is asking the court for legal clarification about what the 1800's abortion law means for Wisconsin today.
"We are making two legal arguments in support of this case. There are a series of laws that provide regulation for lawful abortions in Wisconsin. Those statues are directly inconsistent with Wisconsin's 19th-century abortion ban," said AG Kaul.
Kaul also argues that the 1849 abortion law is not enforceable. "This law was passed well before women had the right to vote. It was passed before the Civil War, and uses terminology that is outdated and leaves doctors and others uncertain," he said.
Dr. Kristin Lyerly, an abortion care provider from Green Bay spoke about the growing concerns among the health care community.
"Making abortion illegal will not stop abortion but it will cause women, families, and communities to suffer," she said.
BREAKING: @WisDOJ AG Kaul and I are filing a direct challenge to Wisconsin’s 1849 criminal abortion law banning nearly all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) June 28, 2022
We won’t go back, we won’t back down, and we are going to fight like hell. pic.twitter.com/DraylV4i1D
AG Kaul plans to claim the 1849 law is not in effect. He argued the ban has fallen into disuse and can no longer be enforced, saying it’s been “unenforceable for more than 50 years.”
"We are seeking to have the 1800s ban deemed unenforceable," Kaul said. "While this is playing out, women in Wisconsin are already feeling the effects."
Access to safe and legal abortion stopped in Wisconsin last Friday. With this lawsuit, we are fighting to restore reproductive freedom in Wisconsin. https://t.co/2iISbBrcUl— Attorney General Josh Kaul (@WisDOJ) June 28, 2022
Read the complaint filed below: