Area politicians react to Roe v. Wade ruling

Jun. 26—EAU CLAIRE — For the first time since 1973, people in the United States no longer have the constitutionally protected right to abortion access.

The majority ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey passed down by the U.S. Supreme Court Friday morning sparked waves of nationwide celebration and outcry as both protestors and supporters took to the streets and politicians publicly praised or condemned the rulings.

In Wisconsin, the decision to leave abortion restrictions to the discretion of the states has led to some uncertainty. While Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, has promised to "never stop fighting" for Wisconsinites' rights to reproductive freedom, the states Legislature is currently controlled by Republicans who are expected to uphold an anti-abortion law dating back to 1849.

Following SCOTUS's verdict, Wisconsin's 173-year-old abortion ban reverted back into effect, making the procedure illegal unless deemed medically necessary to save a patient's life, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. In such, Planned Parenthood has stopped all scheduled abortions at its clinics in Madison and Milwaukee.

Despite Evers' failed attempt to repeal the law via special session on Wednesday, a statement released by the governor on Friday made a promise of more pushback to come.

"Our work to do the right thing for the people of this state must continue," Evers, currently up for re-election, stated. "We will fight this decision in every way we can with every power we have. As people in Wisconsin and across our country make their voices heard in the days and months ahead, we will do so peacefully and without violence.

"I've said it before, and I'll say it again today: I will never stop fighting to make sure that every single Wisconsinite has the right to consult their family, their faith, and their doctor to make the reproductive healthcare decision that is right for them, and without interference from politicians or members of the Supreme Court who don't know anything about their life circumstances, values, or responsibilities," Evers continued.

Alternatively, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., also currently up for re-election, called Friday's ruling a "victory for life" and those who fight for the unborn.

"For almost fifty years the decision of nine unelected Justices have prevented a democratically derived consensus on the profound moral issue of abortion to be formed," Johnson stated in a Friday news release. "This decision will now allow that democratic process to unfold in each state to determine at what point does society have the responsibility to protect life. Hopefully, the debate will be conducted with sincerity, compassion, and respect for the broad range of views that people hold."

Political polarization

According to the Associated Press, a poll conducted in partnership with the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and others have consistently shown that about 1 in 10 Americans want abortion to be legal in all cases.

"A majority are in favor of abortion being legal in all or most circumstances, but polls indicate many also support restrictions especially later in pregnancy," the Associated Press reported.

A poll completed by the Marquette University Law School in early June showed that 58% of more than 800 Wisconsinites surveyed (with a margin of error of +/-4.3%) believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Of that same group, 35% said they believed abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, while 7% said they didn't know or refused to answer.

Despite disproportionate support in favor of abortion access across the country and the state, the officials elected to reflect the ideological makeup of the United States demonstrate a deep and polarizing divide between conservatives and liberals — even here, in and around the Chippewa Valley

In response to SCOTUS's decision, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, called for the Senate to codify Roe v. Wade.

"For nearly half a century, women have been able to make personal decisions about their reproductive health, their lives, and their futures without interference from the government," Kind said in a Friday statement. "Removing this fundamental right will have devastating consequences for women and families across the nation. Today's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade means that millions of women will be living with fewer freedoms than their mothers and grandmothers, and puts every American's right to privacy on shaky ground. We can't go backwards."

On the other hand, Derrick Van Orden, a Republican running to fill Kind's 3rd Congressional District seat, issued a short statement in full support of the ruling.

"I believe that every child is a child of God, and today's decision is a major milestone for the sanctity of life," he said.

Wisconsin State Assembly Rep. James Edming, R-Glen Flora, said: "Today's ruling corrects that wrong and allows each state to make its own decision. This is a victory for life and I am proud to stand on the side of the unborn."

Rep. Donna Rozar, R-Marshfield, said she applauds the conservative Supreme Court Justices for protecting "pre-born" children, and she called on Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul to enforce the state's pre-Roe abortion ban.

"Science has advanced over the past almost 50 years that show the uniqueness and distinctiveness of the pre-born child," Rozar stated. "With ultrasound technology as well as DNA advances, the personhood of the pre-born child cannot be disputed, and that personhood needs to be protected. Ending the life of the pre-born child through abortion in 2022 should be unthinkable and not even an option. We need to return to a culture where life is respected, from conception to natural death."

Kaul, a Democrat, announced on Thursday he would not prosecute abortion cases, as the law has not been enforceable for 49 years.

Rep. Jodi Emerson, D-Eau Claire, took to Facebook to make her stance clear.

"We must protect abortion in Wisconsin," Emerson wrote on Friday. "We're not backing down. All people deserve access to reproductive healthcare when they need it and in a community and an environment they trust and feel safe in. We must act now and we must not go backwards."

In agreement, State Treasurer and U.S. Senate candidate Sarah Godlewski called the news of the ruling "devastating" for millions of women and families. She condemned Johnson and other state Republicans for their inaction.

"This is personal for me, I do not want my generation or the next generation to have fewer rights," Godlewski stated in a Friday news release.

Deb Baldus McGrath, a Menomonie candidate for the state's 3rd Congressional District, stated her anger in a Friday news release. She attributed the loss of a "fundamental, constitutional" right to anti-choice politicians and she decried Wisconsin's 1840s-era ban that offers no exceptions for rape and incest.

"These radicals are stripping away our ability to control our own bodies and giving that power over to politicians. This is an attack on our right to make personal decisions about our healthcare, lives, and families," McGrath stated. "But I will not be silenced. My mother and I fought for Roe in the '70s, and now I speak boldly with my own daughter and grandchildren in mind. Congress must codify Roe v. Wade into law, and protect womens' right to choose when and how to have a family. I will always fight to defend and protect our reproductive rights."