Tony Evers, legislative Democrats announce bill to restore abortion access that existed under Roe v. Wade

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MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers joined Democratic legislators Tuesday to introduce a bill that would repeal Wisconsin's criminal abortion ban and revert abortion access to the day before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Abortions were legal until 20 weeks of pregnancy in Wisconsin until the court's decision last summer that sent decisions on abortion laws to the states. Wisconsin's revived 1849 abortion ban outlaws all abortions unless a mother would die without one.

“I’ve been clear from the beginning that I won't sign a bill that leaves Wisconsin women with fewer rights and freedoms than they had before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe," Evers said. "This bill will simply restore access to safe, legal abortion in Wisconsin to what it was on June 23, 2022 — nothing more, and nothing less."

The Democratic bill faces an uphill battle.

The proposal comes a week after the Republicans could not agree on a bill that would have created exceptions for rape and incest to the 1849 abortion ban, and a spokesman for the group Pro-Life Wisconsin criticized that bill for adding any new exceptions to the state ban.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called the Democrats' news conference announcing the bill a "spectacle" and Evers a hypocrite.

“Last week, Legislative Republicans introduced a bill that’s a reasonable middle ground to the divisive and opposing viewpoints on abortion. Governor Evers immediately said he would veto it," Vos said. "Legislative Republicans have continued to say we’re willing to discuss and find consensus. Instead, Governor Evers issues an ultimatum of no negotiating.”

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu could not be reached for contact on the Democrats' proposal.

According to the Marquette Law School Poll, nearly 60% of Wisconsin voters support legal access to abortion and more than 60% oppose the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

"The Republicans have their bill, the Democrats have their bill, the people of Wisconsin should be able to hear a debate about this issue, not silence," Evers said.

State Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, co-authored the bill, calling abortion "health care," and said the bill provides basic reproductive rights and protects doctors from the threat of prosecution.

“The bill we introduced today would restore Roe in Wisconsin by returning the state of abortion access to exactly what it was before Roe v. Wade was overturned, restoring our freedom to make our own reproductive health care decisions without interference from politicians," Subeck said.

With Evers' stance that he will not sign any bill that doesn't codify Roe, the issue will likely end up in the hands of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, making abortion one of the top issues in the April 4 court election that will determine the balance of power on the court between its liberal and conservative justices.

Liberal Supreme Court Candidate Janet Protasiewicz said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she believes the term limit for abortion that was in force before Roe was overturned was appropriate.

Corrinne Hess can be reached at or on Twitter @CorriHess

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Tony Evers, Democrats announce abortion bill to restore Roe v. Wade