Calls to repeal Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion law fell on empty chambers

Republicans in the Legislature gaveled-out of the special session called by Gov. Tony Evers without debate

MADISON, Wis. — Democrats tried, but predictably failed, to undo Wisconsin’s 173-year-old abortion ban, which will go into effect as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the precedent.

Wednesday’s session was just the latest among a series of special sessions called by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers that have failed to yield any debate in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

WATCH: Wisconsin Republican lawmakers quickly gavel into, out of special session on abortion

Evers criticized the gavel-in/gavel-out sessions, which lasted 14 seconds in the Senate and 25 seconds in the Assembly, saying the Legislature did not do its job by not hearing debate on the issue.

“Today, they once again failed to muster the courage to perform that simple duty,” Evers said.

Republicans decried the special session call as a political stunt — as Evers is up for reelection this November.

“This is nothing more than a calculated campaign move and the exact reason why the Legislature isn’t in session during campaign season,” Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, said. “He’s not fooling anyone with this disingenuous political stunt.”

Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer said there have been political overtones throughout.

“If the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade, it will be a brazen political act carried out by a blatantly partisan court corrupted by appointments from a disgraced former president,” she said.

RELATED: Wisconsin attorney general says counties shouldn’t enforce archaic state abortion ban if Roe v. Wade is overturned

The nation’s high court now has a reliable 6-3 conservative majority with the three justices former President Donald Trump appointed. That majority is expected to overturn the abortion precedent before the term ends in late June or early July.

If the decision comes down as expected, Wisconsin’s law would immediately go into effect, and for abortion rights advocates, it is a matter of health care. They say women will still seek abortions, but they will just be criminalized and less safe.

“Criminalization of abortion will make these critical decisions harder,” said Eliza Bennett, a Madison OB-GYN who spoke at a news conference before the session. “It will endanger lives and eventually if this law is allowed to stand, it will kill Wisconsin women.”

RELATED: Abortion advocates hold ‘pink out’ at Wisconsin capitol on same day as special session

States like Wisconsin will be able to set their own policy on the issue of abortion going forward, and legislative Democrats say it is up to them to step up if the federal protections are eliminated.

“That is incumbent on us now is to pass laws that will make safe abortion legal in this state,” said Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley.