Despite previous failures, Wisconsin Democrats push to overturn 19th-century state law criminalizing most abortions

MADISON, Wis. — Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin were disappointed in Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion leaked Monday that could spell the overturning of Roe v. Wade, but fear other rights could be challenged next.

“The Supreme Court is not going to just stop by giving abortion regulation back to the states, and it was clear from the draft opinion that Alito is gunning for marriage equality,” said Sen. Kelda Roys, D-Madison. “They really want to take us backwards to a time of extreme government regulation in the most private, intimate decisions of our life.”

Roys was among a group of Democratic legislators who introduced a bill this session to rewrite Wisconsin’s 1849 law that criminalizes abortion. The bill never made it to the floor of the Republican-controlled Legislature.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned as the draft opinion suggests, abortion law would largely defer to the states or to Congress to determine whether it is legal.

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

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin introduced legislation at the federal level to allow for abortions, but the bill has not passed yet.

“The Senate needs to pass my Women’s Health Protection Act, and frankly if we need to eliminate the filibuster in order to do it, that is what we should do,” Baldwin said in an interview with News 3 Now.

“This would be the first time in history that we have not expanded constitutional rights in our country but actually taken one away, and it actually sets the stage frankly for going even further,” Baldwin added. “Birth control may become the next target.”

It is unlikely legislation legalizing abortion would make it through the Wisconsin Legislature, Republicans have been largely uniform in their opposition to it.

Weighing in Monday night, the four Republican candidates for governor issued statements in support of the draft opinion.

Even a few years ago however, Democrats were not united on the abortion front.

“When I was in the Assembly, and we had the majority,” Roys said, “we had a very brief window of time and there were a number of us who worked hard to try to push the repeal of this criminal abortion ban. Unfortunately, at that time, there were a number of anti-choice Democrats, so we didn’t have the votes.”