For the Record: One week of Roe v. Wade’s overturn in Wisconsin
One week after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a special edition of For the Record focuses entirely on the impact in Wisconsin where an 1849 ban makes nearly all abortions illegal.
Roe v. Wade: Legal concerns for women, doctors
Wisconsin attorney general Josh Kaul and Gov. Tony Evers filed a lawsuit in Dane County circuit court this week, seeking to nullify the bill both because it conflicts with later laws as well as on the basis of the law falling into disuse.
Wisconsin’s existing abortion ban has an exception for saving the life of the mother, but none for rape or incest.
“We have laws that are in conflict,” Kaul said. “You can’t have, for example, an abortion to save the health of the mother be both legal and illegal. There’s an exception to protect the health of the mother under more recent laws, but not under the old law.”
Kaul said he does not have the ability to limit the power of county-level district attorneys and law enforcement from investigating or prosecuting doctors for performing abortions. The Sheboygan County district attorney announced last week that he would actively prosecute doctors suspected of providing an abortion.
While the current state law only applies to medical providers, concerns are also circulating nationally about investigations using digital data from apps like period tracking tools and other pregnancy planners to investigate pregnant people.
“One of the things that I’m concerned about is that we are going to see abuses of the investigative process,” Kaul said, citing an example from Kansas in the early 2000s when state attorney general Phil Kline attempted to use his subpoena power to get medical records for use in prosecuting Planned Parenthood. The Kansas Supreme Court would ultimately indefinitely suspend his license to practice law in 2013, a suspension upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I hope we don’t see that, but if you think about how these laws would be enforced, investigators would need to get very invasive personal healthcare information to meaningfully enforce these laws.”
Watch his full interview above.
Roe v. Wade: Conservative groups want to limit life-saving exception
The Madison-based conservative lobbyist group Wisconsin Family Action, which seeks to influence the state legislature with what they call Judeo-Christian values, told Naomi Kowles on FTR that the group wants to see the language for saving a mother’s life “narrowed” to define a medical emergency.
“As a result of it not being more narrowly defined, it can be twisted and contorted to allow for things that the law would not be intending to happen,” Julaine Appling said, president of WFA. “Really what we would prefer is the law talking about equal care for the mother and baby in a medical emergency; that would be the best way.”
The age of the abortion ban shouldn’t impact its application, Appling said.
When asked whether a ban on adultery also passed in 1849 in Wisconsin should be applied as well, she responded that “In my opinion, yes, probably we should. But that’s unrealistic and I recognize times have changed on that.”
Watch her full interview above.
Roe v. Wade: Impact on marginalized communities, legal confusion for doctors
“Lifesaving care is very intentionally vague,” said UW assistant professor Tiffany Green, who specializes in population health research within the obstetrics & gynecology department. “That’s why we need to leave that up to doctors.”
Patients are waiting for hours across the country for lifesaving care as doctors hold conversations with attorneys in the fears they will lose their license, Green said.
“This is going to have a devastating impact in general on obstetrics and gynecology training,” Green said. “This is an essential part of being an obstetrician or gynecologist. There are conditions such as ectopic pregnancy for which the only medical treatment is abortion, and there are a myriad of reasons why people seek abortions, and this is fundamentally impinging on a doctor’s right to provide whole and complete care for their patients.”
Black women were up to five times more likely to die during pregnancy than white women, according to state data from between 2006 and 2010.
“With these bans, I think it’s very likely that we’re going to see more pregnant people dying, and we know that Black pregnant people are going to be disproportionately likely to suffer from these restrictions to medical care.”
Watch her full interview above.
Roe v. Wade: Groups helping people get abortions out of state ramp up services
Immediately after the Supreme Court ruled to overturn almost 50 years of precedent, leaders from Midwest Access Coalition said the urgent calls from people needing help kept pouring in.
MAC’s Director of Programs Marie Khan said the group, which offers abortion seekers assistance with childcare and travel expenses, went from getting about 120 calls a month to 600 in less than a week.
The Women’s Medical Fund in Wisconsin, which helps people fund out of state abortions, said volunteers seeking to help the organization have risen to 700 in the past week, a record high for the group.
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