For the Record: Tough medical decisions in post-Roe Wisconsin, Guv debate recap, and an EMS crisis

Political analysts join For the Record to break down Wisconsin's only face-off between its governor candidates; plus, Wisconsin EMS Association weighs in on referendums this November amid a statewide EMS crisis

Key health official describes ‘gray areas’, doctors facing complex decisions in post-Roe Wisconsin

Doctors are facing an increasingly complex array of gray areas when treating pregnant people under Wisconsin’s near-total abortion ban, Dr. Wendy Molaska told Naomi Kowles on For the Record. The president of the Wisconsin Medical Society says the organization is frequently fielding calls for guidance from doctors around the state, who under Wisconsin’s abortion ban could be prosecuted for providing abortions for anyone not in need of one as a life-saving measure.

That line of what is needed to save a life and what is needed for a woman’s health is a gray one, Dr. Molaska explained. Doctors are handling situations where younger girls are pregnant–already a high-risk scenario–or women are diagnosed with cancer during their pregnancy and doctors are unsure when they can start providing chemotherapy.

“There’s been concern of, ‘Well, can I treat them with the chemotherapy that they need to help with their cancer–knowing that might cause a miscarriage or an abortion?” she explained. “We want to save the life of the mother, but is it the life of the mother or the health of the mother?”

Other complex issues include helping women with only a few childbearing years left, who are at risk of carrying an unviable fetus. Dr. Molaska said she has a 39-year-old patient who wants to get pregnant but fears she would have to carry a nonviable fetus to term and miss a narrow window of opportunity to instead have an early abortion and get pregnant again.

“Right now, what it would be is ‘No, you can’t get an abortion, you have to carry out that entire pregnancy, have the baby that isn’t gonna survive–before you get pregnant again.’ So she’s really concerned about not having a lot of childbearing time left.”

The Wisconsin Medical Society initially had wanted to put out written guidance for doctor’s trying to navigate Wisconsin’s legal landscape after Roe v Wade fell, but ultimately opted against it as they couldn’t cover every situation and feared that written guidance could be a legal risk for doctors.

Watch her full interview above.

Governor’s debate recap: GOP, Dem strategists join FTR to recap Friday night’s face-off

As the governor’s race in Wisconsin continues neck-to-neck in polls going into the final weeks before midterms, GOP candidate Tim Michels faced off with Governor Tony Evers in the race’s only debate on Friday night.

Joining FTR after the debate, Republican strategist Brian Reisinger and Democratic strategist Joe Zepecki weighed in on how the candidates performed and how it could change key swing voters’ minds.

“I hope those undecided voters caught the debate,” Zepecki said. “I think that the 100 to 200 thousand truly-undecided voters will probably find time to watch it back…because the contrasts are very clear between these two gentlemen.”

“I do think that is where debates have an impact, which is at the margins,” Reisinger added. “There are some folks who are going to tune into this who haven’t necessarily made up their mind or may have views who have a mix of issues in them.”

Amid EMS crisis, referendums on the ballot this November

As an EMS and first responder crisis worsens around Wisconsin, Wisconsin Public Radio reports there’s 20 referendums on ballots around Wisconsin asking voters to pay more for first responder services.

Alan DeYoung, the executive director of the Wisconsin EMS Association, joined Naomi Kowles this Sunday to explain the crisis. In a few rural areas around Wisconsin, he said, he’s heard of some EMS workers putting in 600 hours in a month. There’s nobody to replace some workers from doing back-to-back shifts or going straight from one call to the next. The only places not suffering from a shortage, he said, are those very few departments able to afford high pay and good benefits.

“Most taxpayers believe their taxes cover the cost of running EMS for their area,” DeYoung said. “And most of the time, that’s not the case.”

In one county last year, he said, at least three calls had to go unanswered.

“Nobody showed up. I believe we’re going to be seeing that more and more,” he said.

DeYoung says the solution is setting a baseline of funding for departments across Wisconsin: a goal his association estimates would cost about a half billion dollars, or the cost of a Netflix subscription a year per household, he said.

“I would hope there could be a statewide funding mechanism, because there are rural areas where you can’t increase taxes, the residents just can’t pay anymore.”

Watch his full interview above.