By Alexandria Staubach
Vice President Kamala Harris today kicked off her nationwide Reproductive Freedoms Tour before a crowd gathered at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 7 headquarters in Waukesha County.
Harris' speech made clear that personal freedoms, and especially the right to abortion, would be central to this year’s partisan elections, including any race between President Joe Biden and the Republican frontrunner, former President Donald Trump.
Referring to the time since the U.S. Supreme Court passed the Dobbs decision overturning Roe, Harris said that “in the last 19 months, in states across our nation, extremists have proposed and passed laws that criminalize doctors and punish women.”
Harris spoke at noon. Two hours later the Wisconsin Assembly's Committee on Health, Aging and Long-Term Care began a public hearing on AB 975 to ban abortion after 14 weeks.
Current Wisconsin law restricts abortions after 20 weeks, except in medical emergencies, following a December ruling from Dane County Circuit Judge Diane Schlipper that a 19th-century Wisconsin law does not prohibit abortions.
The bill was first introduced and referred to the committee on Friday, Jan. 12. The bill is co-sponsored by 36 Republican Assembly representatives.
Gov. Tony Evers has said he would veto the bill if it makes its way through the Legislature to his desk.
The Assembly bill includes a provision requiring voter approval. If passed by both houses, the bill would add to the April ballot a referendum question about the 14-week ban. If a majority of voters votes "yes" on the change, it would go into effect the day after election results are final and certified. If a majority votes "no," the legislation would not go into effect.
At today's hearing, Assembly Republicans stressed that the issue should be “put to the people.” “We have got to get to the truth, we have got to understand where people are on this issue” said Rep. Amanda Nedweski (R-Pleasant Prairie).
The Supreme Court issued its Roe v. Wade decision on Jan. 22, 1973. The court overturned Roe in its 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision on June 24, 2022.
Help WJI advocate for justice in Wisconsin