PREPARING FOR A
For the first time in two generations and nearly 50 years, the Supreme Court may be on the verge of overturning their decision in Roe V. Wade. Thanks to Dobbs V. Jackson Women’s Heath Organization, a case pertaining to the constitutionality of a Mississippi law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks, the Supreme Court may choose to uphold the Mississippi law and therefore overturn the precedent set in Roe.
If Roe is overturned, each state would once again be able to set their own standards regarding the legality of abortion. Due to a law dating to 1849 that prohibits abortion in Wisconsin, Wisconsin is in a powerful position to defend preborn life as this law would once again be enforceable.
This is a hopeful and critical time in the prolife movement in Wisconsin. It is vital we that defend preborn life, offer support to women facing challenging or unexpected pregnancies, and ensure we are ready and prepared for a post-Roe Wisconsin.
THE SUPREME COURT’S ROE PRECEDENT
Prior to Roe, abortion was illegal in 30 states, and legal with regulations in 20. In 1973, Roe invalidated these laws and established a “right to privacy for women,” enshrining a right to abortion that did not exist constitutionally. The Court did not recognize a right to abortion in all cases, stating, “If the State is interested in protecting fetal life after viability, it may go so far as to proscribe abortion during that period, except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”
States are able to regulate and prohibit abortion after viability, as long as they provide an exception for the life of the mother. States have signed hundreds of pro-life laws that are unenforceable due to Roe. Scientific advancements have allowed babies to be born at earlier stages, making the viability standard set by the court in 1973 invalid. A third of states have passed “pain capable” bills that prohibit abortion past 20 weeks, and this is the furthest the Supreme Court has allowed states to go under current precedent.
EXPECTED DECISION IN DOBBS V. JACKSON
Based on oral arguments in December 2021, it seems likely that five justices will vote to uphold the Mississippi law, and 6 seem likely to set a new viability standard. According to many legal scholars and experts, the most likely outcome is that the Court will uphold the Mississippi law and overturn the standards set in Roe.
“The Constitution’s neither pro-life or pro-choice on the question of abortion but leaves the issue for the people of the states or perhaps Congress to resolve in the democratic process.”
Justice Brett Kavanaugh
WISCONSIN’S EXISTING PRO-LIFE LAW
In 1849, just months after establishing statehood, Wisconsin criminalized abortion. This law persisted for 120 years, until Roe V. Wade. By the late 1970s, over 20,000 abortions were being performed in Wisconsin each year.
Yet, Wisconsin still has a statute banning abortion: “Any person, other than the mother, who intentionally destroys the life of an unborn child is guilty of a Class H felony.”
PREPARING FOR A POST-ROE WISCONSIN
Focus on Elections
The Governor, Attorney General, District Attorneys, and State Legislators would all be in charge of ensuring that our pro-life law, Statute 940.04, is enforced, and would have the chance to pass additional pro-life protections.
Spread the Word
Find your local Pregnancy Help Centers, and ask about the services they provide and how we can help.
Fill the Gap for Women
Proactively lobby for legislation that would provide further support to women, and volunteer time and effort to assist Pregnancy Help Centers.
Make Abortion “Illegal and Unthinkable”
Ensure our narrative is one of support and love for women and their babies, so they feel empowered to choose life.