Wisconsin’s Democratic Governor Tony Evers vows clemency for doctors performing abortions
As states grapple with their responses to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers vowed to pardon all doctors accused of performing an abortion.
An 1849 state law banning most abortions was enacted long before it was federally protected in 1973 — but the law technically went back into effect after Friday’s ruling dismissed the landmark case.
A judge in Louisiana also temporarily blocked the state from enforcing a law banning abortion that went into effect last week.
Judge Robin Giarrusso of the New Orleans Parish Civil District Court issued a temporary restraining order banning Louisiana from enforcing the ban, shortly after Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, one of Louisiana’s three abortion clinics, was indicted.
Evers said Saturday at a Democratic Party convention in Wisconsin that not only will he not enforce his state’s century-and-a-half-old law, but he will also pardon anyone charged under the old law.
“The 1849 Act says that anyone who performs an abortion can face a felony from one to six years,” Evers said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. ‘Have you ever thought of the word leniency? I will pardon any physician charged under that law.”
“I don’t think any law written before the Civil War, or before women got the right to vote, should be used to dictate these intimate decisions about reproductive health,” the governor continued.
He called the Supreme Court decision “bulls***” and said Democrats must face opponents in the fall if they want to stop further restrictions on abortion access.
Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers (pictured Feb. 15, 2022) said over the weekend he would pardon doctors who perform abortions after an 1849 law went back into effect with the fall of Roe v. Wade on Friday.
Wisconsin is not one of the states with so-called “trigger laws,” which effectively banned abortion after Roe was overturned. The states with these laws are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.
Despite having a Democratic governor, Wisconsin turned red for Donald Trump at 47.2 percent to 46.5 percent in 2016 and blue for Joe Biden at 49.4 percent to 48.8 percent in 2020.
Wisconsin is a typical swing state leaning to the right. It has one Democratic and one Republican senator, five Republican representatives, and three Democratic and a bicameral legislature that has had a GOP majority since 2011.
Democratic Attorney General in the state Josh Kaul and other district attorneys in the state have vowed not to enforce the law — even though the door is still open for other attorneys and state lawmakers to enforce it now or in the future as long as it stays on the books.
Evers and Kaul both face tough re-election races in November.
‘Do you mind now? The four Republicans who are going after me, we’re going to beat one of them, they’re going to make it worse,” Evers said at the Democratic rally this weekend.
The Supreme Court ruling Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, which provided federal protections for abortion. Since the ruling, pro- and anti-abortion activists have posted outside the Supreme Court building (pictured Sunday, June 26, 2022)
The top four candidates in Wisconsin are former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, businessman Tim Michels, State Representative Tim Ramthun and businessman Kevin Nicholson.
All are outspoken opponents of abortion who have said they would leave the 1849 law intact.
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization took this term to the Supreme Court after Mississippi passed a law banning abortion after 15 weeks, which is short in the second trimester.
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to uphold the Mississippi law with all six conservative judges in agreement and the three liberals disagreeing.
Judge Samuel Alito wrote the majority view, a draft of which leaked from the Supreme Court in early May.
On the issue of completely overthrowing Roe, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Liberals, claiming that while he is in favor of maintaining the 15-week ban, he disagrees with an outright reversal of the 50- years of precedent.