By Senator Lena C. Taylor
Last week, Roe V. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that protected women’s right to an abortion, was overturned. This decision came from the highest court in our nation, creating panic and uncertainty about the future. Although this decision does change accessibility to abortions, in many states, there are still resources for women and girls impacted by this ruling. In the midst of our frustration, anger and dismay, we can’t lose sight of the big picture.
Abortion is a healthcare issue, not a moral or religious debate up for parochial fodder. Yet, if there was any doubt that partisan politics have consumed the nation’s highest court, we now have our answer. Like Justice Sonia Sotomayor, I too believe that the conservatives on the Supreme Court are going to move the country sharply to the right. Everything is on the table and everything is on the chopping block, precedent be damned. But today, the fight is about access to safe abortion care.
Women have always desired to control their own reproductive health. To that end, abortions date back hundreds of years and was in fact legal when the constitution was written, in many states. Wisconsin’s abortion ban is 173 years old and only provide exceptions when it is deemed medically necessary to save the patient’s life. The law also includes language that would make abortion a felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
However, since I have been in office, there have been additional laws on the books that address abortion. These laws, ranging from 1996 to 2015, include updated language that ban abortions after 20 weeks. Wisconsin’s Attorney General Josh Kaul has said that because we have conflicting and competing laws regarding abortion, he is challenging a return to the state’s 1849 original law.
While we sift through the full ramifications of this decision and our response, we know that questions about contraception, medication abortion or other family planning options are now in play. Wisconsin women and girls must know what is available to them.
We have been told that the morning after pill and contraception will still be available for those that need it. However, medicated abortion will be highly regulated within the state.
It is now considered illegal to use medicated abortion in Wisconsin. If you get a pill from another state through mail or telemedicine, it is considered a felony. It can seem impossible to understand every law or know what is permissible. Organizations such as Planned Parenthood, Prochoice.org, and The National Abortion Federation are good resources of information.
The roles of some of our organizations have changed, but you can still be guided to safe and legal abortion clinics in neighboring states. We need adapt but not give up. Women worked to changes the laws before and we will do it again. Until then, know your rights, understand the law and help to educate others.