By Congresswoman Gwen Moore
Before Roe v. Wade, Wisconsin women would collect money to help their friends and neighbors get to New York to have an abortion. I know because I was one of them.
At 19 years old, after my first child was born, I got pregnant for a second time and decided to have an abortion. As I’ve said before, too many people I had known suffered botched, self-induced abortions, and far too many others died from those unsafe procedures. That’s why I knew I needed help. Unlike so many others in Wisconsin and across the country at the time, I was able to secure a ticket to New York City to get the care I needed.
From that moment on, I’ve fought for reproductive freedom. After more than 50 years, it’s horrifying to think that a partisan Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, meaning Wisconsin woman are finding themselves once again without access to safe, legal abortions.
Right now in Wisconsin, access to abortion is on the line. Thanks in no small part to Republicans in Congress like Ron Johnson, our fundamental rights are under threat by a draconian law passed when only land-holding white men had the right to vote, when slavery had yet to be abolished across the United States, and when women and people of color were relegated to second-class citizenship.
With the reversal of Roe v. Wade over the summer, Wisconsin is governed by an 1849 abortion ban. With over one million Wisconsinites losing their right to an abortion, this law has returned us to some of the darkest days in our state’s history.
What’s even more horrifying is that, in the moments after Roe was overturned, Republicans like Ron Johnson actually celebrated. Johnson called the decision “a victory,” despite the fact that the decision threatens people’s fundamental right to privacy and will put countless more lives at risk. He even bragged about his role in stripping away the rights of millions of Wisconsinites, taking credit for confirming the far-right justices who handed down the “correct decision.”
Anticipating the overturning of Roe, when women across the country lost a fundamental right to control their own bodies, Johnson even had the nerve to say that people “can move” if they can’t access reproductive health care in their states. That kind of callousness and cruelty is disqualifying—but it’s exactly what I’ve come to expect from self-serving and deeply out-of-touch politicians like Ron Johnson.
Republicans aren’t going to stop there. Now, they’re already working to roll back the clock on our rights at the federal level—back to when women like me risked their lives to get the health care we needed.
Despite what he might claim now, Johnson has backed eight abortion bans during his time in Congress and co-sponsored a personhood bill that declared life began at “fertilization,” essentially making abortion murder in all cases. He also fought to keep a law on the books in Mississippi banning abortion after 15 weeks without exceptions for rape or incest.
So let me be perfectly clear: If Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate, they will push forward a national abortion ban. Some senators already have.
That’s why we need to expand our majorities in Congress to codify Roe at the federal level, so that no woman in Wisconsin or anywhere in America has to experience what I went through all those years ago—and I know that Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes will be the 51st vote to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.
If Ron Johnson remains in the U.S. Senate it means we may never pass this bill, and could even give Republicans the majority to put other rights not directly enumerated in the Constitution on the chopping block—from access to birth control to being able to marry the person you love too. Ron Johnson is simply too extreme for Wisconsin.
Voters in Milwaukee and across the state have a choice this November: a candidate who wants to return Wisconsin to the days before women had control over their own bodies, or a candidate who believes that everyone should have the right to make their own health care decisions.
I know who I’ll be voting for, and that’s Mandela Barnes.