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Wisconsin Senators, candidates react to Roe draft leak

A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court early Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Washington. A...
A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court early Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Washington. A draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a Politico report released Monday. Whatever the outcome, the Politico report represents an extremely rare breach of the court's secretive deliberation process, and on a case of surpassing importance. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)(Alex Brandon | AP)
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 5:42 AM CDT|Updated: May. 3, 2022 at 11:27 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin lawmakers and candidates are reacting to a leak that shows a draft opinion from the Supreme Court that would seemingly overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that established abortion rights in the United States.

The leak was first reported by Politico and shows a majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that would overturn Roe, and the 1992 decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey that maintained abortion rights.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Alito writes. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

The Supreme Court has not officially acted on Roe, meaning it is still law. The leaked draft opinion was in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Mississippi. A ruling, which is expected this summer, could have a major impact ahead of midterm elections on Nov. 8.

Pro-choice advocates gathered at Houdini Plaza Tuesday.

In January, a Marquette University Law School Poll found a majority of the public opposed to overturning Roe v. Wade. The poll found 72 percent opposed to overturning Roe and 28 percent in favor of overturning Roe.

An overturning of Roe would revert to state laws on the matter. In Wisconsin law, abortion is a Felony. Wisconsin’s law banning abortions dates back 1849. It was made moot by the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. It is still on the books.

Wisconsin law defines an “unborn child” as “a human being from the time of conception until it is born alive.” The law does not apply to “therapeutic abortions” performed by a doctor to save the life of the mother.

Many lawmakers tweeted their reactions.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) called on Congress to pass her Women’s Health Protection bill and eliminate the filibuster. The Women’s Health Protection Act would prohibit governmental restrictions to abortion services.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) was critical of the leak, saying it undermines the judicial system. Johnson is running for re-election.

Wisconsin Right to Life also blamed politics on the leak. “The left, and pro-abortion elected officials, are desperately trying to use this leaked decision to change the narrative. We need to focus on defending innocent human life, and pray for the safety of the Justices,” said Heather Weininger, Wisconsin Right to Life executive director. “A post-Roe Wisconsin is one where all unborn children, regardless of gender, disability diagnosis, and race are valued and protected. The pro-life movement is pro-women and pro-babies. Now, and in a post-Roe reality, our mission is uplifting and supporting women facing unexpected or challenging pregnancies, whether that is through childcare support, housing, or healthcare.”

Democratic Senate candidate Mandela Barnes: “It has never been more clear why we need to abolish the filibuster and take immediate action to protect every person’s right to make decisions about their own bodies. Republicans have proven they will stop at nothing to strip every individual of their right to an abortion. We must act now.”

Democratic candidate Sarah Godlewski: “If this reporting is true, this very well could be Democrats’ last warning before the Supreme Court strips reproductive rights from millions of Americans. We have had almost 50 years to codify Roe into law, we can’t afford to wait one more day. The Senate needs to end the filibuster, codify Roe, and defend reproductive freedom – Democrats need to act now.”

Democratic candidate Alex Lasry: “Tonight’s news of the Supreme Court overturning Roe V. Wade is nothing short of an assault on women’s rights. Women deserve the right to control their own reproductive freedom—it is an essential element to a woman’s right to self determination. I’m enraged and grieving, not just for my wife and daughter, but for women in Wisconsin and all across the country. Right this very minute, Senate Democrats need to show urgency. We must overturn the filibuster in order to protect the fabric and freedom of all Americans. Outlawing abortion harms women across the country and will tear families apart. When I’m elected in November, I’ll fight like hell with everything I have to make sure access to safe and legal abortion in available in Wisconsin and nationwide. We have to send a clear message to Washington, protecting abortion care is an issue worth fighting for, and I promise Wisconsinites I will do just that.”

Democratic candidate Tom Nelson: “The Supreme Court has shown their hand. Senator Chuck Schumer must call a special session to blow up the filibuster and codify Roe now.”

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin called on the public to contact lawmakers about repealing Wisconsin’s abortion law.

“Deciding if or when to become a parent is one of the most personal, life-changing decisions people will make which is why the news leaking from the Court is so devastating,” said Tanya Atkinson, president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin. “Criminalizing abortion in Wisconsin for 1.3 million women of reproductive age is not the future we want for ourselves, friends, families or communities. Most of us can agree that decisions about our health care, including pregnancy, are personal. Every pregnancy and situation is different. Everyone should have the freedom and power to control their own bodies and lives.”

Pro-choice advocates gathered at Houdini Plaza.

On the state level, Gov. Tony Evers (D-Wisconsin) promised to defend access to reproductive health care. He said the consequences of overturning Roe would be “disastrous.”

Republican candidates for governor celebrated the possibility of overturning Roe.

Jason Zimmerman walks us through reactions from political figures.

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