Just over a week ago, women and people at risk of becoming pregnant across the country were stunned when their bodily autonomy was suddenly suppressed with a judicial pen by a conservative-majority US Supreme Court. They saw it coming. But the reality was still quite shocking. The right for a person to choose what happens to their own body, a right that has been constantly defended for almost 50 years, had just disappeared. Residents of states with forward-thinking legislatures have gained additional protections over the years that mean they can still retain the right to choose. But for people who can get pregnant in states, like Wisconsin, that still have archaic anti-abortion laws, it’s time to get busy and figure out what’s next.
On the day the court’s decision was announced, June 24, our state’s 1849 criminal abortion ban became law again. Governor Evers had called a special session of the Legislature days earlier to introduce the Abortion Rights Preservation Act, but Republicans in the majority-rule state simply gave and gave, essentially refusing. to address the issue.
Crossing state lines?
Planned Parenthood Wisconsin kicked off with a live online press conference on June 24. They announced that they were temporarily suspending abortion services until there was official clarification as to whether the old law was applicable or not. Tanya Atkinson, president of Planned Parenthood Wisconsin, noted that “there were people who drove, for hours in some cases, into our waiting room [on that Friday morning], who had made their own health care decisions. When the decision was made, we had to come out into the waiting room and tell these people…the decision you made for yourself, your family, your future is no longer yours in the state of Wisconsin.
Planned Parenthood Wisconsin also began making arrangements, with the help of patient navigators, to help people cross state lines into Illinois and Minnesota, where abortion is still safe and legal. Some Wisconsin OB/GYNs obtain medical licenses from Illinois so they can help deal with the inevitable influx of people seeking treatment there. Planned Parenthood will continue to offer and even expand family planning services and make contraception readily available to those who need it.
During the press conference, Planned Parenthood Wisconsin Medical Director Dr. Kathy King noted that under the now re-enacted law in Wisconsin, “a physician treating a pregnant patient with medical complications will now faces criminal charges and jail time if a prosecutor disagrees. that a medically indicated abortion they performed was enough to save lives. Adding: “History has taught us that banning abortions won’t stop them, in Wisconsin or any other state, but we know it will delay access to medical care and make abortion less safe.”
Friends of the Shepherd
Help support Milwaukee’s Free Local Weekly.
When Texas introduced its tough SB8 abortion law last year, a handful of major US corporations added “abortion travel” to their benefits package. Since that decision was made, more and more companies have followed suit. In some cases, this benefit can reach $4,000. Employers on this growing list include Amazon, Bank of America, Cigna, Citigroup, CVS Health, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ikea US, JPMorgan Chase, Kroger, Starbucks and Target.
In addition to Planned Parenthood Wisconsin, several organizations work in Wisconsin to help people who have unplanned, unwanted, or dangerous pregnancies, such as the Midwest Access Coalition, the National Network of Abortion Funds, and the Chicago Abortion Fund. For people looking to help, whether it’s donating their time or money, or for those looking to organize and raise awareness, these are great groups to start with.
Atkinson offered these reassuring words at the end of the press conference: “If anyone in Wisconsin needs an abortion, please contact Planned Parenthood Wisconsin. We can provide some of that care and we can help people navigate it. Our priority is the health of the people of Wisconsin and we will absolutely never give up. Not now. Never.”