U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) this week introduced legislation to codify the legality of abortion everywhere on American soil.
Twelve states currently have laws prohibiting abortion during much or all of a woman’s pregnancy, and many other states have restrictions that the Baldwin-Blumenthal legislation could threaten. The senators, who count 47 Democratic senators as cosponsors of their bill, want to act federally to reverse these statutes, which were allowed to go into effect when the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 pro-abortion Roe v. Wade ruling last year.
“Every American deserves the freedom to make their own health care decisions without interference from politicians, and Wisconsinites overwhelmingly agree,” Baldwin said in a statement. “The Women’s Health Protection Act is a necessary step to restore Americans’ constitutional right to choose what’s best for their families and allow doctors to do the job they are trained to do – all free from medically unnecessary restrictions.”
The senators lamented the push in some states where abortion is now legal to largely ban the practice. Baldwin and Blumenthal claim current state restrictions on abortion render one in three American women unable to terminate a potential pregnancy.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a statement declaring passage of the Baldwin-Blumenthal legislation will be a priority.
“In too many corners of America today, the far right’s crusade to stifle the bodily autonomy of pregnant people is leading to disproportionate harm for non-white communities as well as LGBTQ+ communities,” he said. “This legislation writes into law that reproductive freedom and access to basic health care should be available to every American, not subject to the whims of an extreme party whose beliefs are out of step with a majority of Americans.”
Wisconsin itself has an 1849 law prohibiting abortion but does not enforce that law because Governor Tony Evers (D) and Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) strongly favor abortion. Whether abortion will remain legal in the Badger State could depend on the April 4 state Supreme Court election.
In that election, pro-abortion Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz faces conservative former state Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly. Whoever wins the election will effectively decide political control of the court on which right-leaning judges currently enjoy a 4-3 majority. The victor will serve a decade-long term.
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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Wisconsin Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].