Wisconsin leaders react to Supreme Court decision throwing out Roe v. Wade

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s elected officials quickly reacted Friday morning after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, reverting the state back to a law it has had on the books since 1849 that criminalizes abortion with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

Below are statements being issued by lawmakers at the local, state and federal level in the wake of the decision.

State Legislature

State Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R):

“This is a massive victory for the sanctity of life in our Nation. The Supreme Court’s long-awaited decision restores lawmaking authority to the states and finally gives Wisconsin voters a voice in how they want to protect the most vulnerable.”

“The surge of violence and on-going threats by pro-abortion extremists will not intimidate or deter us from upholding every individual’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R):

“Safeguarding the lives of unborn children shouldn’t be controversial. Today’s decision reaffirms their lives are precious and worthy of protection.

“I agree with the justices in their opinion when they say, ‘The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.’

“I urge those who disagree with the decision to remain peaceful.”

Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley (D):

“Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision is heartbreaking, but unfortunately expected. The conservatives on the Supreme Court have overturned 50 years of precedent. For years they complained about judicial activism, well now we know it was nothing but a smokescreen to get to their desired results, results that are opposed by the overwhelming majority of this nation’s citizens. A sad day, and a harbinger of what might be in store in the future. What is next? The right to marry? The right to contraceptives?”

Assembly Minority Leader Rep. Greta Neubauer (D):

“Let’s call this what it is: a brazen, political act that rolls back essential human rights. By striking down a precedent of nearly 50 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has sent our country back to the 1970’s and Wisconsin back to the 1840’s.

“During Governor Evers’ special session on protecting reproductive care, we had an opportunity to protect Wisconsinites’ access to abortion, but legislative Republicans ignored the call and the will of the people of Wisconsin. Republicans’ unwillingness to act is inexcusable, and they will be directly responsible for the negative outcomes of this decision. The Supreme Court’s decision to throw out historically enshrined protections and the GOP’s inaction will have significant consequences for our friends, families, neighbors, and communities.

“Let me be clear: we will not stop fighting for access to comprehensive healthcare, including abortion. While today hurts, we will not be deterred in our pursuit of reproductive rights.”

State Senator Kelda Roys (D):

“Five conservative extremists have traded the US Supreme Court’s legitimacy and the legal personhood of women for their own selfish crusade to impose their narrow religious views on an unwilling nation. Despite some four out of five Americans wanting abortion to remain safe and legal, five Justices have voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, rendering abortion illegal or unavailable in about half the states, including Wisconsin.

Wisconsinites now face a difficult road to accessing abortion, with an 1849 criminal abortion ban still on the books, along with many restrictions and regulations on abortion been passed over the last 50 years. Because of the legal uncertainty, many physicians will not risk felony charges and years in prison to continue providing abortion care. States where abortion remains legal will be overwhelmed with demand, so it will be challenging even for those with the means to travel. To change this, we must have political leaders who support the right to choose and who will work to restore our legal rights, at every level of government.

That said, Wisconsinites can safely and legally self-manage abortions now and in the future. Medication abortion is safe, easy to use, and private – every person of reproductive age should order one now at AidAccess.org. It costs about $100 and takes approximately 4 weeks to arrive, so it’s important to order now before you need it, since it must be taken in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy for maximum effectiveness. There are currently NO legal penalties for people who self-manage abortion – despite the efforts of GOP politicians.

When abortion is illegal, women die. Millions of people’s lives will be made worse by these five right-wing justices, and our nation as a whole is less fair, less healthy, and less free as a result of today’s lawless and unjust decision. I will continue to fight for reproductive freedom and justice for everyone. Being able to control our own bodies and our own reproduction is not just a constitutional imperative but a fundamental human right that no judge or politician can erase.”

State Senator Melissa Agard (D):

“This is a horrible day for our country. For decades, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey have protected the reproductive freedom for millions of Americans and Wisconsinites. Now, in our dystopic reality, our children will have fewer freedom than their parents.

“Every person must have the right to make reproductive healthcare decisions that are best for them. No government should interfere with complex medical decisions made privately between a person and their doctor. Instead, the extremist conservative members of the U.S. Supreme Court have prioritized their overtly partisan agenda rather than upholding the sacred right to bodily autonomy.

“Safe, accessible abortions have been vital health care for so many people across our country and in Wisconsin. This ruling today is an enormous overreach in effort to control and dehumanize reproductive healthcare. Forcing someone to continue a pregnancy against their will is an assault on their fundamental rights and liberty.

“In Wisconsin, this means our state may go back to an archaic 173-year-old law that banned abortion. Less than a year after we became a state, white male legislators passed an abortion ban that may now go back into effect because we never codified Roe or passed the Abortion Rights Preservation Act. Some Wisconsinites will go out of state to receive the care they need—but many will be forced to have unsafe, illegal abortions here. This is unacceptable, and this isn’t the Wisconsin way.

“I am disgusted and ashamed by this decision. As Wisconsinites, we must come together and take action to protect reproductive freedom for all of the people in our state.”

State Senator Roger Roth (R):

“Since the time of our state’s founding, Wisconsin has been a pro-life state. This decision to reverse Roe and Casey and return the issue of abortion to the states is exactly how our founding
fathers envisioned these questions to be handled.

Today we celebrate the thousands of babies that will be saved because the state’s existing statute is once again the law of the land.

The Pro-Life movement must redouble our efforts, to help pregnant mothers in crisis with the services they need. We must streamline the state’s adoption laws to make adopting a child a smoother, less stressful, and faster process. We must ensure that crisis pregnancy centers have the tools and resources they need to counsel pregnant mothers in need.

This is most certainly a victory for the most vulnerable, but our work to protect life must not end here.”

State Senator Chris Kapenga (R):

“The fundamental role of government in this country, and in this state, is to protect the rights of the individual. These rights are never subservient to government, the masses, or another individual, as seen in other lesser forms of government. Our individual liberties are the foundation to our Republic.

“In light of the United States Supreme Court decision, the fundamental question every person needs to ask is this: At what point does an individual life begin and take on this protection of rights?

“Wisconsin statute specifies that an “unborn child” is a human being from the time of conception until it is born alive. And, if there is a medical issue where the life of the mother is in jeopardy, the life of the mother can be saved. These statutes are now in effect.

“If we breach the established doctrine of individual rights at the point of when life begins, even if the circumstances around that life are less than ideal, or even outright terrible, we infringe upon the rights of that individual and it becomes a dangerous world where government decides who is worthy of living.

“Unless there is evidence indicating that those who came before us made an error, I will support Wisconsin’s current law that protects the right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness for every unborn child.”

Wisconsin Governor and gubernatorial candidates

Gov. Tony Evers (D):

“This is an unfathomably grim day for our state and our country. I am heartbroken—for the millions of Wisconsinites and Americans the U.S. Supreme Court has abandoned and for our country and our democratic institutions. This is an absolutely disastrous and unconscionable decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the consequences of which I hoped to never see again in my lifetime. I know many across our state and nation are scared—worried about their own health and about the health and safety of their family members, friends, and neighbors, who could very soon see the ability to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions stripped from them. My heart breaks for them, I grieve for them, and I pray for their strength and courage in the days ahead.

“Our work to do the right thing for the people of this state must continue. We will fight this decision in every way we can with every power we have. As people in Wisconsin and across our country make their voices heard in the days and months ahead, we will do so peacefully and without violence. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again today: I will never stop fighting to make sure that every single Wisconsinite has the right to consult their family, their faith, and their doctor to make the reproductive healthcare decision that is right for them, and without interference from politicians or members of the Supreme Court who don’t know anything about their life circumstances, values, or responsibilities.”

Candidate Rebecca Kleefisch (R):

“Today’s decision is a victory for unborn babies across America. Countless lives will be saved because of the wisdom of the current Supreme Court.
“Abortion harms both moms and babies. After this win, the pro-life community can focus all of our efforts to supporting moms, dads, and their babies to promote a culture of life and success for families.

“Now the abortion debate goes back to states like Wisconsin, where it always belonged. As a state we must hold firm for the voiceless and protect their right to life — and that means enforcing the laws we have on the books. I remain committed to my 100% pro-life stance.

“One day, we will all look back on Roe v. Wade as one of the U.S. Supreme Court’s most egregious cases that allowed the killing of more than 60 million babies over nearly half a century. We must look to a future where we value life and support moms and babies.”

Candidate Tim Michels (R):

“It is important that we continue to compassionately work on winning hearts and minds. We need to build a world that is safer for all, a world where better education is provided, and an economy that allows for all to prosper. Life must always be protected. We should not demonize those who don’t believe that, but rather redouble our efforts to show how they can provide a high quality of life for their children.”

U.S. Senate and Senate Candidates

Sen. Ron Johnson (R):

“Today is a victory for life and for those who have fought for decades to protect the unborn. For almost fifty years the decision of nine unelected Justices have prevented a democratically derived consensus on the profound moral issue of abortion to be formed. This decision will now allow that democratic process to unfold in each state to determine at what point does society have the responsibility to protect life. Hopefully, the debate will be conducted with sincerity, compassion, and respect for the broad range of views that people hold.”

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D):

“An activist majority of the Supreme Court has overturned Roe and nearly 50 years of precedent, taking away the constitutional rights of American women to make their own personal choices about their body, their health, and their family. Republicans have taken Wisconsin women back to 1849 and it is Republicans who want to keep us there with support for having politicians interfere in the freedoms of women who will now have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers have had for decades. I ask people to join this fight with their voices and their votes because we will not be taken back, we will move forward.”

Candidate Mandela Barnes (D):

“Like it does for so many Americans, this decision hits close to home for me. I might not be here today if Roe v. Wade hadn’t allowed my mother to make the best decision for her health and safety.

“This decision will punish women and cost people their lives. The American people deserve elected leaders who will go to the mat to protect our basic freedoms and that’s what I intend to do. It’s past time to abolish the filibuster and make Roe the law of the land.”

Candidate Sarah Godlewski (D):

“Today, millions of women and families in Wisconsin and across America are waking up to this devastating news: we no longer have the right to make our own health care decisions. It’s time to act, to mobilize, and to take back our rights and freedoms. Ron Johnson and the Republicans won’t stop until abortion is banned, doctors are criminalized, and women are punished in every corner of America. This is personal for me, I do not want my generation or the next generation to have fewer rights. When I’m elected to the Senate, reproductive freedom will be a priority not an afterthought.”

Candidate Tom Nelson (D):

“June 24, 2022, is a day of infamy for women, for the Supreme Court and for the U.S. Constitution. Never in our lifetimes did we think that we would live in a nation where freedoms would decrease instead of increase. The Supreme Court’s extremist majority showed its true colors – trading away basic rights and freedoms for a backwards, dystopian vision that the majority of Americans DON’T want.

I know that so many folks in our community are grieving, outraged and shaken. I want you to know that I will NEVER stop fighting to protect the right to choose for women across our state and our country.

In the post-Roe America that is now our reality, the Senate is the frontline for abortion rights. We are just one Senate vote away from codifying a woman’s right to choose into national law – and ensuring every American can make their own decisions about their body and their future.

With Wisconsin’s 1849 criminal abortion ban still on the books, we need bold, immediate action in the U.S. Senate to protect women’s lives. Democrats must end the filibuster, codify a national right to a safe and legal abortion and expand the Supreme Court. I’m the only candidate in this Senate race to advocate for this position.”

U.S. Representatives

Rep. Mark Pocan (D):

“I’m angry — but I’m not surprised. Republicans have been working to eliminate abortion for years, and they won’t stop here. The domino effect this decision could have on our rights is horrifying. We must turn our anger into urgency, and act immediately to protect our freedoms.”

Rep. Bryan Steil (R):

“I’m proudly pro-life. Today’s decision will bring this important issue back to the states. This is a great victory for life.”