Admittedly this past week has been different from any other week in our organization’s history. The firebombing on our office required our total attention. From the moment we were informed, we knew what had prompted the attack that ended up making national news. The graffiti on our exterior wall made it clear. We were attacked in reaction to the leaked US Supreme Court draft opinion in the Dobbs case, a landmark case that could overturn Roe v. Wade.
This week it’s time to return to the bigger issue here. What happens in Wisconsin if the final opinion the high court issues actually does overturn the mis-adjudicated, dastardly 1973 decision that legalized abortion on demand in all fifty states?
First, should the US Supreme Court’s final opinion be close to what we saw in the draft opinion, then the issue of abortion returns to the states, which is where it should have been all along. Abortion doesn’t automatically become illegal all across the country. Pure and simple, the original Roe v Wade, was bad law and foisted on the American people the killing of unborn children whether the individual states wanted that or not.
And that is what the current case could end up being about, at least as reflected in the leaked draft opinion—respecting federalism and getting the issue back closer to the people by returning it to the states.
Should this happen, Wisconsin is one of several states that in the years since 1973 has kept in the law a statute that criminalizes most abortions. Pro-life legislators, organizations, and individual citizens have worked hard to keep the 1849 law in place in anticipation of the day when Roe is overturned.
We believe the statute is enforceable, but regret that it has a “life of the mother” exception. That phrase is not clearly defined in the law and provides potential room for abortionists to find a way to make every abortion about the life of the mother.
That said, the law can be amended legislatively in ways that will strengthen it. Ideally, this exception would be removed; but at a minimum the phrase “life of the mother” can be more narrowly defined.
The current Wisconsin Attorney General, the so-called “top-cop,” Democrat Josh Kaul has already said he will not enforce the law. He first said this shortly after the Supreme Court held oral arguments in the Dobbs case in early December, and he reiterated it shortly after the draft opinion was leaked. Never mind that the job of the attorney general is to uphold duly enacted Wisconsin law, which the pre-Roe law certainly is.
This position the attorney general is taking will no doubt result in lawsuits. We also have every reason to believe pro-abortion groups will file a lawsuit immediately after Roe is overturned, challenging the statute’s enforceability.
Suffice it to say, the issue of abortion will not go away when and if the US Supreme Court puts this issue back to the states. In a very real sense, our work will just be beginning as we engage in every way possible to protect the life of every unborn baby and to give women in unplanned or crisis pregnancies help, compassion, and encouragement to choose life for their babies.
The final decision from the US Supreme Court could come anytime now. We’ll certainly have it by the end of June. While we don’t know if that final opinion will be the end of Roe, we must plan now for a post-Roe world. We must prepare beyond legislative work. Churches need to be planning how they can minister to women seeking help in these pregnancies, including working closely with and supporting in every way nearby pregnancy care centers. These centers have always been the best ground game we have in the pro-life movement, and they will become even more important in a post-Roe Wisconsin.
What an amazing time that we can talk realistically about a Wisconsin where abortion on demand is not legal! We’re not there yet—but I can assure you, again, that intimidation and bullying, even a violent attack, won’t keep us from being ready for that time and the work that we will need to do. It will take all of us to truly restore a culture of life in our great state. But I think all of us are up to the task because we realize how very much is at stake.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
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