Happy New Year! Here we are with a brand-new year starting—just a few days old. And what a year it will be here in Wisconsin and across the country if for no other reason than that this is yet another presidential election year. Once again, Wisconsin, because we are so very purple, is one of a handful of targeted states for this election cycle. Both parties will be very visible in our state, working hard for those ten electoral votes we offer the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote here.
While the presidential election swirls, we are also in these early months of this new year finishing up a legislative session. From now to whenever the Senate and the Assembly wrap up their floor sessions—we’ve heard anywhere from late February to late March—legislation will be coming fast and furious, which means quickly held public hearings for fast-tracked bills, followed by some very busy days on the floor of both the senate and the assembly.
As last year wound down, we got a glimpse of a bill that Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos thinks would be a good one to join this end-of-session fray. Vos indicated in a media interview that he would like to have introduced and passed a bill that would ban abortion in our state at and beyond fifteen weeks. Vos wants to structure the proposal so that if the governor signs it, it would then have to go to “we the people” as a binding referendum on a statewide ballot and pass before it could become the law. Vos thinks this could all happen so that the referendum is on the April ballot.
Shortly after Vos made this public statement, the pro-life Heal Without Harm Coalition responded, strongly objecting to the speaker’s idea. The Heal Without Harm Coalition members—Pro-Life Wisconsin, Wisconsin Catholic Conference, Wisconsin Family Action, and Wisconsin Right to Life—laid out in a press release their reasons for why the Speaker’s idea is a bad one.
The Coalition acknowledges that no one has seen the actual language of the proposed bill and referendum. That said, the members stand firm in defense of the legitimacy of Wis. Stat. 940.04, Wisconsin’s pre-Roe abortion ban and will oppose a referendum bill that cedes the lives of preborn children.
What the Coalition is asserting is that as long as there has been no final court decision indicating that our pre-Roe abortion ban is not enforceable, the members will not consider a proposal that reinstates abortion.
Recall that shortly after the US Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that overturned Roe and sent the issue of abortion back to the states, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul at the behest of Governor Evers, filed a lawsuit in Dane County alleging the pre-Roe ban is unenforceable. Last month, Dane County Judge Diane Schlipper rendered her opinion on the case, saying the pertinent statute does not apply to consensual abortion, but rather to feticide, the non-consensual killing of an unborn child.
Sheboygan District Attorney Joel Urmanski, one of the three defendants in the case, has appealed that decision and has even asked the state Supreme Court to take the case directly, skipping the appellate court, since the case will be before the high court eventually and getting it there sooner makes sense. To date, the Supreme Court has not responded to Urmanski’s petition.
While this court case is still in play, the Heal Without Harm Coalition will oppose any bill that seeks to reinstate abortion.
The Coalition also reminded legislators that being pro-life is more than being against abortion. It’s also about protecting the women in crisis pregnancies and promoting alternatives to abortion. With that in mind, the Coalition has called on Speaker Vos and the Assembly to pass several bills that have already passed in the Senate. Assembly bill 343 increases the tax exemption for dependents and includes preborn children, AB 344 provides funding for pregnancy resource centers, and AB 336 creates grants to support adoption.
When the legislature returns later this week, we will begin to get an idea of the response to this pushback on this proposal.
Just this one example illustrates how the next couple of months in our state government will go—and then we will all feel the full force of the presidential election. These are the times that require that Christians be unusually prayerful, wise, and discerning as we prepare for and actually fulfill our civic duty in this new year in a way that truly honors God.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you that God, through the Prophet Hosea, said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
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