Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers addresses a joint session of the Legislature in the Assembly chambers at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis. on Feb. 15, 2022.
AP Photo/Andy Manis, File
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers vowed to grant clemency to doctors charged under the state’s abortion ban.
The first-term Democrat slammed the Supreme Court’s Friday ruling which overturned Roe v. Wade.
Wisconsin’s law dates back to 1849 and triggered back into effect following the court’s decision.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said this weekend that he would offer clemency to any doctors charged under the state’s antiquated law banning nearly all abortions, which dates back more than a century.
The 1849 law was enacted long before Roe v. Wade was instated and remained a Wisconsin statute even after the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case rendered it moot. But after the nation’s top court overturned Roe on Friday in a 5-4 majority decision, Wisconsin’s 173-year-old abortion ban triggered back into effect.
The state’s ban makes performing abortions a felony and doctors charged under the statute face up to six years in prison, as well as fines up to $10,000. The law’s only exception allows for abortion if it is needed to save the life of the mother. The law does not offer exceptions in instances of rape, incest, or the mother’s general health.
While state lawmakers could ostensibly repeal or supersede the old law, Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature has offered no indication they will do so.
During a Saturday rally at the Wisconsin State Democratic Party convention, Evers, a first-term Democratic governor, slammed the Supreme Court’s “bullshit” ruling and vowed to grant clemency to any doctors who find themselves prosecuted under the law.
The convention was delayed following an impromptu abortion rights rally, according to Wisconsin Public Radio, during which Evers reportedly became emotional and decried the effect Friday’s SCOTUS decision could have on his seven granddaughters.
“The 1849 law says that anybody that provides an abortion is subject to a felony, one to six years,” Evers said in a speech. “Did you ever think about the word clemency? I will provide clemency to any physician that is charged under that law.”
“I don’t think that a law that was written before the Civil War, or before women secured the right to vote, should be used to dictate these intimate decisions on reproductive health,” the governor added.
Evers also used the platform to warn of further attacks on reproductive rights in the state if he should lose the upcoming November election to one of four Republicans currently running to unseat him in a hotly-contested race. All four candidates have said they would let the 1849 law stand, according to NBC News.
“You think it’s bad now? The four Republicans that are going after me, one of them we’re going to beat, they are going to make it worse,” Evers said, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which was first to report the governor’s comments.
The governor’s statement comes after several local and state Democratic officials already pledged not to enforce the abortion ban, including Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and multiple other district attorneys at the county level. Kaul also faces reelection later this year.
Wisconsin’s Planned Parenthood clinics temporarily suspended abortion services following the Friday decision.