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Josh Kaul Chris Taylor

Josh Kaul and Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, criticize Brad Schimel's Affordable Care Act lawsuit Thursday. 

If Attorney General Brad Schimel is successful in his lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Wisconsin’s most vulnerable would hurt, Democratic Attorney General candidate Josh Kaul said Thursday.

“That suit is not in the interest of Wisconsinites. It’s wrong,” he said.

The criticism has been a common refrain from Kaul and other Democrats who say repealing the law wholesale would also remove protections for those with preexisting conditions.

Kaul and Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, pointed to data Thursday from a Kaiser Health News report showing that 25 percent of adults under 65 have a preexisting condition in Wisconsin.

“Why on earth would Brad Schimel be using taxpayer money to lead a lawsuit to gut these very important protections?” Taylor said.

Schimel is leading a 20-state lawsuit aiming to "undo the harmful effects" of Obamacare, according to the state Department of Justice. Schimel filed the suit in February.

“Obamacare causes premiums to rise and coverage to fall, forcing Wisconsin and other states to take extreme, costly measures to protect their citizens’ health and pocketbooks,” Schimel said in a statement earlier this year.

In a statement Thursday, Schimel said that Obamacare has resulted in higher health insurance premiums and cost the state jobs. 

"Josh Kaul may not have known this since he was living on the East and West Coasts, but prior to Obamacare, Wisconsin had among the lowest rate of uninsured people in the nation because of a vibrant free market and a successful high risk pool that provided options for those with pre-existing and serious medical conditions," he said in an email. 

In June, the U.S. Department of Justice said in court filings that the law's individual mandate was unconstitutional. A federal judge is expected to rule on the case later this year.  

Kaul also answered a question Thursday on how he would handle Wisconsin's nearly universal ban on abortion if he were elected attorney general. Although Wisconsin has laws banning abortion,  the federal Roe v. Wade decision allows it nationwide, trumping the state’s laws. If the federal decision is overturned, the federal court would align with Wisconsin laws, putting them into effect.

Whether Roe v. Wade would be overturned if President Donald Trump’s latest U.S. Supreme Court appointee, Brett Kavanaugh, takes the bench, has been a concern for some states and pro-choice groups that want to preserve the abortion option for women.

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Kaul said he believes if Kavanaugh is approved by Congress, the ruling would likely be overturned. He said he would encourage Wisconsin's Legislature to change its abortion laws before conducting a legal analysis to see whether the state's laws are defensible on the issue. 

"I think there the question is, 'is a law reasonably defensible?'" he said. "I think the AG’s job is to defend Wisconsin’s law."

Kaul's comments come one day before Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kelda Roys is set to release TV and digital ads focusing on a woman's right to choose an abortion. Roys is the former executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin.

"I can't believe that I’m having to fight the same fights that my grandmother fought," she says in the ad. 

In a statement Thursday, Roys said Wisconsin women are "facing a serious threat to our right to choose."

The latest Marquette poll found 63 percent of Wisconsinites support legal abortion in all or most cases. 

 

Katelyn Ferral is The Cap Times' public affairs and investigative reporter. She joined the paper in 2015 and previously covered the energy industry for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. She's also covered state politics and government in North Carolina.