Abortion rights are under siege — everywhere from Poland to Wisconsin.
A trip I made earlier this year to Poland brought home to me the precarious state of abortion rights here in the United States. Poland was once a beacon for reproductive rights in Europe. By 1993, abortion rights were stripped away when the Solidarity government made a political union with the Catholic Church. Today, Poland has among the strictest rules against abortion in the world.
It could happen here. It is happening here. So far this year, U.S. states that have passed bans based on gestational age (often before the pregnancy has been detected) include Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Utah. And let’s not forget Alabama, which has imposed a virtual ban.
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The appointment of anti-abortion Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, replacing the pro-choice swing voter Justice Anthony Kennedy, has spurred these draconian legislative efforts. Anti-abortion legislatures are rushing to pass as many restrictions as possible to overturn Roe v. Wade. The most likely scenario is that the Supreme Court would declare abortion a “states’ rights” issue. Should this happen, Wisconsin’s statute criminalizing abortion, dating back to 1849, would go into immediate effect. Physicians who perform abortions could go to prison for up to six years.
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That’s why Wisconsin citizens need to demand that the state Legislature repeal this 170-year-old law by passing the Abortion Access Act, introduced by Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, and Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison. We must make certain that in the doomsday scenario of Roe v. Wade being effectively abrogated, many Wisconsin women, along with their doctors, aren’t endangered.
And we need to take countermeasures on the national level. That’s why Congress must finally schedule a hearing on the Women’s Health Protection Act, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and about 240 others in Congress, which would preempt these archaic state laws.
No liberty is more primary than the right to control one’s own body, fertility and family size — and thereby one’s own destiny. We in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the United States need to be marching in the streets, protesting in the state capitols and demanding that our state and federal representatives vote to protect the basic right to decide if and when to become a mother.
Let’s learn a lesson from Poland. Don’t let it happen here.
Gaylor is co-administrator of the volunteer Women’s Medical Fund of Wisconsin, an abortion rights charity serving nearly 1,000 low-income Wisconsin residents last year: wmfwisconsin.org.