Coalition of governors led by Wisconsin's Evers urges Congress to protect abortion rights

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Seventeen Democratic governors signed a letter urging congressional leaders to 'take immediate action' to protect reproductive rights.

Following the leak on Monday of the draft of a Supreme Court opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, a potential ruling in the Mississippi abortion ban case that could result in the overturning of the 1973 court decision in Roe v. Wade that affirmed the right to abortion in the United States, a coalition of 17 Democratic governors led by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has sent a letter to leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate urging that they "take immediate action to protect reproductive rights across the nation."

The letter, addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, says, "In light of disturbing reports regarding a draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization revealing the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade— which has long guaranteed rights Americans have relied upon for almost half a century—it is imperative that Congress acts swiftly to ensure that all Americans continue to have meaningful access to reproductive healthcare and abortion." 

Democratic governors are taking steps to ensure that the possible overturning of Roe would not criminalize abortion for millions of patients and their health care providers.  

Wisconsin is one of at least 23 states that would be likely to ban or restrict abortion. The state has on its books a statute adopted in 1849 that could be used to prosecute people who have abortions and physicians who perform them, with potential penalties of up to $10,000 in fines or six years in prison.

In a tweet on Tuesday afternoon, Evers said: "Today, I'm leading a coalition of 17 governors to call on Congress to immediately protect access to abortion and reproductive rights. We cannot wait for #SCOTUS to overturn #RoeVWade. We need action now, and we need to pass the #WHPA.”

The Women's Health Protection Act is a piece of federal legislation that would protect the right to abortion throughout the United States. It passed the House in September 2021 but has not yet passed the Senate. 

Writing the protections of Roe into U.S. statute would be difficult, however. As Senate rules stand, passing the bill over a filibuster would require 60 votes, a total Senate Democrats cannot currently muster. 

Evers assured residents of his own state, "Abortion is still legal in Wisconsin. An official ruling hasn't been made yet but I'll continue to fight for reproductive freedom and I will veto any legislation crossing my desk that will threaten access to healthcare.”

Other Democratic governors have issued similar statements. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vowed on Monday to "fight like hell" to protect abortion rights. She reminded Michiganders of the lawsuit she filed in April to prevent Michigan's 1931 abortion ban from taking effect if Roe is overturned.  

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe tweeted on Monday, "Abortion is and will remain legal in Pennsylvania." He reminded readers, "3 things to keep in mind: 1. An official ruling has not yet been made 2. Once #SCOTUS does rule, it's up to states to pass legislation to change abortion laws 3. I'll veto any anti-choice legislation that lands on my desk."

Gov. Steve Sisolak tweeted: "In Nevada, we're committed to protecting reproductive rights - I've signed legislation affirming this right and expanding access to healthcare. And as long as I'm Governor, I'll continue to do so."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.