Abortion Providers in Wisconsin Will Be Granted Clemency, Gov. Tony Evers Says

Over the weekend, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) condemned the recent Supreme Court ruling upending abortion protections across the country, and vowed to legally protect anyone charged under an 1849 anti-abortion law that may go into effect in the state.

At a political rally on Saturday, as Democrats in Wisconsin were gathering in La Crosse for their annual convention, the governor said that the Court’s ruling on Friday — which ended nearly 50 years of abortion protections that were established by the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision — was wrongly decided.

Because of the ruling from the far right Court, a statute from 1849 will likely go back into effect in Wisconsin. That law penalizes anyone “other than the mother” who performs an abortion with a felony crime. It grants exceptions for cases where a physician determines that a person’s health is jeopardized by a pregnancy, but only after two other physicians agree to make an exception. The law makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

The normally reserved Evers said that the ruling affected him and his family personally, and used an expletive to show his anger over the decision.

“I have seven granddaughters who are girls or young women,” Evers said on Saturday. “Yesterday they” and others who are able to become pregnant “were made second-class citizens, and that’s bullshit.”

Evers, who is up for re-election in this year’s midterm races, added that he’d use his gubernatorial powers to grant clemency to any Wisconsin physician that is convicted of performing an abortion that is not in compliance with the 1849 statute, which outlaws almost all forms of the procedure.

“These decisions should be made between a woman and her doctor, family, and faith,” Evers said during the rally, adding that he didn’t believe a law “written before the Civil War, or before women secured the right to vote” should determine people’s choices regarding their reproductive health.

In a pre-taped interview that aired on Saturday, Evers said that his office was looking at ways to prevent the 1849 law from taking effect. “We’re going to do everything we can under my power, whether it’s executive action or working with others on opportunities to fight this,” he said.

Evers joins a growing list of officials who are pledging not to enforce restrictive laws or outright bans on abortion in their jurisdictions. Shortly after the Supreme Court issued its ruling ending Roe, a group of more than 80 district attorneys and other elected officials, organized through the Fair and Just Prosecution group, said that they would not charge physicians or patients with crimes around abortion. The group represents 90 million residents in the U.S. across 29 different states.

“Not all of us agree on a personal or moral level on the issue of abortion. But we stand together in our firm belief that prosecutors have a responsibility to refrain from using limited criminal legal system resources to criminalize personal medical decisions,” the attorneys said in a statement.