Posted by on September 21, 2022 4:43 pm
Categories: News Washington Examiner

Wisconsin governor calls special session, seeking pathway to add abortion to ballot

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers. (AP Photo/Andy Manis, File)

Wisconsin governor calls special session, seeking pathway to add abortion to ballot

Cami Mondeaux September 21, 03:47 PMSeptember 21, 03:47 PM Video Embed

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has called a special session for Wisconsin lawmakers to reconvene next month to consider allowing voters to introduce referendums to appear on the ballot, potentially creating a pathway to repeal the state’s abortion ban.

Evers signed an executive order on Wednesday calling lawmakers back into session on Oct. 5 to consider a proposal that would allow Wisconsin voters to change state law through a ballot initiative, something that is typically only done in 26 states, not including Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C. The proposal comes as Evers and other Democratic lawmakers seek to block the state’s 1849 abortion ban that bans the procedure in almost all cases, including rape or incest.


“On the ceiling of the Governor’s Conference Room in the Capitol is a phrase I’ve often repeated over the last three years: ‘the will of the people is the law of the land.’ Well, right now in Wisconsin, when it comes to reproductive freedom, the will of the people isn’t the law of the land — but it damn well should be,” Evers said in a statement.

“Today, I‘m calling the Legislature into special session to create a pathway for Wisconsinites to be able to repeal our 1849-era criminal abortion ban and to ensure women across our state will go back to having the same rights now that they did the day before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade without having to wait for the courts.”

Under previous law, Wisconsin banned abortion after 21 weeks except for when the mother’s life is in danger. However, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, the state reverted to its 1849 abortion law that bans the procedure in nearly all cases.

Evers’s executive order proposes a process for voters to amend the state constitution, creating a statewide “referendum process” that would allow state residents to introduce laws or amendments to be considered on the November ballot. The proposal would allow voters to circumvent the state legislature by receiving a sufficient number of signatures to appear on the ballot.

Evers had previously tried to call a special session to repeal the abortion ban outright, but the Republican-led legislature ended the June 22 meeting without debate on the issue. It’s unclear whether October’s meeting will go any differently.


“Legislative Republicans have left no other choice,” Evers said. “If they aren’t going to uphold the will of the people, then the people of this state should have the right to take a stand at the ballot box. At the end of the day, Wisconsinites — and women in particular — were not only stripped of their reproductive freedom, but they currently don’t have a right to enact the change they need to protect that freedom without having to get permission from the Legislature. That’s just wrong, and it’s time for us to change that.”

Evers’s proposal is the latest move from the Democratic governor to block abortion restrictions in the state, joining Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul in filing a lawsuit in June challenging the abortion ban. That lawsuit has remained stalled as Republican lawmakers seek to delay action.

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