Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday doubled down on his opposition to Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban, saying he would not sign legislation updating the law to include exceptions for victims of sexual assault or incest, and instead insisted the law needs to be repealed.
“I believe women do have the right to make reproductive health decisions for themselves,” Evers said. “It shouldn't be a politician's choice. … No, I wouldn't sign it because that leaves the underlying law in place.”
Evers made the comments during an event hosted by the Rotary Club of Milwaukee where he took questions from a panel of journalists consisting of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Molly Beck, WISN-12’s Diana Gutierrez and TMJ4 News’ Ryan Jenkins.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned Roe vs. Wade, its long-standing precedent establishing the constitutional right to end a pregnancy, Evers has been a vocal opponent of the state’s 1849 ban on abortion. He’s taken several steps to try and repeal the ban, including calling two different special sessions of the Legislature that lasted just seconds after Republican lawmakers rejected his proposals.
He also filed a lawsuit with Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul seeking to have the state’s 173-year-old ban scrubbed. That lawsuit is still pending in Dane County Circuit Court.
Evers’ comments about the ban come just weeks before the Nov. 8 election, in which the governor will face a tough challenge from Republican Tim Michels. The governor has zeroed in on abortion in recent weeks, working to brand next month’s contest as a referendum on abortion access in Wisconsin.
The Democrat has also sought to draw a sharp contrast between his own views on abortion access and those of Michels, who told WISN-12 in June that the state’s 1849 ban was an “exact mirror” of his position. Michels later said that if lawmakers passed a bill adding exceptions to the ban for victims of rape and incest, he would sign it into law.
Evers said making changes to the state’s current ban “is not where I am,” adding that he thinks “we should codify Roe vs. Wade and get back to the way it has been for the last 50 years in the state of Wisconsin.”