As Roe v. Wade Hangs in the Balance, is it 1849 or 2022?

On May 2, a leaked draft opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court showed that our nation’s highest court intends to overturn Roe v. Wade, our constitutional right to abortion.

The leaked opinion from the Supreme Court is an unacceptable roll back of our constitutional rights. It’s evidence of a frenzied effort from politicians and judges to restrict our freedom to choose, and continues a long running war on women, healthcare, and reproductive rights.

Right now, Roe v. Wade is the only thing standing between us and a 173-year backslide in Wisconsin’s healthcare system. If the highest court’s draft opinion becomes final, Wisconsin would revert back to a criminal abortion ban written into law in 1849.

This statute has not been enforceable since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled abortion was legal in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, but it was never repealed and remains on the books.

The 1849 law makes abortion illegal, even in cases of rape or incest, and would also threaten doctors who provide or facilitate abortions in Wisconsin with felonies. It could force local clinics to close their doors for good, barring millions of Americans from access to essential medical care.

By punishing not only those who are in critical need of reproductive healthcare, but also the medical professionals giving them a safe choice, politicians and supreme court justices against Roe v. Wade are telling Wisconsinites one thing: your body, their choice.

26 states would lose access to safe abortions if this draft opinion were to become final. That means 36 million women could be stripped of their right to make decisions about their own bodies. Those 36 million women aren’t strangers – they’re our neighbors, our friends, our children, and people who make our communities what they are.

For now, abortion is still legal. The draft opinion that was leaked has no current legal authority. But attacks on reproductive freedom are real and significant. The high court is opening the door for politicians to impose new restrictions on people’s freedom to control their own bodies.

This is a wake-up call to come together to protect and support our friends and family members’ ability to decide if or when they become a parent.

No judge, no politician, no elected or partisan-appointed official should be able to take away our right to make personal medical decisions for ourselves, or take away our ability to decide if we want to start a family.

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A Better Wisconsin Together is a state-based research and communications hub for progressives.