Election /

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers Will Not Sign Abortion Exemption Bill

Evers has backed a lawsuit seeking to have the state's 1894 ban on abortions declared unconstitutional

The governor of Wisconsin will not sign a bill permitting abortion if the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother or was conceived through rape or incest.

No, I wouldn’t sign it because that leaves the underlying law in place, which is just a ban on abortion because politicians here in Wisconsin decided they know more than the women who want to have reproductive decisions made by themselves,” Governor Tony Evers said at a Rotary Club of Milwaukee event co-sponsored by Milwaukee Press Club and Wispolitics.com.

Evers, a Democrat, said the state legislature should codify the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade and “get back to the way it had been for the last 50 years here in the state of Wisconsin.”

Currently, an over 100-year-old state law makes abortion illegal from conception unless the procedure is necessary to save the mother’s life.

Attorney General Josh Kaul, with Evers’s support, has challenged the law in court and said in December that he would not enforce the regulation. He told the media he believes the policy is “unconstitutional” and that investigating and prosecuting women who have abortions would divert resources away from “important cases” including homicide, sexual assault and arson.

Both Kaul and Evers are up for reelection this November. Both have made abortion access a central talking point of their campaigns.

Evers, who vetoed five abortion-related bills in December prior to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, has said he “feels confident abortion will be a winning issue for his party because polls have consistently shown about 60% of Wisconsin residents support it being legal in most or all cases,” per CBS News. The outlet also reports that “no governor who was the same party as the sitting president has won election in Wisconsin since 1990.”

The Washington Examiner noted on Sept. 30 that “abortion alternated as one of the lowest-searched topics among Wisconsin voters.” Education, crime, and taxes are the top issues among voters as they are among voters on a national scale

Tim Michels, the Republican construction executive challenging Evers, has described himself as “pro-life” and had previously supported the 1894 Wisconsin law prohibiting abortion.

Michels has said more recently that, if elected governor, he would sign a bill granting rape, incest, and mother’s health exceptions to the ban if one were passed by the state legislature, as that would mean “the people have spoken,” per AP News

Evers narrowly leads Michels by 1% according to the most recent poll from Marquette University Law School which was published on Oct. 12. 

The two men will take part in one debate on Oct. 14. A panel of broadcast reporters from Wisconsin will ask the candidates questions as two moderators oversee the event.

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