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Wisconsin Senate President Closes Special Session on State's Abortion Ban After 14 Seconds

‘This is nothing more than a calculated campaign move,’ said state Senator Chris Kapenga

Wisconsin’s abortion ban is on track to stay in place despite Governor Tony Evers’ efforts to repeal the policy.

Abortion was banned in Wisconsin in 1849 unless it is necessary to save a mother’s life. It became dormant after the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

Evers called a special session of the state’s legislature to have the ban repealed as the nation waits for the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. A draft of the opinion that was leaked in May revealed the court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade and return the right to regulate abortions to the individual states.

The President of the Wisconsin Senate Chris Kapenga gavelled in the session just after 12 P.M. on June 22. Roughly 14 seconds later, Kapenga closed the session with another gavel wrap. Senator Tim Carpenter shouted “Objection!” as Kapenga walked off the floor.

Kapenga released a statement less than 30 minutes later denouncing the special session and the governor’s attempt to strike the ban prior to the Supreme Court’s opinion.

This is nothing more than a calculated campaign move and the exact reason why the Legislature isn’t in session during campaign season,” Kapenga said. “He’s not fooling anyone with this disingenuous political stunt.”

“If only the Governor could have mustered up some leadership to address the increased crime plaguing our cities. He needs to do better for the people of Wisconsin who are concerned about the safety of their loved ones,” the senator added.

Evers, who defeated former Governor Scott Walker in 2018, announced last June that he would seek reelection. The Democrat has made securing access to abortion a central part of his campaign platform. As governor, Evers has repeatedly clashed with Republicans over the issue.

In December of 2021, he vetoed five bills restricting abortion in Wisconsin that were written by Republicans. One bill would have made it a felony to intentionally cause the death of a child born alive as the result of an abortion. 

A second bill Evers vetoed would require doctors to provide the parents of fetuses and embryos that test positive for a congenital condition information about the condition. A third proposal he vetoed would prohibit abortions based on a fetus’ sex, race or national origin,” per CBS News.

Republicans did not have enough votes in the legislature to override the veto.

Earlier this month, Republican Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu called the repeal effort “another blatantly political special session call from this partisan governor” and warned the Senate would not take action.

“Republicans legislators support banning abortion and are not obligated to take any action during the special session,” reports ABC News. “They ignored other special [sessions] that Evers called asking them to take action on issues such as gun control, increasing school funding and sending rebate checks to taxpayers.”

Democrats in Wisconsin have castigated Republican lawmakers for preventing an end to the abortion ban.

I am very concerned that some lawmakers are trying to erode the rights of women who deserve to choose their own future for themselves and their families,” said Representative Sue Conley in a statement. “I am once again disappointed that Republicans are so disengaged from their constituencies that they will not even show up when Governor Evers calls a special session. The majority of people do not support total abortion bans, which Wisconsin may very well revert to in the near future.”

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