Fail, Survive, or Thrive

November 14, 2022 @ 12:00am

Election day came and went last week. But what do the results really mean? Let’s first take a look at things on a more national level. Five states: California, Michigan, Kentucky, Montana, and Vermont, had abortion rights and access on the ballot. Constituents in all five states, overwhelmingly, supported the right to choose. California voters enshrined abortion rights in their state constitution. Kentucky voters rejected an anti-abortion amendment that would have removed the right to abortion from the state’s constitution. Michigan voters adopted an amendment to their state constitution ensuring the right to abortion access. Montana voters rejected a legislative referendum that would have raised criminal charges for health care providers in regard to abortion. And in Vermont, with a 77.2% vote, voters added abortion rights to the state constitution. But let’s not forget about Kansas in August either.

The people are speaking. And what they are saying is abortion care is healthcare. But furthermore, healthcare is an intimate discussion and decision between an individual and their healthcare provider. As we saw last week, and as we will see in weeks to come…it is time for the politicians to stop their attempts at legislating the female body. They need to shift their focus to more productive work and leave the draconian laws of the past.

What I find particularly interesting is the status of things in Wisconsin. A few months ago, Governor Evers attempted to call the legislature into special session. Through that special session, the Governor wanted to begin the process of putting abortion rights in a referendum, to let the people choose. The legislature gaveled in and gaveled out. Not taking up the topic of allowing Wisconsin citizens to choose through referendum. Of course, abortion would not be the only topic that could be put out to referendum, but one ponders if the conservative legislature is taking such a stance as they are afraid of the outcome. The outcome that we are seeing supported throughout the nation. The outcome that would give the individuals the right to choose. Why else would they not allow for the vote to go back to the people?

The Wisconsin election was definitely a nail biter. The Republican legislature was two seats away from a super majority with full control of the legislative body and Governor Evers was re-elected for a second term. What does that mean? Wisconsin is entering another lame-duck session. Nothing is going to move forward, but more importantly for women’s rights, we will not be turning the clock back either. The legislature is going to present legislation and the Governor will veto it. The Governor will request sessions, and the legislature will gavel in and gavel out. I know it does not seem productive or like a great use of time…but at this point I feel it is better than the alternative.

So as a summary of the election on abortion in Wisconsin: with Evers as governor and where the legislature fell, no new restrictions on abortion will be passed. This is an extremely important outcome of the election! Attorney Kaul was re-elected for another term as attorney general. His lawsuit should continue to work its way through the legal system. We are anticipating that it will end up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court at some point in time. One can hope that the justices will agree with Attorney Kaul indicating that the 1849 law is not enforceable. If that does happen, we should see abortion go back to pre-Dobbs circumstances in Wisconsin, including abortion being legal again. Obviously, there are many more details to the proceedings that would lead to that. But I can be hopeful.

As always, Healthfirst continues to stand by our mission and core values with the stance that all individuals should be afforded the right to choose. The right to choose includes choosing our elected officials as well. We are overwhelmed by the results of the Wisconsin election last week and feel confident that individuals will not see further attacks on their bodily autonomy in the coming years. Thank you for voting Wisconsin and allowing the uterus stand to see another day.


About the author: Jessica Scharfenberg
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