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Guest column by Sarah Godlewski: Reproductive rights are under attack in Wisconsin
"These brave women are sharing their stories because they want Wisconsinites to know how the 1849 abortion ban has almost cost them their lives."
The Recombobulation Area is a
six-time TEN-TIME Milwaukee Press Club award-winningweekly opinion column and online publication written and published by veteran Milwaukee journalist Dan Shafer. Learn more about it here.
Guest column by Sarah Godlewski, Wisconsin’s Secretary of State, the former State Treasurer, former candidate for U.S. Senate and the founder and former executive director of Women Win Wisconsin.
Our reproductive freedoms are under attack.
Also under attack? The lives of millions of women across Wisconsin. This isn’t hyperbole. People’s lives are at stake because of an abortion ban that was written before women had the right to vote and before doctors were told to wash their hands.
As I have traveled around the state as a speaker for Women Win Wisconsin’s Rally for Our Rights, I have heard so many stories about how Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban has altered lives.
Melissa Janssen of Eau Claire experienced the immediate impacts of this law. Last summer, Melissa was pregnant. Just three days after Roe v. Wade was overturned, she learned the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby in her uterus was completely gone and she found herself becoming septic. Melissa laid in the hospital room scrolling her insurance app to decide her next steps — to stay in a Wisconsin hospital where she might not get the abortion she needs or drive to Minnesota in this condition.
Dr. Igler, an OB-GYN in Green Bay, found out at 25 weeks her baby’s brain had been severely and irreversibly damaged. This condition would not only lead to severe cognitive impairment, deafness, and seizures, but Dr. Igler was at severe risk of being septic. She had no viable options in Wisconsin and had to leave the state — traveling thousands of miles to have an abortion.
These brave women are sharing their stories because they want Wisconsinites to know how the 1849 abortion ban has almost cost them their lives. Their stories and their pain are real. These women are not alone as one in four women will have an abortion by the age of 45.
Despite our current state, what gives us hope is the opportunity to end this archaic law by electing a Supreme Court justice that shares our values. There is a lawsuit going through the Wisconsin court system right now, questioning the legality and legitimacy of the 1849 criminal abortion ban. This ruling can make the difference.
Janet Protasiewicz is the judicial candidate that shares our values, unlike Dan Kelly. But, we know Wisconsin elections are decided by just a few thousand votes. In 2019, we lost the state Supreme Court election by only 5,960 votes. That is fewer than one vote per precinct. In the next few days, please know that every conversation matters — and it just might make the difference come April 4.
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Sarah Godlewski is a proud fifth-generation Wisconsinite. She is a mom, Wisconsin’s Secretary of State, the former State Treasurer, and the founder and former executive director of Women Win Wisconsin. Whether it was leading the bipartisan fight to save the State Treasurer’s office or advocating for reproductive healthcare, affordable childcare, and paid family leave in her campaign for the U.S. Senate, Sarah has dedicated her career to bringing light to the issues that are viewed as an afterthought. As Secretary of State, she’s ready to do the same.
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