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Working with Veto Power: The Wisconsin Strategy
Heather Weininger | 13 June 2019
Wisconsin was blessed with a pro-life governor, Scott Walker, for two terms. While we were not always able to accomplish everything we wanted to during his time in office, we could always rely on having a voice for the voiceless in the Governor’s office.
The tables have now turned in Wisconsin. Not only is Governor Tony Evers a staunch supporter of abortion, he has former Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin staff members in his inner circle. However, this doesn’t mean that our efforts to pass pro-life legislation have ended. On the contrary, now is the opportune time to speak with the public and educate them on the truth and reality of abortion.
First, it is important to note that Wisconsin is one of a handful of states where, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, we already have a state statute that would make abortion illegal. This statute dates back to 1849 – when Wisconsin first became a state. Second, we do take an incremental approach in Wisconsin to stopping abortion and, in doing so, we have been able to save over 174,000 lives since abortion numbers were first required to be reported in 1987. Third, we look at this legislative session as a perfect opportunity to dispel the many falsehoods of the pro-abortion industry and reverse the public conscience about abortion.
In the last several months I have been asked, several times, by pro-lifers why we are working on legislation and putting in so much effort to pass laws when we know the governor will veto them. That is a very valid question, and one that we must all be able to answer. The pro-life message is very compelling. As we have seen in one case, in Louisiana, a Democrat Governor has signed pro-life legislation. This leads one to wonder if there are Democrats in Wisconsin who will work with the pro-life movement again.
Our efforts in Wisconsin are very similar to other states; our state senate and assembly have passed four pro-life bills in recent weeks, despite knowing Governor Evers will veto them. Consider the significance of these bills:
AB 179/SB 175, The Born Alive Survivors Protection Act, will ensure babies born alive after failed abortion attempts are given the same standard of care as children born alive naturally;
AB 182/SB 173, The Anti-Discrimination Abortion Ban, will protect unborn children from abortions that are based on their sex, race, or disability diagnosis. This bill was modeled after the Indiana law in hopes that, once that case is heard, it will be enforceable; [i]
AB 180/SB 174, The Woman’s Right to Know Act, will require women who are seeking chemical abortions be given information on chemical abortion medications. It will also update abortion reporting requirements;
AB 183/SB 187, The Abortion Provider Reimbursement Prohibition Act, will prohibit private abortion providers and their affiliates from receiving Medicaid certification.
Now read Governor Evers’ reasoning for vetoing these bills: “[W]e shouldn’t be limiting the right for women to make their own healthcare decisions. That’s why I’ll veto the bills passed by the Assembly last week if they arrive on my desk. It’s time to listen to women.”[ii]
What can we take away from this? First, it is imperative to share the truth: no matter what Planned Parenthood says, abortion is not health care! The public needs to understand that the taking of life does not fall into health care, and that family planning does not include the killing of unborn children. Second, we have seen the dramatic shift in public attitude in America after the veil of the abortion industry was pulled back and it was made clear that the intent of laws in New York and other states is to support infanticide. Now is our opportunity in Wisconsin to influence and change the minds of a pro-choice population who have been fooled with misleading and false information. Third, if we decided to rest on our laurels during times we don’t have friendly pro-lifers in all branches of our state government our efforts would go backwards instead of forwards.
There has never been a more important time for us to keep promoting the message of life and hope, and working to change hearts and minds to favor life. In order for us to keep having lasting impacts on changing hearts and minds to favor life, we must reach those who are open to hearing where we are on life. We must also send the right message to those who are being fed misinformation from the abortion industry and let them know there is room for them with us.
[i] Editor’s Note: The US Supreme Court, “said it would not revive . . . part of the [Indiana] law, which would have prohibited abortions if the woman chose the procedure because of a diagnosis or ‘potential diagnosis’ of Down syndrome or ‘any other disability,’ or because of the fetus’s gender or race.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-compromise-on-indiana-abortion-law-keeps-issue-off-its-docket/2019/05/28/18636792-814b-11e9-933d-7501070ee669_story.html?utm_term=.c3431c77ee1f.
Heather Weininger, is Executive Director of Wisconsin Right to Life