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Sebastian's Point

Sebastian's Point is a weekly column written by one of our members regarding timely events or analysis of relevant ideas, which impact the Culture of Life. All regular members are invited to submit a column for publication at soss.submissions@gmail.com. Columns should be between 800 to 1300 words and comply with the high standards expected in academic writing, including proper citations of authority or assertions referred to in your column. Please see, Submission Requirements for more details.

Wisconsin Bill AB 975: A Cautionary Tale in Pro-Life Prudence

Heather Weininger

Executive Director

Wisconsin Right to Life

 

Gracie Skogman

Legislative Director

Wisconsin Right to Life  |  18 March 2024

 

In a “post-Roe” United States, thousands of lives have been saved and laws have been passed to safeguard life, yet the pro-life movement faces mounting opposition from across party lines. For the first time in decades, we see an erosion of pro-life support from within the Republican party and a call for “moderate” legislation that claims to bridge the gap of contention in our society on the issue of abortion.

 

In Wisconsin, Assembly Bill 975,[i] a bill that would bring a referendum to the April 2024 ballot to prohibit abortion after 14 weeks’ post-fertilization age, exemplifies this push from within the Republican ranks.

 

Assembly Bill 975 is a bad strategy morally and politically, will not save any lives, and is an inherent misunderstanding of how the conversation around abortion must change to continue to save lives and change hearts and minds to favor life.

 

Many of the elected officials who brought this legislation forward believe this effort will put an end to the discussion of abortion and will stop Democrats from using the abortion issue as a tool against Republicans.

 

This could not be further from the truth. We have seen time and time again that any effort to restrict abortion will be used by Democrats[ii] to crucify Republicans in the State Legislature for wanting to “take away rights” from women. In fact, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and other abortion advocates have already used AB 975 as a strategy to show the “extremism” of Republicans.

 

Some Wisconsin Republicans claim this effort[iii] will “let the people decide,”[iv] but Governor Evers has promised to veto it.[v] This means this referendum will never be on the April 2024 ballot and will not reach the people.  

 

Most concerning, many have argued that a 14-week standard is “reasonable,” and puts Wisconsin in line with European countries long seen as moderates on the issue of abortion. Yet, as recently as this month France became the world’s first country to enshrine abortion rights in its constitution.[vi] This happened after decades of a 12-week and most recently 14-week limit on abortions.

 

The Catholic Church was one of the only groups who spoke in opposition, saying in a statement, “In the era of universal human rights, there can be no ‘right’ to take human life.” A powerful message, but one not often articulated, not in France or in the United States.

 

For too long, many Republicans have struggled to articulate their pro-life position in a clear and compassionate way.[vii] This has allowed their opponents to define this issue, feeding into the negative narrative the media already has of the pro-life position.

 

At this moment in our culture, we know that the public does not perfectly align with either party’s stance on abortion[viii] – as either totally legal or totally illegal. After more than 50 years of Roe vs. Wade, it’s no wonder. 

 

Yet polling does show glimpses of hope for the pro-life cause. A majority of both Democrats and Republicans support public funding for Pregnancy Resource Centers[ix], which offer life-affirming options to women. This is a winning message the pro-life movement and pro-life elected officials must convey. While abortion advocates offer nothing but a procedure ending in the death of an innocent preborn child, the pro-life movement provides millions in free support and services to women and their pre-born children every year.

 

The Legislative Session in Wisconsin has ended, but during the past session we urged state legislators who wish to advance the pro-life cause to pass effective legislation such as AB 114,[x] which extends postpartum care to a year after birth; AB 343,[xi] which increases the tax exemption for dependents and including preborn children; AB 344,[xii] which funds pregnancy resource centers; and AB 336,[xiii] which creates grants to support adoption. This type of legislation is the path forward for pro-life legislators.

 

We are not the radicals, but we are allowing the radical pro-death abortion industry to define our position, while they advocate for unfettered abortion access until the moment of birth and neglect to offer women supportive services if they do want to choose life.

 

There is no moderate position on protecting life; and striving for one without educating on the value of life places Wisconsin on the trajectory of France.

 

Wisconsin Right to Life will continue to focus on our most important work and remain unwavering in our work to change the culture and save lives.

 

We will walk with mothers facing an unexpected or difficult pregnancy and provide resources for both before and after birth. We will connect mothers to local pregnancy centers and offer hope that they can pursue their dreams while welcoming a child. We will ramp up our efforts to talk directly to Wisconsinites and share the truth about abortion with compassion. In the end, these will be the efforts that “settle” the abortion issue, because these efforts will empower every woman in Wisconsin to bring a child into this world without fear

 

Now, more than ever before, the pro-life movement and pro-life elected officials must stand firmly in defense of pre-born life, and compassionately articulate the support we offer to women and their children.

 

In the face of heartbreaking defeat in France, pro-life groups are responding with renewed calls for politics that support women facing unexpected pregnancies, such as facilitating adoption and funding resource centers. They refuse to sacrifice the moral clarity of protecting life even in the face of overwhelming opposition, “We must continue to raise awareness of the reality of abortion.”[xiv]

 

From Wisconsin, we stand with our fellow pro-life advocates in France and join them in their calls for protection of all human life and support for women to empower them to make a life-affirming decision. We stand against efforts like Assembly Bill 975, that will not save any lives, but will sacrifice the moral cause of the pro-life movement.

 

_________________

[i] See https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2023/related/proposals/ab975, retrieved on March 16, 2024.

[ii] Press release of Wisconsin Democrats, “WisDems: On New Republican Abortion Ban,” WisPolitics, January 19, 2024, https://www.wispolitics.com/2024/wisdems-on-new-republican-abortion-ban/, retrieved March 16, 2024.

[iii] Press release of Felzkowski, Mary & Mursau, Jeff, “Sen. Felzkowski, Rep. Mursau: Introduce referendum on abortion,” WisPolitics, January 19, 2024, https://www.wispolitics.com/2024/sen-felzkowski-rep-mursau-introduce-referendum-on-abortion/, retrieved on March 17, 2024.

[iv] Press release of Kitchens, Joel, “Let The People Decide”, WisPolitics, January 19, 2024, https://www.wispolitics.com/2024/rep-kitchens-let-the-people-decide-voters-could-set-abortion-law-in-april/, retrieved on March 17, 2024.

[v] AP, “Wisconsin GOP Introduces Bill To Ban Abortion After 14-Weeks,” WCCO News, January 22, 2024, https://www.cbsnews.com/minnesota/news/wisconsin-republicans-introduce-a-bill-to-ban-abortions-after-14-weeks-of-pregnancy/, retrieved on March 17, 2024.

[vi] Berlinger, Joshua & Xu, Xiaofei, “France Becomes First Country To Enshrine Abortion Rights in Constitution,” CNN, March 4, 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/03/04/europe/france-abortion-constitution-intl/index.html, retrieved March 17, 2024.

[vii] Higgins, Heather, “Why GOP Abortion Messaging Isn’t Working,” Real Clear Politics, November 15, 2023, https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2023/11/15/why_gop_abortion_messaging_isnt_working_150059.html, retrieved March 17, 2024.

[viii] Gallup, https://news.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx, retrieved March 17, 2024.

[ix] Downey, Caroline, “Poll: Vast Majority of Democrats Support Public Funding of Pregnancy Centers,” National Review, August 15, 2022, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/poll-vast-majority-of-democrats-support-public-funding-of-pregnancy-centers/, retrieved on March 17, 2024.

[x] See https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2023/proposals/ab114, retrieved on March 17, 2024.

[xi] See https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2023/proposals/ab343, retrieved on March 17, 2024.

[xii] See https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2023/proposals/ab344, retrieved on March 17, 2024.

[xiii] See https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2023/proposals/ab336, retrieved on March 17, 2024.

[xiv] Ryder, Bridget, “Pro-Life Groups Gear Up to Counter Historic French Vote on Abortion,” America, March 12, 2024, https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2024/03/12/france-abortion-constitution-pro-life-247497, retrieved on March 17, 2024.

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