One year ago today, our country was dragged back nearly half a century, and Wisconsin was dragged back even further — by 173 years. We made the wrong kind of history when Americans had a constitutional right taken away. More specifically, Republicans ripped it away. And this week on the Senate floor, our Republican colleagues doubled down on their out-of-touch agenda.
The Dobbs decision — which struck down Roe v. Wade, ended the constitutional right to abortion and stripped away a woman’s freedom to control her body — was no fluke. It was the culmination of Republicans’ meticulous, decades-long attacks on the right to abortion: pushing medically unnecessary, restrictive laws everywhere they could, peddling blatant disinformation and stacking our courts with far-right judges.
No corner of our country has been spared the devastating fallout.
No corner of our country has been spared the devastating fallout. The numbers are harrowing: 25 million women of childbearing age live in states that have passed laws restricting their right to abortion since the Dobbs ruling. Fourteen of those states have passed total abortion bans. Most, including Wisconsin’s archaic 1849 law that went into effect after Dobbs, don’t even allow exceptions for rape, incest or saving the life of the mother. Another six states have severely limited abortion access, and five more have had their abortion bans blocked in court.
The stories are heartbreaking. Doctors have to tell patients they can’t act to save their lives, not because there are no treatments but because they are afraid of going to jail or because they have to talk with their lawyers first. In Wisconsin alone, one woman was left bleeding for 10 days after an incomplete miscarriage because providers feared they could be criminally prosecuted for providing life-saving care. Other Wisconsin women have told one of us firsthand of ordeal after ordeal. A couple was forced to travel out of state for an abortion when they learned 13 weeks into a pregnancy that their baby’s skull had not fully developed and their baby had no chance of survival. Another patient went to the doctor after her water broke at 17 weeks and was sent home without the abortion care she needed, only to come back two days later with a life-threatening infection.
There are so many tragedies like these playing out across the country. Even in states where abortion is legal, such as Washington state, the consequences can be felt. Providers have been overwhelmed with patients who have had to wait weeks and travel hundreds of miles to get an abortion.
And though the reality is already horrific, Republicans are preparing to go even further.
Idaho Republicans have passed laws to charge grandmothers or aunts with human trafficking if they drive a minor out of state for an abortion. Alabama’s Republican attorney general says he can prosecute women for using abortion medications. And Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has signaled his willingness to rip away the right to obtain birth control.
Though the reality is already horrific, Republicans are preparing to go even further.
Then there’s the Republican-backed lawsuit to end the use of mifepristone, a safe and effective medication for ending pregnancy within the first 10 weeks that the Food and Drug Administration approved two decades ago. Mifepristone is the most common method of abortion, and Republicans are trying to block it in every single state.
Poll after poll finds the majority of the American people support the right to abortion. And electoral results last November showed it too. Every single place where abortion rights were on the ballot, abortion rights won.
But Republicans refuse to listen to the American people. Look no further than what happened on the Senate floor this week, when we and our Democratic colleagues tried to pass the most straightforward protections for reproductive rights imaginable.
Senate Democrats put forward four common sense bills that should not be controversial or partisan: the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act to ensure women can travel to another state for an abortion; the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act to ensure doctors can provide an abortion in states where it is legal without fear they will be thrown in prison; the Right to Contraception Act to simply protect the right to birth control; and the Uphold Privacy Act to keep your online health and location data private so it can’t be used against you.
Republicans blocked every single bill.
Just as Republicans last year blocked the Women’s Health Protection Act, our bill that would restore Roe and guarantee access to abortion in all 50 states without letting politicians put unneeded roadblocks up.
Some Republicans, who aren’t quite so brazen, may hope this issue will fade away. Well, one year later this issue has not faded away, not by a long shot. Americans are not just rolling over as our rights have been stripped away. People are heartbroken and terrified, but they are also more determined than ever and speaking out.
We will not settle for a country where women are second class citizens and forced to stay pregnant against their will. We will speak out, organize, march and do whatever it takes to restore the right to abortion, and make sure every woman can make her own decisions about her body, her family and her future.
Women will not be silent. We will not be ignored. Women will keep speaking up, telling their stories, making their voices heard, especially at the ballot box.
As Americans consider how they will vote in future elections, they should understand there is a clear choice before them. Democrats are fighting to restore Roe and your freedoms, but as the country saw this week, Republicans remain hell-bent on inserting themselves into families’ personal decisions and imposing a radical, anti-abortion agenda that forces women to stay pregnant no matter what.