Evers calls special session to amend constitution to allow public vote on abortion law
MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Tony Evers has called for a special session of the Wisconsin State Legislature to take up a constitutional amendment that would allow the public to vote on a referendum concerning the state’s controversial 1849 abortion law.
The pre-Civil War law criminalizes abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest. Evers called a special session earlier this year to try and repeal the law, but the legislature gaveled in and immediately gaveled out of the session without taking action.
WATCH: Wisconsin Republican lawmakers quickly gavel into, out of special session on abortion
The move comes after voters in Kansas passed a referendum protecting access to abortion in the state. A similar referendum is on the table in Michigan. Wisconsin’s constitution does not allow voters to introduce referendums to be voted on by the public. Evers called a special session in an effort to change that.
“Right now today, when it comes to reproductive freedom, the will of the people isn’t the law of the land,” Evers said. “But it damn well should be, folks, it really should be.”
Senator Ron Johnson, one of Wisconsin’s leading Republicans, suggested last week that voters should decide how the 1849 law is changed, an opinion that Evers shares.
“As of last week, this idea has new, bi-partisan support in Wisconsin,” the governor said. “I agree with U.S. Senator Ron Johnson. There’s a sentence for you.”
The new special session is set to be held on October 5.
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