Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Abortion Referendum Will Be On Spring Ballots

Advisory referendum on Wisconsin's abortion ban will be on Milwaukee County ballots during April election.

By - Dec 15th, 2022 05:55 pm
Pro-choice rally in Red Arrow Park. Photo taken July 4, 2022 by Dave Reid.

Pro-choice rally in Red Arrow Park. Photo taken July 4, 2022 by Dave Reid.

The Milwaukee County Board approved an advisory referendum Thursday that will ask voters their opinion on Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban.

The referendum will be on ballots for the spring 2023 election. It will ask voters if the 19th-century law, “which bans abortion at any stage of pregnancy without exception for rape, incest, or health of the patient, be repealed to allow legal access to abortion care?” The outcome of the advisory referendum will have no legal effect. It’s intended to gauge public opinion for the purposes of policymakers.

The board considered an identical referendum question in July, along with two others asking voters’ opinion on marijuana legalization and banning military-style firearms. It failed to secure the two-thirds vote necessary for an abortion referendum but passed the other two measures. The board passed the referendum this time with 14 supervisors voting in favor, three supervisors voting against (Deanna Alexander, Steve Taylor and Patti Logsdon) and one supervisor abstaining (Kathleen Vincent).

The referendum received more than the two-thirds support needed to pass.

The resolution creating the referendum was authored by Sup. Ryan Clancy and co-sponsored by supervisors Sequanna TaylorPriscilla E. Coggs-JonesJuan Miguel MartinezPeter BurgelisFelesia MartinWillie Johnson, Jr. and Sheldon Wasserman.

Clancy thanked his colleagues for supporting the resolution and the county residents that advocated for the referendum, saying the proposal was proof that mass action and activism work.

Alexander took the floor to speak against the referendum, saying the issue of abortion is not “black and white.” She said the issue s very nuanced and went on to say that a simple repeal of the state’s 1849 abortion ban could lead to abortions nine months into a pregnancy. Other conservative supervisors like Logsdon and Steve Taylor said the issue didn’t belong on the ballot because the board did not have the power to repeal the state’s abortion ban.

Wasserman, an OBGYN by training, said speculations about nine-month abortions are ridiculous, adding that such a procedure would never be performed in the U.S.

“This is an issue that should not even be in our political arena,” said Martin, adding that bans like the one in Wisconsin are infringements on the bodily autonomy of women and are “amoral.” Martin shared that she has been a victim of incest and that under the state’s current law she would have been forced to carry a pregnancy to term had there been one.

Sequanna Taylor said that the fact women even have to debate an issue of bodily autonomy is an injustice.

One thought on “MKE County: Abortion Referendum Will Be On Spring Ballots”

  1. Keith Prochnow says:

    As if the Republicans in Madison would so much as acknowledge what Milwaukee voters have to say on the suject.

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