The Freedom From Religion Foundation is praising Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul for announcing that he would not prosecute anyone should a Supreme Court ruling activate Wisconsin’s law criminalizing abortion.
FFRF’s home state of Wisconsin is one of nine states with an abortion ban that predates Roe v. Wade. This could go into immediate effect should the Supreme Court rule in favor of severe abortion restrictions next year. Wisconsin’s criminal pre-Civil War anti-abortion law, which would fine and imprison physicians who perform abortions, has been unenforceable since Roe became law in 1973. However, it still sits on the books.
With the ultraconservative Supreme Court upholding Texas’ draconian six-week abortion ban and signaling support of turning abortion legislation over to the states, Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance. The high court will rule in 2022 on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case out of Mississippi that may overturn the foundational principles of abortion rights. In the event that Roe is overturned, more than 20 states are subject to banning or severely restricting abortion because of “trigger laws” — or abortion bans in waiting.
Kaul stated in a recent interview that he would not investigate or prosecute anyone for having an abortion. “Even if courts were to interpret that law as being enforceable, as attorney general I would not use the resources of the Wisconsin Department of Justice either to investigate alleged violations of that abortion ban or to prosecute alleged violations of it,” he explained. Kaul added that enforcing the abortion ban would jeopardize public safety: “And it would result in serious negative health consequences, including potentially the death of women who wanted to seek to exercise what for nearly 50 years been understood to be a constitutionally protected right.”
FFRF lauds the pro-abortion rights stance of Wisconsin’s top law-enforcement official.
“We commend Attorney General Kaul for supporting science, reason and women’s rights,” comments Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “However, we citizens still must demand the repeal of this draconian 1849 anti-abortion law.”
FFRF urges its Wisconsin members to contact their Wisconsin legislators and tell them to pass the Abortion Rights Preservation Act, which would repeal the criminal abortion ban. Members nationwide are also urged to contact their U.S. senators and ask them to pass the federal Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify abortion rights.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national state/church watchdog based in Madison, Wis., has approximately 35,000 nonreligious members and several chapters all over the country, including over 1,500 members and a chapter in Wisconsin.