Roe v. Wade overturned; Wisconsin officials react to decision

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, June 24 ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years in a decision by its conservative majority to overturn Roe v. Wade

What happens next is now up to the state. That means an 1849 law is what stands, but exactly how it will be enforced is uncertain.

The landmark decision has drawn both ire and praise. FOX6 News spoke to Democratic and Republican state lawmakers about what's next.

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"This is a tremendous victory for the pro-life movement here in Wisconsin," said State Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton).

"It’s a kick in the gut for sure," said State Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee).

Wisconsin Capitol, Madison

"Things are very uncertain," said State Rep. Deb Andraca (D-Whitefish Bay)

Wednesday, Gov. Tony Evers called a special session to repeal the state's current 173-year-old law, which had been dormant for decades. Republicans, who control both chambers of the Wisconsin Legislature, gaveled in and out of that session within seconds.

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"Having us be a pro-life state again is very exciting and certainly to the whole pro-life movement here in Wisconsin," Roth said.

The state senator from Appleton said he'd like to see more funding for crisis pregnancy centers in Wisconsin and streamlined adoptions.

Protests outside the U.S. Supreme Court following decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

"Make sure we are doing everything in our power to help these 6,000, roughly, mothers here as they go through their crisis pregnancies," said Roth.

A Marquette University Law School poll released days before the Supreme Court's decision showed about 58% of respondents said abortion should be legal.

"Poll after poll has shown that Wisconsinites want abortion to be legal and safe in a majority of circumstances," Andraca said.

Pro-life demonstration following SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Democrats said they will fight for that to happen.

"Things can’t carry on the way that they are. We can’t have an 1849 law on the book for god sakes," said Larson.

There may not be more answers about the 1849 law until the Wisconsin Legislature is back in session come January 2023. Democrats who spoke with FOX6 said they want to take up the matter immediately. Republicans said they will wait until after the election.

Official statements

Gov. Tony Evers:

"This is an unfathomably grim day for our state and our country. I am heartbroken—for the millions of Wisconsinites and Americans the U.S. Supreme Court has abandoned and for our country and our democratic institutions. This is an absolutely disastrous and unconscionable decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the consequences of which I hoped to never see again in my lifetime. I know many across our state and nation are scared—worried about their own health and about the health and safety of their family members, friends, and neighbors, who could very soon see the ability to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions stripped from them. My heart breaks for them, I grieve for them, and I pray for their strength and courage in the days ahead.

"Our work to do the right thing for the people of this state must continue. We will fight this decision in every way we can with every power we have. As people in Wisconsin and across our country make their voices heard in the days and months ahead, we will do so peacefully and without violence. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again today: I will never stop fighting to make sure that every single Wisconsinite has the right to consult their family, their faith, and their doctor to make the reproductive healthcare decision that is right for them, and without interference from politicians or members of the Supreme Court who don’t know anything about their life circumstances, values, or responsibilities."

Former President Barack Obama:

"Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues—attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans.

"Across the country, states have already passed bills restricting choice. If you're looking for ways to respond, Planned Parenthood The United State of Women and many other groups have been sounding the alarm on this issue for years—and will continue to be on the front lines of this fight."

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin):

"An activist majority of the Supreme Court has overturned Roe and nearly 50 years of precedent, taking away the constitutional rights of American women to make their own personal choices about their body, their health, and their family. Republicans have taken Wisconsin women back to 1849 and it is Republicans who want to keep us there with support for having politicians interfere in the freedoms of women who will now have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers have had for decades. I ask people to join this fight with their voices and their votes because we will not be taken back, we will move forward."

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin):

"Today is a victory for life and for those who have fought for decades to protect the unborn. For almost fifty years the decision of nine unelected Justices have prevented a democratically derived consensus on the profound moral issue of abortion to be formed.  This decision will now allow that democratic process to unfold in each state to determine at what point does society have the responsibility to protect life.  Hopefully, the debate will be conducted with sincerity, compassion, and respect for the broad range of views that people hold."

U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin):

"The power to make abortion law should have always rested with elected officials, not the Supreme Court. Today’s decision correctly returns this authority to legislatures and gives the American people a direct say in the way abortion is governed in their state. This is a historic ruling that will undoubtedly protect millions of unborn lives.

"While reasonable Americans may disagree on this issue, we should all understand that violence and criminal conduct are an unacceptable response to this decision. In the past six weeks, churches have been put on high alert, pro-life centers – including one right here in Wisconsin – have been vandalized, and a man attempted to assassinate a Supreme Court Justice. We now have groups calling for riots and 'a night of rage.' Regardless of where one falls on this debate, its incumbent upon us all to ensure the events of the past six weeks are not repeated in the days ahead."

U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wisconsin):

"The Supreme Court made the correct and much-needed decision to overturn Roe v. Wade," said Grothman. "Legality of abortions is now turned back to the states. It is important for America to remember, when ultrasounds were practically unheardof, 47 states had made abortion illegal. Now, with accurate ultrasounds, it is clear to all Americans that unborn children are human beings. We will see where the public and churches stand.

"Over the years, millions of children have had their dreams stolen before seeing the light of the day. But today marks a brighter future for the hearts and minds of unborn children, women, and families.

"I commend the six Justices who voted to overturn Roe for having the courage to base their decision on sound legal principles rather than a fashionable line of thinking that rules academia, Hollywood, and the mainstream media."

U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wisconsin):

"I’m proudly pro-life. Today’s decision will bring this important issue back to the states. This is a great victory for life." 

U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wisconsin):

"Today’s landmark ruling is a historic victory for human rights…This decision paves the way for us to protect all life." 

State lawmakers and local leaders

State Sen. Janet Bewley (D-Mason:

"Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision is heartbreaking, but unfortunately expected. The conservatives on the Supreme Court have overturned 50 years of precedent. For years they complained about judicial activism, well now we know it was nothing but a smokescreen to get to their desired results, results that are opposed by the overwhelming majority of this nation’s citizens.   A sad day, and a harbinger of what might be in store in the future. What is next?  The right to marry?  The right to contraceptives?" 

State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point):

"Today, extremists on the United States Supreme Court stripped away a fundamental constitutional protection from millions of Americans. They chose to take this country backward and ignore legal precedent and the will of the people.

"Elections. Matter.

"Wisconsinites will now have to make health care decisions not based on what they and their doctors decide is best, but based on a law passed in 1849."

State Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield):

"The fundamental role of government in this country, and in this state, is to protect the rights of the individual. These rights are never subservient to government, the masses, or another individual, as seen in other lesser forms of government. Our individual liberties are the foundation to our Republic.

"In light of the United States Supreme Court decision, the fundamental question every person needs to ask is this: At what point does an individual life begin and take on this protection of rights?

"Wisconsin statute specifies that an "unborn child" is a human being from the time of conception until it is born alive. And, if there is a medical issue where the life of the mother is in jeopardy, the life of the mother can be saved. These statutes are now in effect.

"If we breach the established doctrine of individual rights at the point of when life begins, even if the circumstances around that life are less than ideal, or even outright terrible, we infringe upon the rights of that individual and it becomes a dangerous world where government decides who is worthy of living.

"Unless there is evidence indicating that those who came before us made an error, I will support Wisconsin’s current law that protects the right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness for every unborn child."

State Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton):

"Since the time of our state’s founding, Wisconsin has been a pro-life state. This decision to reverse Roe and Casey and return the issue of abortion to the states is exactly how our founding fathers envisioned these questions to be handled. Today we celebrate the thousands of babies that will be saved because the state’s existing statute is once again the law of the land. The Pro-Life movement must redouble our efforts, to help pregnant mothers in crisis with the services they need. We must streamline the state’s adoption laws to make adopting a child a smoother, less stressful, and faster process. We must ensure that crisis pregnancy centers have the tools and resources they need to counsel pregnant mothers in need. This is most certainly a victory for the most vulnerable, but our work to protect life must not end here." 

State Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg):

"As Justice Alito said in his majority opinion, ‘The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion.’ This is as true now as it was in 1973 when a right to abortion was invented."

"For almost 50 years, the Supreme Court has taken an issue of profound importance with huge moral implications away from the democratic process. Americans who wished to protect unborn life were prohibited from using the democratic process to address what they considered to be one of the most important roles of all fifty states: to protect life. No longer, and it’s about time."

"I respect those with whom I disagree on abortion, but many of my constituents and I believe profoundly that we should not permit the destruction of over 6000 human lives in utero every year in Wisconsin. Now, my colleagues and I can legislate to protect life like we do on other matters of tremendous state importance. I ran for office as a pro-life legislator and I will back that up with my votes and actions going forward."

State Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee:

"If there was any doubt that partisan politics have consumed the nation’s highest court, we got our answer today. I share Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s belief that the conservatives on the Supreme Court are going to move the country sharply to the right. Everything is on the table and everything is on the chopping block, precedent be damned." In an immediate nod to the calls for Congress to act to protect a woman’s reproductive freedoms, Taylor is frustrated by the uncertainty this ruling has created for women across the country. In Wisconsin, the state's 173-year-old abortion ban is once again the law of the land. Abortions are illegal in the Badger State, unless deemed medically necessary to save the patient's life. Providing an abortion, in Wisconsin, is now a felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. 

"We have states that are ready to roll. Whether existing or trigger laws, your right to an abortion is now contingent upon where you live. There will be near complete abortion bans, partial bans and possible felony charges for those who attempt to obtain this medical procedure that yesterday was legal in this country. While we sift through the full ramifications of this decision and our response, we know that questions about contraception, medication abortion or other family planning options are now in play."

Taylor says she will continue to work at both the state and federal level to assist women and girls impacted by the SCOTUS reversal of federal abortion rights. As announcements begin to surface about the criminalization of abortion in some states, Taylor added "women are not second class citizens and we all know these sweeping types of healthcare decisions would never happen to a man.

"Guns yesterday, abortion today. We have a litany of remaining freedoms, rights, and decisions that are in jeopardy under the control of an activist conservative Supreme Court. A court make-up by the way, that was pulled together through Mitch McConnell’s unethical behavior and stolen appointments." 

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne

Every day the Dane County District Attorney’s Office works tirelessly fighting for women whose bodies and privacy have been violated. As your District Attorney, I have no intention of ever stopping that important work. There are plenty of archaic laws on the books that represent the values of days past. I have every intention of utilizing the power Dane County voters entrusted in me and will use my discretion to prosecute only those crimes that keep our community safe and represent our collective values. If the voters want a district attorney who prosecutes women for seeking an abortion or licensed providers who are acting in the best interest of their patients, they will need to elect someone else.

Wisconsin DHS Secretary-Designee Karen Timberlake:

"DHS will work with our partners across the state to help Wisconsinites understand the implications of this decision. If you have questions about accessing abortion services, please call 414-289-3002 or contact your health care provider. 

"For the latest information about Wisconsin’s reproductive health services and family planning, please visit DHS website. This website will continue to be updated as more information becomes available." 

Fond Du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney:

"The job of the attorney general is to apply the law, but Josh Kaul wants to pick and choose which laws to follow and which to ignore.  Kaul’s a liberal politician beholden to the woke mob that wants to defund the police and abuse the Department of Justice to push their Leftist agendas.

"By refusing to enforce the law, Josh Kaul has failed the fundamental requirement of serving as attorney general. This is and always should have been a state issue. I am pro-life, proudly endorsed by Wisconsin Right to Life, and I will enforce and defend the laws as passed by the legislature and signed into law."

Milwaukee Common Council members Chantia Lewis, Ashanti Hamilton, Bob Bauman, Milele Coggs, Khalif Rainey, JoCasta Zamarripa, Jose Perez and Marina Dimitrijevic:

"Today’s news that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe V. Wade and taken away reproductive freedom for women across the country is heartbreaking and infuriating. This decision now means that women everywhere have less freedom today than they did yesterday. 

"While we have known for weeks that this was a possibility, it does not make the reality of the decision any less difficult to comprehend.   

"Women should have the fundamental right to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions, and the fact of the matter is this decision will negatively impact women everywhere, particularly those in communities of color and low-income communities.  

"We should take time to be angry, sad, confused, and hurt by today’s news, but we must also understand that while today is a devastating blow for the civil rights and human rights of women everywhere, we must keep pushing forward and fighting for what is right and become more active and engaged than we ever have before. Our daughters, granddaughters and future generations of women deserve nothing less." 

Candidates for office

Alex Lasry, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate:

"Today’s news of the Supreme Court overturning Roe V. Wade is a direct assault on women’s rights. Sadly, today will be remembered as one of the darkest days in the history of the Court, as women will die as a result of this destructive decision by these Trumpian Justices.

"I'm furious and incredibly disappointed, not only for my wife and daughter, but for all women in Wisconsin and across the country. Every woman deserves the right to control their own reproductive freedom—an essential element of a woman’s right to self-determination.

"The Republican Party has embraced extremism, and they have gone too far. We must eliminate the filibuster and undo this attack on the fundamental and essential freedoms of women. This restriction on abortion care will harm women across the country, especially low-income and women of color. This is setting an incredibly deadly precedent across our nation. 

"I’ll fight with everything I have to make sure access to safe and legal abortion is available in Wisconsin and nationwide. Alongside the incredible reproductive health care workers and reproductive justice fighters who work in Wisconsin, we will start that process by unseating Ron Johnson this November."

Tom Nelson, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and Outagamie County executive:

"June 24, 2022, is a day of infamy for women, for the Supreme Court and for the U.S. Constitution. Never in our lifetimes did we think that we would live in a nation where freedoms would decrease instead of increase. The Supreme Court’s extremist majority showed its true colors – trading away basic rights and freedoms for a backwards, dystopian vision that the majority of Americans DON’T want.

"I know that so many folks in our community are grieving, outraged and shaken. I want you to know that I will NEVER stop fighting to protect the right to choose for women across our state and our country. 

"In the post-Roe America that is now our reality, the Senate is the frontline for abortion rights. We are just one Senate vote away from codifying a woman’s right to choose into national law – and ensuring every American can make their own decisions about their body and their future.

"With Wisconsin’s 1849 criminal abortion ban still on the books, we need bold, immediate action in the U.S. Senate to protect women’s lives. Democrats must end the filibuster, codify a national right to a safe and legal abortion and expand the Supreme Court. I’m the only candidate in this Senate race to advocate for this position." 

Tim Michels, Republican candidate for Wisconsin governor:

"It is important that we continue to compassionately work on winning hearts and minds. We need to build a world that is safer for all, a world where better education is provided, and an economy that allows for all to prosper. Life must always be protected. We should not demonize those who don’t believe that, but rather redouble our efforts to show how they can provide a high quality of life for their children." 

Organizations and leaders

Democratic National Committee:

"Democrats, and the majority of Americans, believe women in this country have the right to make their own health care decisions. We will always be the party fighting for reproductive rights from statehouses to the halls of Congress.

"Today’s Supreme Court decision is the culmination of a coordinated Republican effort to roll back reproductive rights. An ultra-conservative Supreme Court majority — in the face of 50-year-old precedent — has empowered MAGA Republicans across the country to further attack our fundamental freedoms.

"The 2022 election will now determine whether new, cruel, and punishing restrictions will be imposed on women and families. With Republicans in power, states could make abortion illegal without exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Women and doctors could be charged criminally. Other previously settled rights, like the right to contraception and marriage equality, could be threatened.

"The American people don’t want any of this. In 2022, they will stand with Democrats in holding Republicans accountable for their attacks on our rights and freedoms."

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler, First Vice Chair Felesia Martin and Second Vice Chair Lee Snodgrass:

"Today, the Supreme Court, aided and abetted by anti-abortion extremists in Congress, has failed our country and state by taking away Americans’ right to make their own medical decisions. Overturning Roe v. Wade directly contradicts the will of the public, advice of countless medical professionals, and decades of settled precedent and jurisprudence. As a result of this decision, Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban is now enforceable, and doctors in our state can be put in jail for doing their jobs.

"Today’s decision underscores the importance of electing leaders at every level of government who will protect every person’s basic human right to make their own medical decisions. Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul have been brick walls against Republicans’ war on reproductive health at the state level. Senator Tammy Baldwin and Representatives Gwen Moore, Ron Kind, and Mark Pocan have been fierce defenders and advocates for legislation that would codify abortion protections into federal law.

"Now more than ever, abortion is on the ballot this November. All four Republicans running for governor have advocated for abortion bans that go beyond even the 1849 law and have vowed to pursue even more extreme restrictions on reproductive health care. Ron Johnson, who previously called the repeal of Roe v. Wade ‘the correct decision,’ has carelessly told Wisconsinites that if they don’t like the abortion laws in their state they simply ‘can move.’

"The stakes of the 2022 elections couldn’t be higher: we’re fighting for the ability of each person to make their own decisions about their body, life, and future."

Kellyanne Conway, chair of the Center for the American Child at the America First Policy Institute and former senior counselor to President Donald Trump: 

"For two years, we have been told to follow the science when it comes to a paper mask on a seven-year-old child, yet not when it comes to a sonogram of a 15-week-old fetus showing a clear image of human life, the baby’s gender, heartbeat, and limbs. Today’s ruling at the Supreme Court is a win for the American Child. The Center for the American Child will support efforts within states to ensure women and children are protected not just at birth but throughout the life of the baby." 

Meghan Roh, Opportunity Wisconsin program director:

"While expected, today’s decision is devastating nonetheless. Today the U.S. Supreme Court, cheered on by Senator Ron Johnson, overturned Roe v. Wade and sent Wisconsin women back to 1849 where we will likely face a criminal abortion ban. Over sixty percent of Wisconsin residents say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, and yet, Senator Johnson abdicated his duty to represent all of Wisconsin when he voted to block the Women’s Health Protection Act.  

"Today’s decision also has significant economic implications–something Senator Johnson purports to care about. Limits on our ability to make decisions about our own reproductive health isn’t just going to be ‘a little messy for some people,’ as Senator Johnson claimed, it’s going to have a direct impact on our economic security. Too many across the Badger State are worried about paying their bills and putting food on the table, and instead of working to bring down costs, Senator Johnson is choosing to support policies that we know would have very damaging effects on Wisconsin families and the economy. It’s time for Senator Johnson to stop serving himself and start supporting policies that help Wisconsin workers and families."

NextGen America:

"Today’s Supreme Court decision throws away years of established precedent and ignores the overwhelming majority of Americans who support reproductive justice. Deciding what happens to one’s own body should be the right of every American, and by eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion, the Supreme Court has launched a vicious attack on the lives of all."

"This decision has been in the works for decades by the far right, which has now overtaken the Supreme Court. Today’s decision makes clear that no civil liberties are safe from being rolled back by this Supreme Court. It will not stop here. The millions of young people that NextGen mobilizes are ready to fight back and stop the erosion on other basic rights from access to contraceptives, gay marriage, and even our basic right to vote. 

"This upcoming election, NextGen is reaching 9.6 million young voters across the country to make their voices heard on the issues that matter to them and stop the takeover of our government by an extremist minority, who is determined to take our country backwards. At NextGen America, we are ready to activate a whole new generation of leaders into action. They will ensure that Congress finally delivers on this issue and protect the rights of Americans to make decisions regarding their bodies."

"We fought this fight in 1973 and won, and we will win again."

Peter Drummond, For Our Future Wisconsin director:

"Today’s decision is a devastating unraveling of freedom. By abandoning decades of precedent and re-writing the Constitution, this is the first time in nearly 50 years that the Supreme Court will allow states to ban abortion at will. Make no mistake, this is a part of a broader effort by Republicans and the conservative majority on the Supreme Court to ban abortion, dismantle the right to make one’s own decisions about health care, and limit the rights of women across our country."

"Reproductive rights are core to the struggle for civil rights and economic justice. For Our Future stands with our allies who have been and continue to be on the frontlines of the fight to protect the right to access safe, legal abortion."

Heather Weininger, Wisconsin Right to Life executive director:

"Pro-life advocates have worked tirelessly for decades to protect preborn life from abortion, and today we are overwhelmed with joy to witness Roe V. Wade being overturned. But our work does not end here. We must continue to fight for our state statute to remain unchanged, and we must demand that it be enforced. We must work even harder to advocate for mothers facing unexpected or challenging pregnancies, and provide more life-affirming resources so that intentionally ending the life of a preborn child becomes an unthinkable option."

Danielle Butterfield, Priorities USA executive director:

"This ruling is a direct attack on women and marginalized communities that are doubly impacted by this unjust decision. Black and brown women, low-income women and those in the LGBTQ+ community will disproportionately bear the brunt of limited access to abortion care. It is an injustice of the Supreme Court and their right-wing, Republican allies to strip away a fundamental right that so many have relied upon for decades.

"While the Supreme Court has jeopardized abortion access, the battle for reproductive justice continues at the ballot box. Cycle after cycle, we at Priorities USA have been talking to voters from across the ideological spectrum who consistently cite abortion access as a major concern. Voters do not need to be convinced that Republicans want to strip away their right to this fundamental care. This decision will confirm their worst fears about the GOP. Priorities will continue our crucial efforts to educate voters about the consequences of this decision and the importance of electing pro-choice Democrats before Republicans roll back more of our fundamental rights.

"Although many voters have tuned out the news about politics and current events since 2020, Priorities’ online program has a proven ability to re-engage key constituencies. Centering abortion access in our messaging ahead of this midterm cycle is critical to mobilizing voters against the pressing threat Republicans pose to both reproductive rights and democracy. The threat of Republican extremism has only grown since 2020 and we’ll be reminding voters of exactly that to drive them to the polls."

Rachel O’Leary Carmona, Women’s March executive director:

"It’s no surprise that this illegitimate, far-right Supreme Court wants to take away our constitutionally protected rights. Instead of waiting around for a Court that abdicated its duties to protect the Constitution long ago, Democrats should have mobilized and fought for us. 

"But they failed. Now, like always, the burden falls to women to lead this fight. And we will be ungovernable, unmanageable, and unrelenting until this government starts working for us. We will fight back like we always have. And we will win. Don’t say we didn’t warn you." 

Leslie Dach, Protect Our Care chair:

"Today, the highest court in the land solidified its attack on fundamental human rights. By voting to overturn Roe, the Trump-appointed justices lied to the American people, disregarded the Constitution, and created a health care crisis. This decision will kickstart a wave of laws banning abortion, stripping millions of control of their own bodies and their right to safe access to care. 

"Every Republican lawmaker who voted for these justices owns this decision, and Americans will hold them accountable. The elected officials who want to ban abortions are the same people who refuse to support the Momnibus legislation, which would combat infant and maternal mortality crisis, oppose Medicaid expansion, which has proven to improve health outcomes for mothers and their babies, and are fighting common sense reforms to lower the cost of health care for working families. We won't give up the fight until access to safe, quality health care — including reproductive care — is a right for every American."

Wisconsin Medical Society President Wendy Molaska, MD:

"Today’s decision raises concerns that could result in significant interference with the physicianpatient relationship – the sanctity of which is the bedrock of our healthcare system. Defaulting to a law first created in 1849 is not the best path forward. Inevitable confusion over the continued validity of that 19 th century law makes proactive legislative action prudent. "The Wisconsin Medical Society supports legislation that would acknowledge the right of a physician to perform and give advice on this medical procedure – or refuse to do so according to the physician’s training, experience and conscience. "The health and safety of our patients is our top priority. Wisconsin law should reflect that priority and ensure physicians can have full and frank discussions with patients about their health care without fear of imprisonment." 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.