Brief

Wisconsin AG Kaul fights Texas on abortion ban

By: - September 15, 2021 4:10 pm
Pro-choice activists with the National Organization For Women hold a vigil outside the U.S. Supreme Court on January 23, 2012 in Washington, DC. The vigil was held to mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Pro-choice activists with the National Organization For Women hold a vigil outside the U.S. Supreme Court on January 23, 2012 in Washington, DC. The vigil was held to mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul is one of 24 attorneys general filing an amicus brief Wednesday supporting the U.S. Department of Justice’s challenge of Texas’ extreme new abortion ban that starts at six weeks of pregnancy. The group of AGs seeks a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction of the law, which deputizes citizen vigilante enforcers, making it more difficult to challenge the near-ban on abortions in that state in court.

Josh Kaul at a news conference in Kenosha. 8/26/20
Attorney General Josh Kaul

The brief asserts that the Texas law, which took effect on Sept. 1, bans “nearly all previability abortions within Texas’s borders” as well as violating “nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent affirming the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before viability.”

The law has drawn additional scrutiny in Wisconsin as Republican gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Kleefisch stated this week that she wants Wisconsin to have a similar law.  “I will sign a heartbeat bill,” Kleefisch told conservative radio host Mark Belling, using the misnomer reference to a heartbeat, which is not present in the embryo that early in a pregnancy.  “I have a long history of being pro-life and I will fight for every human being with a heartbeat.”

The brief takes the Texas Legislature to task for seeking to circumvent prior Supreme Court rulings and preventing judicial review of the law by delegating enforcement to private individuals rather than government, calling this an “unprecedented attack on our constitutional order” as well as  “the rule of law.”

“This Texas law drastically restricts reproductive freedom and relies on a disturbing and likely unworkable bounty system to enforce it,” said Kaul in a statement. “This unconstitutional law treats the rule of law like a game and, if left in effect, will not only violate the rights of women in Texas but also spur harmful copycat legislation that would further infringe upon reproductive freedom. This law must be struck down.”

The brief also cites evidence that the law is having a significant impact on Texas abortion clinics and clinics in nearby states are reporting an increase in calls and visits from Texas patients seeking abortions, including, according to the release, all abortion clinics in New Mexico which have been “reportedly booked for weeks.”

According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, “Forcing a patient to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, the brief argues, will lead to negative health and socioeconomic consequences, including placing people who are forced to carry a pregnancy to term at greater risk of life-threatening illnesses and harming their ability to maintain full-time employment.” The Texas bill contains no exception for victims of rape or incest.

Rep. Barb Dittrich

Rep. Barbara Dittrich (R-Oconomowoc) expressed her displeasure in response to Kaul with this tweet: “This is SHAMEFUL, & I will continue my fight in the WI Legislature to protect the lives of those who are tomorrows, teachers, scientists, business owners, and leaders!”

In addition to Kaul, attorneys general submitting the brief are from the states of: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

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Melanie Conklin
Melanie Conklin

Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.

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