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Wisconsin Republicans want referendum on abortion

Published: 27.12.2023

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- Leading Republican politicians from the US state of Wisconsin have announced their desire to hold a referendum on the state's abortion law.

- The debate currently taking place on the legal protection of life is the result of a 2022 Supreme Court ruling that the so-called right to abortion is not guaranteed by the provisions of the US Constitution.

- As a result of the Supreme Court's ruling, the issue came under the jurisdiction of individual states.

- Also in Poland there are ideas of holding a referendum on the permissibility of abortion.


The proposal of the Republicans

On Wednesday, December 20, Robin Vos - Speaker (chairman) of the Wisconsin State Assembly expressed his desire to hold a referendum in which the state's residents would decide on the shape of the abortion law. According to the politician, who represents the Republicans, the subject of the vote should be the question of the period within which abortion would be legally permitted. Currently, Wisconsin law allows the most vulnerable babies to be deprived of their lives up to 20 weeks of pregnancy, while the referendum, according to Speaker, would propose lowering this period to between 12 and 15 weeks.

"This is probably the only way we can end this issue," - Robin Vos said in a recent interview, referring to the controversy and emotion surrounding the public debate on the legal regulation of abortion. Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who has long called for a referendum in which Wisconsin voters would decide the issue of abortion's legality, spoke in a similar vein. "I still believe that 'we the people' , decide the profound moral issue of abortion, which is the only way to find a reasonable consensus that the majority of people will accept." - Senator Johnson stated on Wednesday.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has already announced his opposition to the initiative under discussion. "I will veto any bill that would make reproductive health care less accessible to Wisconsin residents than it is today," he said. - the Democratic Party politician noted on Thursday.

In this context, it is also worth mentioning the statement of Vice President Kamala Harris, who recently announced that she will launch a special tour of the United States dedicated to the promotion of "reproductive freedoms." Its inauguration will be a meeting in Wisconsin on January 2, 2024 - the 51st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling. This testifies to the clearly pro-abortion course of Kamala Harris, as well as her Democratic-centered circle.

Landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling

The controversy over the legal protection of life stems from the 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, in which the U.S. Supreme Court challenged the previous line of jurisprudence, which began with the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling and was reaffirmed with the 1991 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling, which held that the right to abortion derives from the U.S. Constitution. In its most recent ruling, the Supreme Court said that decisions made in previous rulings were wrong and need to be overturned, and that the U.S. Constitution itself does not guarantee the right to abortion, thus undermining a precedent that has been in effect for nearly 50 years. As a result, the issue of legal regulation of abortion has once again been placed within the purview of each of the 50 states, which will be able to decide the shape of their laws relating to abortion at the state law level, a return to the situation before Roe v. Wade in 1973.

After the verdict was announced, an intense debate flared up anew in the United States regarding legal solutions to the matter at hand. Most states decided to regulate the issue of abortion through laws passed by local legislatures. In some of them, however, it was decided to settle the issue through popular votes. Several states have decided on such a solution, with different variations. Thus, in 2022, the residents of, California, Michigan and Vermont decided by an overwhelming majority, through a referendum, to write the so-called right to abortion into the state constitutions there. In Kansas, on the other hand, in August of the same year, an amendment to the Constitution stating that the constitution there does not guarantee the right to abortion was rejected. Also in Ohio, in a referendum held this November, that state's citizens supported writing a right to abortion into the state Constitution. In contrast, the vote in Montana, where by a slim majority the citizens of that state voted against a law requiring abortionists to make every effort to save the life of a child born as a result of a failed abortion, may be particularly shocking.

Human rights cannot be voted on

As you can see, due to the controversy surrounding this topic, some politicians from the states decided to wash their hands and put the issue of protecting human life to the people for a popular vote. All such proposals have ended in abject defeat for those who care about protecting the most vulnerable. This can be evidenced by the voting results in conservative states such as Kansas and Ohio, where residents voted against solutions to increase the scope of protection for unborn life.

The very fact that the issue of protecting human life was put to a popular vote raises numerous objections. The right to life, which is a fundamental right of every human being and conditions the possibility of exercising all other rights, cannot be subject to the decisions of other people. This is because it belongs to every human being from the moment of conception until natural death.

Patryk Ignaszczak - analyst at the Ordo Iuris Center for International Law

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