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     By Elisha Brown

The debate over abortion access is playing out on two fronts in Wisconsin: In a Supreme Court race and in the legislature. (Baylor Spears/Wisconsin Examiner)

The debate over abortion access is playing out on two fronts in Wisconsin: In a Supreme Court race and in the legislature. 
(Baylor Spears/Wisconsin Examiner)

An election for an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court will likely determine the future of abortion access, voting rights and state legislative maps in the state, according to our colleagues at Wisconsin Examiner. 

The candidates, Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz and former high court Justice Dan Kelly, accused each other of lying and extremism during the only debate in the race on Tuesday, the same day Wisconsin Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill to repeal the state’s draconian abortion ban. The election — officially nonpartisan but Democrats back Protasiewicz and Republicans back Kelly  —  is less than two weeks away on April 4, and early voting has started. 

In North Carolina, some doctors talked about the difficulty of caring for patients with high-risk pregnancies in speaking out against attempts by Republican lawmakers to impose further restrictions on abortion access, NC Policy Watch reported Wednesday. But Senate Bill 353 would remove several of those restrictions including a 20-week abortion ban, a 72-hour waiting period, and a prohibition on telehealth appointments for abortion pill prescriptions, Policy Watch reported. Called the RBG Act in honor of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, SB 353 would treat “abortion like all other medical care,” said Sen. Natasha Marcus, a Democrat who is sponsoring the measure.

Elsewhere in the country: An anti-abortion rights group in Ohio sued the Ballot Board for approving a proposed abortion rights constitutional amendment. A Nevada Democrat introduced a bill that would require hospitals to stock IUDs as a postpartum birth control option, but rural health care advocates in the state, which has seen several closures of obstetrics units, oppose the measure. And a Wyoming judge issued an injunction against the state's days-old abortion ban, the Associated Press reported. Here’s the latest:

THE BEAT States Newsroom coverage

Ohio abortion opponents sue state Ballot Board for approving abortion rights petition

Members of Cincinnati Right to Life filed a lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court against the state Ballot Board this week after the body approved the language of a proposed constitutional amendment on abortion rights, according to Ohio Capital Journal. The plaintiffs asked the court to undo the March 13 decision and want the Ballot Board to state that the petition’s language contained more than one proposed amendment. 

The suit cited the now-overturned 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which said abortion was an “inherently different” right than other personal rights and argued that the ballot language contains multiple amendments.This legal challenge posed by abortion opponents sets up Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, to defend the decision. Yost initially certified the amendment proposal before sending it to the Ballot Board. Over in the General Assembly, Senate President Matt Huffman (R) plans to propose a measure that would increase the threshold needed to amend the state constitution.


Wisconsin Democrats want to repeal abortion ban; Supreme Court candidates spar

Two weeks before the Wisconsin Supreme Court election, state Democrats introduced a bill that would repeal the state’s 1849 abortion ban, Wisconsin Examiner reported. The bill is unlikely to pass in the Republican-controlled legislature. Republicans introduced a bill last week that would add rape and incest exceptions to the 1849 law, which only allows abortions to save the life of the mother, but Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu rejected the proposal.

Wisconsin residents support abortion access, according to a Marquette University Law School poll. “In a November poll, 55% of people said they opposed the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and 84% of people said Wisconsin should allow a woman to obtain a legal abortion who becomes pregnant as the result of rape or incest,’’ the Examiner reported.

Also on Tuesday: the Wisconsin State Bar hosted a debate for the candidates competing for a key high court seat. The winner of the April 4 election will be a swing vote in cases that will determine the future of abortion access, state legislative maps and voting rights in Wisconsin. Though the race is technically nonpartisan, Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz is running as a liberal, while former Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly is running as a conservative. As expected, the judges accused each other of lying and partisanship.


Nevada bill would widen postpartum birth control access

Doctors typically encourage new mothers to wait a year after birth before getting pregnant again, according to Nevada Current. Senate Bill 280, which received a committee hearing Tuesday, would require hospitals to carry IUDs, the most effective form of birth control, in case postpartum patients would like them inserted after childbirth. The bill, introduced by Democratic state Sen. Rochelle Nguyen, would also require Medicaid and other insurers to cover the costs of IUD insertion after birth. 

While a variety of health care organizations supported SB280, Nevada Rural Hospital Partners opposed the bill as introduced. Only three out of 13 rural hospitals in Nevada have labor and delivery units, meaning many births occur in emergency rooms. Rural health care providers said they were skeptical that ER providers can insert IUDs safely.


THE PULL Commentary from Kansas

“Despite the important issues facing our state — from jobs to health care to schools — certain anti-abortion lawmakers in Topeka have focused primarily on interfering in the private lives of more than a million Kansans.” – Ashley All, former Kansans for Constitutional Freedom spokesperson, Kansas Reflector 


THE PULSE Reproductive rights news across the country

  • The Kansas House voted to advance a bill that would require providers to perform health care on aborted fetuses. (Kansas Reflector.) 
  • A Wyoming OB-GYN said she had to cancel appointments for six patients due to the latest abortion ban. (WyoFile.) 
  • Republicans in Congress want to block a new military policy that helps service members get abortions. (Texas Public Radio.) 
  • A profile on Dr. Leah Torres, an OB-GYN in Alabama who has faced an onslaught of attacks, including online harassment and a revoked medical license, for her work. (The Guardian.)

STATE BY STATE Abortion access in the U.S.


Track state-level developments on reproductive rights anytime at News From The States. Send tips and thoughts to ebrown@statesnewsroom.com, and follow her on Twitter @elishacbrown.

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