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Wisconsin Republican says there can be 'positive outcomes in rape situations'

State Rep. Donna Rozar made the comment while introducing a bill to create rape and incest exceptions for Wisconsin’s draconian ban on abortion.

By Emily Singer - March 16, 2023
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Protesters in the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda demonstrate in support of overturning the state's near total ban on abortion on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, in Madison.
Protesters are seen in the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda during a march supporting overturning Wisconsin's near total ban on abortion Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

A Wisconsin Republican state representative said on Wednesday that there can be “positive outcomes in rape situations,” but that she would allow victims of rape and incest to get abortions.

State Rep. Donna Rozar made the comment at a news conference during which she announced that she’s co-authoring a bill that would create rape and incest exceptions to Wisconsin’s 1849 law that bans abortion, allowing victims to access the procedure at up to 12 weeks’ gestation. At the press conference, Rozar said:

Because I personally believe in life from conception to natural death, it is important that we tell women who are victims of rape and incest, to support them if they choose to carry those pregnancies to term.

 

I have had friends and family members who have been a victim of rape — not of incest — but of rape, and that pregnancy was carried to term. There was support there, that baby was relinquished for adoption, and I’m sure blessed the family in another state that the baby was adopted into. So, I know there can be positive outcomes in rape situations where babies are carried to term and then relinquished for adoption.

Currently, abortion is banned in Wisconsin by a law enacted in 1849 that makes it a felony to perform the procedure except in cases in which it’s necessary to preserve the life of a pregnant person. The law, which had remained on the books even after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973 rendered it unconstitutional, went into effect after the court overturned Roe last year, once again allowing states to ban the procedure before fetal viability, which is considered to be around 23 weeks’ gestation. Rozar’s bill would amend the law, allowing for rape and incest exceptions, as well as clarifying the medical conditions under which abortion is allowed to preserve the life of a pregnant person.

“Is this an ideal bill? No, it’s not an ideal bill because we should be protecting all life, but this is not an ideal world,” Rozar said at the news conference, according to the Wisconsin Examiner. “This is a world where bad things happen, tragic things happen, horrific things happen to people. We have 10-, 11-, 12-year-old victims of rape and incest, very dangerous for them to carry a pregnancy to term. It’s in the best interest to put these exceptions on there.”

Republicans unveiled the bill three weeks before a hotly contested Wisconsin Supreme Court election that will determine the ideological balance of a court that could decide the fate of abortion rights in the state.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit in the Dane County Circuit Court that seeks to overturn the 1849 law. If the case makes it to the state Supreme Court, a conservative majority could uphold the law, while a liberal majority could overturn it.

Conservative Supreme Court nominee Daniel Kelly has condemned abortion and is supported by anti-abortion groups; liberal nominee Janet Protasiewitcz openly supports abortion rights.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vowed to veto the Republicans’ bill if it passes the state Legislature.

“I’ve been clear from the beginning — I won’t sign a bill that leaves Wisconsin women with fewer rights and freedoms than they had before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe,” Evers said in a statement. “An overwhelming majority of Wisconsin supports restoring Roe and repealing our 1849-era criminal abortion ban, and I won’t sign anything less.”

Yet it’s unclear whether the Republican-sponsored bill could pass the Republican-controlled Legislature.

State Sen. Mary Felzowski, who co-authored the legislation with Rozar, said the bill doesn’t have enough support to pass in the Senate, according to the Wisconsin Examiner.

The Examiner reported that Senate Majority Leader Devil LeMahieu said in a statement: “This is not a topic to use as a political football. It takes careful consideration; speaking to our constituents and our families. Further discussion on this specific proposal is unnecessary. The bill will not be considered on the floor of the Senate.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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