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Milwaukee organizations demand Assembly Speaker Vos hold public hearing for Reproductive Freedom Act

By staff

Protesters hold signs with slogans like "Down with Dobbs" and "We won'd go back, we want Roe back".

Milwaukee, WI – On Friday, February 16, Reproductive Justice Action – Milwaukee (RJAM) held a press conference outside of Milwaukee City Hall to call on Wisconsin Assembly Leader Robin Vos to hold a public hearing for the Reproductive Freedom Act.

RJAM Chair Lauren Forbush started off the press conference with a chant, “When reproductive rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” 

“We are outside City Hall this morning to call attention to the Reproductive Freedom Act. The Reproductive Freedom Act would expand access to abortion services statewide,” Forbush said.

Isabella Gargi of RJAM was the first speaker for the press conference. “This legislation has three parts. The first part restores the power of individuals to make their own pregnancy health care decisions by removing medically unnecessary restrictions and bans on abortion care, and removes inappropriate political interference from the doctor-patient relationships. The second part affirms the obligation of health care providers to provide medically accurate information to patients and creates a right for patients to receive medically accurate information from their healthcare provider; and the third part ensures that publicly funded pregnancy counseling services provide all options counseling and services.”

Maya Seshan from Medical Students for Choice used her speaking time to highlight the need for a public hearing for the Reproductive Freedom Act. “Voters across Wisconsin have affirmed the need and right to be able to access abortion care! Restrictive abortion laws affect patients, healthcare providers, and medical workers.”

After voicing her support for the public hearing, she went on to explain how the previous abortion ban has impacted pregnant people with life-threatening complications during pregnancy. One of these conditions is preeclampsia, which causes life-threatening complications to the pregnant person during pregnancy, and if they continue with giving birth they can experience life-threatening conditions postpartum as well. Preeclampsia is only diagnosed at or after 20-weeks of gestation, while the current abortion restrictions in Wisconsin only allow abortion up to 21 weeks.

“Under current Wisconsin law, this condition cannot be treated safely. All healthcare professionals and patients will experience uncertainty until the Reproductive Freedom Act is codified into law,” Seshan said.

The next speaker was Tracey Schwertfeger, a registered nurse and leader with the Saint Francis Hospital chapter of Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals Local 5000. She spoke in favor of a public hearing for the Reproductive Freedom Act on behalf of labor activists in the medical field.

Schwertfeger stated, “Abortion access is access to healthcare and access to freedom. The denial of access is an undue burden on people, disproportionately affecting those who are already marginalized and facing socioeconomic challenges. Our duty as healthcare professionals is to advocate for equitable care ensuring that all people can exercise their right to make informed decisions about their reproductive health. By facilitating an open discussion on this matter, we have a democratic process that is for us, by us!”

The last speaker was Blake Jones of RJAM, who read off a statement from the authors of the Reproductive Freedom Act, Senator Kelda Roys and Representative Francesca Hong. The statement went on to reiterate the three components of the bill and emphasized, “A key piece is about ensuring Wisconsinites have access to evidence-based information to make the best decisions for themselves.”

To close out the press conference, Reproductive Justice Action – Milwaukee called on all Wisconsinites to demand Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to hold a public hearing for the Reproductive Freedom Act. Back in January, the Wisconsin Assembly on Health, Aging, and Long-Term Care held a public hearing for a proposed referendum that would enact a five-week abortion ban. These activists believe that if the committee held a public hearing for legislation to take away healthcare access, they must hold a public hearing for legislation to expand healthcare access.

You can help support this demand by participating in their call-in and email-in campaigns to demand the public hearing. Check out @reproductivejusticeaction on Instagram to find out more information about this ongoing campaign and RJAM’s fight to expand abortion access in Wisconsin.

#MilwaukeeWI #ReproductiveJustice #AbortionRights #AbortionAccess #RoevWade #WomensLiberation #ReproductiveFreedomAct