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Reproductive Justice Action Milwaukee calls for protests on the 1-year anniversary of Roe v. Wade overturn

By staff

Milwaukee press conference urging protests on anniversary of overturning of Roe

Milwaukee, WI – At a press conference on the evening of April 30, members of Reproductive Justice Action Milwaukee (RJAM) and Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) addressed local media with a call to action for people in Milwaukee and around the country to mobilize on June 24, the day that marks a year since the overturning of Roe.

Haley McNeil, the logistics and finance chair for RJAM, said that the Dobbs decision, “left the majority of the country without access to legal abortion care due to trigger laws. The people most impacted by this are working-class Black and brown people. Without access to legal abortion and other reproductive health services, marginalized communities are at greater risk of mortality due to complications; where Black women are 3x more likely to die during child labor.”

“Throughout the past ten months, RJA-M has built a movement in Milwaukee County to fight for safe, sustainable communities and reproductive justice by taking it to the streets. We’ve seen that we cannot rely on voting alone, as electeds rarely follow through on their campaign promises. That's why we need to continue to be out there fighting,” McNeil said. “However, we can show up in the streets all we want, but nothing concrete will come if we are not organized in our efforts and direct with our demands.”

McNeil continued, “We're calling for this national day of action in the hopes of building a nationwide grassroots movement to restore national abortion access. The demands of this day of action are: one, reinstate Row v. Wade and codify abortion access; two, federal funding for reproductive health and women's health; and three, public access to contraceptives and menstrual products for all. Additionally, RJAM is calling for the overturning of state statute 940.04.”

RJAM has done a number of things already in their overall fight to win back abortion rights for people in Milwaukee and all across Wisconsin. The first struggle ended in a ballot initiative that asked the residents of Milwaukee County whether they wanted to see the state's abortion ban overturned. The results were overwhelmingly in favor of striking the law from the books, with 76% of voters voting 'Yes'.

In that same election, a new Wisconsin Supreme Court justice was elected, flipping the court from a conservative to a more liberal majority and inspiring hope for legal changes. The electoral result represents the will of the broader state population, as one of the main things incoming Justice Janet Protasiewicz ran on was abortion. Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul is currently pushing forward a lawsuit that, if successful, would result in the overturning of 940.04 and therefore would legally end the abortion ban in Wisconsin. This result, however, is not guaranteed.

“Whatever the result of the court case, we will continue to be in the streets and fighting for reproductive justice for people in this city and all over Wisconsin,” said Lauren Forbush, a leader with RJAM.

“While it's good that the case headed by AG Kaul is moving forward, we were never hedging all our bets on the outcomes of this bureaucratic process,” said Ryan Hamann, a leader with FRSO. “The fact is that the people and the people alone are the motive force in the making of history.”

RJAM has since moved on to demanding that Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm sign a binding pledge to not prosecute anyone giving or receiving an abortion within his jurisdiction. Chisholm offered his verbal support for such a course of action months ago, but in follow-up meetings and communications with RJAM, he has come up with every excuse to not put it in writing.

Additionally, the organization is fighting for another resolution through the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors that would provide funding for Milwaukee County employees to seek reproductive healthcare outside the state. This comes after a similar resolution was passed in Dane County where Madison, the state's capitol, resides.

As the conditions in Wisconsin begin to shift in favor of the movement for legal abortion, RJAM is committed to the long struggle, not just for abortion but for expanded reproductive healthcare, a broad category that includes things ranging from universal access to contraceptives to the availability of labor and delivery units in all communities and more.

“We’ve seen the effort it took to get Roe established, but Roe is the floor when it comes to the possibilities of what reproductive healthcare can be. We must build a better and more sustainable system for our communities,” said McNeil. “With a nationwide grassroots movement we can continue to fight back and achieve nationwide legal abortion access on demand!”

#MilwaukeeWI #AbortionRights #reproductiveJustice