It’s Still 1849 in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, we are celebrating because the door out of the Dark Ages seems to have been opened just a crack. We have a new Supreme Court justice, a progressive who openly supports women’s right to choose, a stance that seems bold and daring in a state where, as soon as Roe was overturned, conservative public officials fell back into the embrace of an anti-abortion law passed in 1849.

They did it with straight faces.

So, Wisconsin women in search of abortion must travel to another state. This means they need the wherewithal – the cash, time, transportation – to travel to and from. A young friend of mine told me of how a friend of hers asked for a ride to the state line which she couldn’t give her because of work, and I thought, that’s where we are. On our own. Or rather, that’s where they are, since I am too old to be affected. They are on their own.

I remember the feeling, though. Of being abandoned and witless. Of having someone tell me that for $250, I could go to New York to get what needed to be done done. I couldn’t fathom it. Not the $250 or the traveling out of state or anything. I was ignorant and paralyzed.

Women now are more competent, more able to get information, make connections, find the money, get on a plane. I say that but I don’t know it to be true. Something fundamental – like basic health care – suddenly becomes illegal and people freeze. What was normal becomes criminal, a fact of life becomes a dark secret – everyone must be tight-lipped.

It is a good thing that we now have a majority progressive Supreme Court in Wisconsin. But it is really all we have. We don’t have the legislative votes to overturn the 1849 law despite that being the public’s overwhelming desire. We have months and years of legal wrangling, lawyers sitting in rows at the Wisconsin Supreme Court, while case after case eats away at the oppression of an 1849 law. Meanwhile, friends will be asking friends for rides to the state line and their friends will have to work and they’ll be as abandoned and witless as I was fifty years ago.

That’s where we are right now. We have hope. We shouldn’t need to have hope but that’s what we’ve got.


Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

5 Comments on “It’s Still 1849 in Wisconsin

  1. It’s not a great time to be old, but I think it’s an awful time to be young. I remember NOT have Roe vs. Wade until I was in my 20s and thinking “Finally, sanity!” And now, INsanity. However screwed up Massachusetts is, at least we are protecting women and the LGBT community. It’s an evil world that has come upon us.

  2. I will not be surprised by a return of the Jane Collective… They will need people who remember

  3. Thanks, Jan. So true and so sad. (I’m holding in my rage…)

  4. I was really following this election and was so happy for Wisconsin. I’m also happy for Michigan, as we have a Dem majority for the first time in many years, and women at the top who are strong and not wasting any time getting us back on track.

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