The most closely-watched election in the U.S. in 2023 appears to be the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, which will be decided after Tuesday.
Whoever wins — either Janet Protasiewicz or Dan Kelly — will tip the majority of the court to one political side or the other.
That’s important because the court is expected to make rulings on abortion rights soon, as well as potentially other huge issues.
Cecile Richards, a former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation, is worried about the threat of prison time for abortion providers under Wisconsin law.
“The thought that doctors and clinicians who provide abortion services to people in Wisconsin could be punished with up to six years in prison for providing life-saving care is unacceptable, and it’s frightening,” Richards said.
Richards spoke to Wisconsin reporters on the March 31 anniversary of Wisconsin’s abortion ban, adopted 174 years ago, back in 1849.
The court’s majority, for at least the next two years, will depend on whether conservative Kelly or progressive Protasiewicz is chosen by voters.
Wisconsin Democratic Party chair Ben Wikler said the four-vote majority is expected to rule on what abortion laws could be in place around the state.
Wikler added that the election will decide whether the majority “will be four votes that recognize the realities of the law, and in effect lift the impossible burden of this 1849 ban from the backs of people who can get pregnant across the state of Wisconsin, or whether we’ll have a 4-3 conservative majority.”
The 1849 law banning abortion in Wisconsin took effect again last summer, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe vs. Wade ruling from 1973.
It’s one exception is to save the mother’s life, but doctors cannot predict when a mother’s life would need to be saved, therefore making the exception nearly impossible to defend.