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Wisconsin Attorney General Says He Won’t Enforce State Abortion Ban if Roe Is Overturned

AP Photo/Andy Manis

Wisconsin’s Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, said in an interview on Tuesday that he would not enforce a state law criminalizing abortion should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade


Kaul made the remarks to the Associated Press, where he was asked about how he would react if the Court overturns Roe in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which pertains to a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi. 

Wisconsin, the AP notes, is one of nine states with an abortion law on the books that predates Roe. The law, enacted in 1849, criminalized abortion in the state. It has been unenforceable since 1973, when Roe became law of the land. If Roe is overturned, the 171-year-old law should go back into effect. 

Kaul told the AP that “it’s not clear what exactly the [abortion] law in Wisconsin would be if Roe v. Wade is struck down. That would depend on exactly how the Supreme Court rules and resolving legal issues related to enforcing a law that hasn’t been in use for nearly 50 years.”

Kaul also said that as state AG, he would not enforce the law if it went back into effect.

“Even if courts were to interpret that law as being enforceable, as attorney general I would not use the resources of the Wisconsin Department of Justice either to investigate alleged violations of that abortion ban or to prosecute alleged violations of it,” Kaul told the AP.

“The Justice Department is focused on investigating crimes of statewide importance like homicide, sexual assault, and arson,” he added. “Diverting resources from those important cases to the kinds of cases that could be brought under abortion ban, which I also believe to be unconstitutional, is not something that I would do as attorney general.”


Kaul argued that enforcing the 1849 abortion statute would also result in “serious negative consequences,” including death.

“It would result in serious negative consequences, including potentially the death of women who wanted to seek exercise for nearly 50 years been understood to be a constitutionally protected right,” Kaul said to the AP.

Similarly, in a recent interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Vice President Kamala Harris said that “women will die” if the Supreme Court overturns Roe

“I’m very concerned about it,” she told the Chronicle. “Women will die. In particular, women who don’t have economic resources and can’t then travel to places or somehow have access to safe reproductive health care, including abortion.”


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