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Milwaukee Co. DA: Law enforcement does not want to get involved with enforcing abortion ban

Posted at 12:21 PM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 19:21:08-04

WISCONSIN — If Roe v. Wade is struck down, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said that while he believes prosecutors and police do not want to insert themselves between a woman and her physician, ultimately providers of abortion will no longer be able to operate in Wisconsin.

Watch our interview with Chisholm in the above video.

Chisholm made the comments after a draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court was leaked to the public. The draft stated the majority of the high court supports striking down Roe, which allows abortions across the country. Without Roe, the legality of abortions is up to the states.

Supreme Court Abortion
A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court, Monday night, May 2, 2002 in Washington. (AP Photo/Anna Johnson)

In Wisconsin, if Roe no longer existed, the law would revert back to a 1849 piece of legislation that outlaws abortions.

“This law would be directly holding abortion providers accountable if they continue to provide abortions in violation of the law. I do expect there will be enforcement," Wisconsin Right to Life legislative director Gracie Skogman said.

Currently, if Roe v Wade is overturned, 23 states would restrict or ban abortions, including Wisconsin, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Wisconsin Right to Life says it expects abortion providers to follow the law as they did in Texas after it changed its abortion law last year.

“There would be that immediate chilling effect," Skogman said. "Planned Parenthood and abortion providers would be unable and I believe unwilling to violate the law. It would put them in a very difficult position, and then we would have to have the conversation that DA would be prosecuting cases if they do violate the law."

Gracie Skogman
Wisconsin Right to Life legislative director Gracie Skogman says if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade than an 1849 Wisconsin law that restricts abortions will be back in place.

Chisholm said he is not sure if police would want to be involved.

"I don't know of any prosecutor or police agency that wants to get involved in investigating and potentially prosecuting the relationship between a women and her physician," Chisholm said. "In the short term, ultimately I think it means providers of those services will no longer operate in the State of Wisconsin."

Chisholm leads the Milwaukee County DA's Office, which is in charge of prosecuting criminal cases in the county.

Chisholm continued, saying "It's troubling, is all I can say about it, because things have changed in 50 years. Things have changed dramatically in 50 years in a sense that if you went back to 1970, probably 98 percent of every public safety agency - that would include police, prosecutors, public defenders, courts, corrections - it was a male-dominated field. And the perspective of how we best serve our community has changed in 50 years. I would say well over 50 percent of my office is female."

"I just can't imagine how inserting us back into the decisions made between a woman and her physician are going to help us in the public safety realm," Chisholm said.

Wisconsin’s abortion ban passed in 1849, and made unenforceable by Roe, would not take hold until the majority opinion is published. The court is expected to rule on the case before its term ends in late June or early July, according to the Associated Press. The draft opinion was made in a case challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks, a case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Chisholm also says with a backed up court system in Milwaukee County on top of a record crime rate, he doesn’t want to add this to the list.

 District Attorney John Chisholm on roe v wade
“I don’t know of any prosecutor or police agency that wants to get involved in investigating and potentially prosecuting the relationship between a woman and her physician,” said Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm on what he thinks about Roe v. Wade potentially being overturned by the US Supreme Court.

“We have unbelievable demands being made on us right now to try to address the surge in violence, overdose deaths, reckless driving. They have already taxed law enforcement and court and prosecutorial and defense resources to the max. Now you are asking us to, again, insert what police officers are going to investigate doctors,” said Chisholm.

TMJ4 reached out to some area sheriff’s for comment on this potential law change. Only the Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth responded saying he was not commenting on this matter.

Both Chisholm and the Wisconsin Right to Life says there are still a lot of unknowns on how any enforcement would happen without a final Supreme Court decision.

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