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Strong reaction across Milwaukee following leak of potential abortion ban

Posted at 6:06 PM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-06 10:37:52-04

MILWAUKEE — It's not uncommon to see people demonstrating outside the Affiliated Medical Service, an abortion clinic, on Farwell Avenue.

But the news about the possible overturn of Roe v. Wade drew more people than usual on Tuesday afternoon.

For hours, pro-life demonstrators trailed clinic escorts as they walked people into the clinic and back to their cars.

The division won't end if Roe flips, but the clinic may eventually close and other organizations that provide abortion-services would suffer as well.

"Abortion is a healthcare decision. It's a decision everybody should be able to make for themselves," said Tanya Atkinson, the president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin.

Atkinson has been with Planned Parenthood for nearly two decades.

"People are very, very devastated right now and they're very scared. The reality is, the laws, or the repeal of Roe, is not just about the law itself. It's about who gets to make decisions, and who has control over people's bodies," she said.

Atkinson said they're proceeding with the expectation that Roe will be repealed.

But she said they have a path forward — to convince the state to repeal Wisconsin's anti-abortion law, which has been powerless under Roe.

Pro-Life Wisconsin wants the state law to go further, which still allows abortion to save the life of the mother.

"The end goal is total protection for every pre-born child and every person," said Anna Demeuse, communications director at Pro-Life.

Demeuse said the draft opinion on Roe has given her organization much to hope for.

She also said Pro-Life understands women often face difficult decisions, including pregnancy resulting from rape. But the law, according to Pro-Life, should be a total ban.

“It’s validating and recognizing those are very tough scenarios. But in the same vein that those children are no less children than any other child conceived in any other circumstance," said Demeuse.

Molly Sisson has been volunteering as an abortion clinic escort since 2016, including a clinic on Milwaukee's east side.

"We help walk them from their car, inside, and also back out again," they said. "We also serve as kind of a buffer for someone to yell at in the interim and hopefully to avoid them yelling at patients."

Sisson may have to volunteer elsewhere if Roe is overturned. It's something they say they've been mentally preparing for.

"It's one of those things, you know, something is going to happen, but still really upsetting," Sisson said.

A report released by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services in 2022 shows how many abortions happen in the state. In 2020, data shows there were 6,430 abortions statewide. In 2019, that number was 6,511.

"We're out here to be a voice for the babies who have no voice on their own," said Dan Miller, the state director of Pro-Life Wisconsin.

Miller said he hopes he won't stand outside Wisconsin clinics and talk to patients for much longer.

"We let them know who we are, we have free information for them, we try to get it in their hands, and we put pregnancy centers across the street," Miller said.

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