Press Releases ICYMI: Gov. Evers Calls Special Session To Create Pathway for a Referendum on Abortion Access

MADISON, Wis. — Today, Governor Tony Evers signed an executive order calling a special session of the Wisconsin State Legislature to create a pathway for voters to decide on abortion access in Wisconsin.

Gov. Evers believes the will of the people is the law of the land. Wisconsin’s constitution currently does not allow statewide referendum, but this proposal would give voters an important voice on multiple issues, including access to abortion. 

Gov. Evers’ proposal has bipartisan support, as U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson newly suggested last week that the issue of abortion should be brought to a statewide referendum.

During his first term, Gov. Evers has vetoed nine anti-abortion bills, and earlier this year, Gov. Evers led a coalition of governors calling on Congress to protect reproductive freedom and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. 

“On the ceiling of the Governor’s Conference Room in the Capitol is a phrase I’ve often repeated over the last three years: ‘the will of the people is the law of the land.’ Well, right now in Wisconsin, when it comes to reproductive freedom, the will of the people isn’t the law of the land—but it damn well should be,” said Gov. Evers. “Today, I’m calling the Legislature into special session to create a pathway for Wisconsinites to be able to repeal our 1849-era criminal abortion ban and to ensure women across our state will go back to having the same rights now that they did the day before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade without having to wait for the courts.”

See below for a roundup of coverage on Gov. Evers’ call for a special session. 

AP: Wisconsin’s Evers proposes pathway for abortion vote

  • “Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, who is making abortion rights a central focus of his reelection campaign, called Wednesday for a special session of the Republican-controlled Legislature to pass a measure creating a way for voters to repeal the state’s 1849 abortion ban.”

CBS 58: Gov. Evers calls special session to vote on “pathway” to repeal state abortion ban

  • “Currently, Wisconsin does not have a process that allows voters to propose new state laws or constitutional amendments by petitioning to hold a referendum vote, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau.”
  • “Governor Evers wants to change that by calling lawmakers back into session on Oct. 5th to take up a constitutional amendment to allow voters to weigh in on issues such as abortion. Constitutional amendments need to pass two consecutive sessions before voters weigh in.”

Channel 3000: Evers calls special session to amend constitution to allow public vote on abortion law

  • “‘Right now today, when it comes to reproductive freedom, the will of the people isn’t the law of the land,” Evers said. “But it damn well should be, folks, it really should be.’”
  • “Sen. Ron Johnson, one of Wisconsin’s leading Republicans, suggested last week that voters should decide how the 1849 law is changed, an opinion that Evers shares.”

NBC 15: Evers calls for special session over Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban

  • “Evers wants to put the decision up to the people. The governor argued that unlike other states, including Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, Wisconsin does not allow voters to change state laws by a referendum.”

WBAY: Wisconsin Gov. Evers calls special session to create pathway to repealing abortion ban

  • “Unlike other states where abortion has been placed on the ballot, Wisconsin law does not allow voters to change state law by referendum. The process to amend the state’s constitution takes legislative passage and then a vote in an election. Evers is proposing changes that would allow voters to bypass the Legislature, creating a statewide binding referendum process through a constitutional amendment.”