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Madison fights back for abortion 

We’re following the response to this week’s Roe news, and would like to hear your stories.
Header image: In a photo taken from the steps of the state Capitol, protestors hold up handwritten signs on cardboard and poster board, with state street visible in the background. Photo by Emily Mills.
Header image: In a photo taken from the steps of the state Capitol, protestors hold up handwritten signs on cardboard and poster board, with state street visible in the background. Photo by Emily Mills.

We’re following the response to this week’s Roe news, and would like to hear your stories.

We knew it was coming. The U.S. Supreme Court’s potential to overturn Roe v. Wade has been a constant, escalating threat. Regulations aimed at limiting—or eliminating—access to abortions have created a patchwork of restrictions that vary state-to-state, including in Wisconsin, while Trump’s SCOTUS appointments of justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett pushed us closer to a ruling that would return control of abortion rights entirely to gerrymandered state legislatures.

This is not a surprise, right? (Unless you’re Republican Senators Collins or Murkowski, or Montana Democrat Jon Tester, apparently). 

And yet it still manages to be a shock. 

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An 1849 Wisconsin law making it a felony to provide an abortion is still on the books and would go into effect this summer if Roe is dismantled. Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul questioned its enforceability and predicted legal disputes, but that wouldn’t prevent Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from ceasing services.

Madison’s response so far

On Tuesday night, over 1,000 people gathered at the Capitol building downtown—and across the country—in support of Roe v. Wade and abortion access. Another protest is scheduled for this Saturday afternoon, also at the Capitol.

A crowd stretches across the  Capitol lawn and sidewalks in front of the state Capitol building. Groups carrying red banners that read "BUILD A SOCIALIST FEMINIST MOVEMENT" and "ydsa" march towards the camera. Photo by Emily Mills.
A crowd stretches across the  Capitol lawn and sidewalks in front of the state Capitol building. Groups carrying red banners that read “BUILD A SOCIALIST FEMINIST MOVEMENT” and “ydsa” march towards the camera. Photo by Emily Mills

The protests on Tuesday were in response to a leaked draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that would overturn Roe if it stands as a final ruling. But protestors’ anger and grief need not only focus on the nearly-inevitable “if” of the removal of the meager protections offered by Roe. This potential ruling from SCOTUS would merely cement the ongoing, steady erosion of abortion rights that disproportionately impacts Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color, disabled people, poor people, and LGBTQ+ people.Wisconsin—today—has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. The Women’s Medical Fund of Wisconsin, a nonprofit that provides financial support to people seeking abortions (donate to them!), shows that only four clinics remaining in the entire state—most in Madison and Milwaukee—provide abortions, but there are about 80 misleading “crisis pregnancy centers.”

This potential ruling from SCOTUS would merely cement the ongoing, steady erosion of abortion rights that disproportionately impacts Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color, disabled people, poor people, and LGBTQ+ people.

Wisconsin—today—has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. The Women’s Medical Fund of Wisconsin, a nonprofit that provides financial support to people seeking abortions (donate to them!), shows that only four clinics remaining in the entire state—most in Madison and Milwaukee—provide abortions, but there are about 80 misleading “crisis pregnancy centers.”

A person wearing a pink baseball cap stands facing the Capitol holding sign that reads "TRANS INCLUSIVE FEMINISM ALWAYS" with the pink and blue stripes of the Transgender Pride Flag drawn in the background. Photo by Hayley Sperling.
A person wearing a pink baseball cap stands facing the Capitol holding sign that reads “TRANS INCLUSIVE FEMINISM ALWAYS” with the pink and blue stripes of the Transgender Pride Flag drawn in the background. Photo by Hayley Sperling.

A greater unraveling

Some political histories of abortion in the U.S. point to Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign for the presidency, just years after Roe in 1973, as a key moment that transformed the issue into a fanatical crusade for the American right. But controlling the bodies of women, trans people, and nonbinary people has always been political.

The leaked draft opinion, published by Politico, outlines a legal argument that would undermine an array of rights dealing with marriage and sex, particularly targeting LGBTQ+ people. We are in the midst of a flood of legislation targeting access to healthcare for transgender people. The convergence of these efforts threatens to enshrine rigid ideas about gender and sexuality, with consequences ranging from the oppressive to the flat-out lethal.

Amid a sea of people on the Capitol Square, a black sign with white block letters that read "ABORTION IS HEALTHCARE" comes into focus. Photo by Hayley Sperling.
Amid a sea of people on the Capitol Square, a black sign with white block letters that read “ABORTION IS HEALTHCARE” comes into focus. Photo by Hayley Sperling.

Want to share your abortion stories with us?

There are a number of ongoing projects nationally and globally to collect abortion stories and oral histories. The abortion diary podcast was created by Melissa Madera in 2013. Advocates for Youth hosts Abortion Out Loud. Many more are listed in research and recommendations for sharing your abortion story publicly, written by Renee Bracey Sherman and The Sea Change Program. 

If you’re considering sharing your story, those recommendations include resources and questions to keep in mind. Many abortion storytelling projects list overcoming stigma associated with abortion as one of their goals. We should talk about abortion, and we shouldn’t feel ashamed. But it is also no individual’s responsibility to shoulder that burden. You get to choose whether or not to share your story, whether to share it publicly, and why, and what you need to feel supported and comfortable.

I will be at the square at 3 p.m. on Saturday (and will try to make it to other future protests). Spot me with my lawn chairs and whiteboard. I’ve got kleenex and Cuties. Come alone or come with a friend.

You can also email [email protected] (voice memos welcome!), or record a voicemail at 608-466-6205. You are welcome to include your name or to share anonymously. 

Your story will be published in your words online at tonemadison.com.

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A large dry erase board is propped against a fence post in front of the Capitol. It reads "Share your story about abortion, miscarriage, birth control, reproductive justice… These oral histories will be shared online at tonemadison.com. Your voice matters." Photo by Oona Mackesey-Green.
A large dry erase board is propped against a fence post in front of the Capitol. It reads “Share your story about abortion, miscarriage, birth control, reproductive justice… These oral histories will be shared online at tonemadison.com. Your voice matters.” Photo by Oona Mackesey-Green.

Donate to abortion funds

If you have the means, help other people access care. 

Donate

Freedom Fund (Marshfield)

Options Fund (Eau Claire)

Women’s Medical Fund 

Midwest Access Coalition 

Info on obtaining abortions in Wisconsin

Pregnancy Options Wisconsin

If you need help funding an abortion

Midwest Access Coalition

Avoiding fake abortion clinics, aka “crisis pregnancy centers”

Obtaining abortions in neighboring states

Our Justice Assistance Fund & Lodging Help (Minnesota or Iowa)

Abortion clinics in Minnesota

Planned Parenthood Abortion Services in Illinois

The Chicago Abortion Fund

Northern Michigan Reproductive Access Fund

Planned Parenthood Abortion Services in Michigan

A returning crowd of protestors marches up State Street toward the Capitol Building under the streetlights. Photo by Oona Mackesey-Green.
A returning crowd of protestors marches up State Street toward the Capitol Building under the streetlights. Photo by Oona Mackesey-Green.

This is our newsletter-first column, Microtones. It runs on the site on Fridays, but you can get it in your inbox on Thursdays by signing up for our email newsletter.

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