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US Governor promises clemency for doctors who perform abortions

Corporate America joins growing backlash against court decision

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An activist kneels on the street in front of Los Angeles Police Department officers as demonstrators protested the US Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade in Los Angeles. Photo: Keith Birmingham/AP

An activist kneels on the street in front of Los Angeles Police Department officers as demonstrators protested the US Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade in Los Angeles. Photo: Keith Birmingham/AP

An activist kneels on the street in front of Los Angeles Police Department officers as demonstrators protested the US Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade in Los Angeles. Photo: Keith Birmingham/AP

Wisconsin’s Democratic governor has pledged to grant clemency to doctors prosecuted for performing abortions, as the party seeks ways to defy stringent new restrictions in red states.

Elected officials in more than 10 US states where abortion is now banned, or is expected to be shortly, have committed to not prosecute people seeking or providing abortions.

It comes as more of corporate America joined the backlash against the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn nationwide abortion rights by offering funding to staff who need to travel out of state to access legal abortions.

Wisconsin’s governor, Tony Evers, declared he “will provide clemency to any physician that is charged” after the state’s abortion clinics halted services amid fear of prosecution.

The move seeks to circumvent a Wisconsin law that makes performing an abortion punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The 1849 law has been revived by the US Supreme Court’s decision to leave the issue of abortion rights up to individual states, at least 22 of which have swiftly moved to ban the procedure.

“I don’t think a law that was written before the Civil War, or before women secured the right to vote, should be used to dictate these intimate decisions on reproductive health,” Mr Evers told the Wisconsin Democratic Party convention.

He added: “I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that all people have abortion access and reproductive freedom in Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin’s abortion clinics have defiantly remained open in the wake of the state ban to help ferry women to neighbouring Illinois or Minnesota, where abortions remain legal.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin said it cancelled around 70 procedures at the weekend, but said its staff would remain in place to offer alternative treatment options for patients.

Affiliated Medical Services (AMS), which also provides abortions in Milwaukee, said it would stop providing abortions and instead “provide resources for out-of-state abortion clinics”.

In response, pro-life activists gathered outside the clinic over the weekend. Jason Murphy, a 22-year-old painter and decorator, said they have seen some success since the Supreme Court ruling. Where typically there would be a dozen or more patients arriving at the AMS clinic on a given day, he said he had spotted just four or five that day.

“I don’t see the Supreme Court ruling as a final victory for the pro-life movement,” he said.

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Indicating the clinic in front of him, he added: “This place is still open, referring parents who are seeking to murder their child to drive a few more hours to other states like Illinois.”

Much of corporate America has joined the effort to circumvent state bans, with companies including Airbnb, JP Morgan, Tesla and Netflix offering to cover travel expenses for employees seeking out-of-state abortions.

Democratic states are bracing for a potential influx of out-of-state patients. One clinic in Illinois has opened just miles from the Wisconsin border, in anticipation of the state’s ban.

Mary Jane Maharry, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said: “We do have enough staff to meet the needs today and we are working at increasing our staff to meet the anticipated surge of 20,000 to 30,000 additional out-of-state patients per year.”

Meanwhile, more than 80 elected prosecutors have signed an open letter declining to use their offices to pursue people seeking or performing abortions.

Elsewhere, French MPs plan to introduce a bill that would enshrine “the respect for abortion” into the country’s constitution, following Friday’s ruling by the US Supreme Court overturning the federal right to abortion.

Aurore Berge, the head of President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance parliament group, said the US ruling was “catastrophic for women”.

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


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