Evers joins 19 Democratic governors calling for expanded abortion access

The Reproductive Freedom Alliance says it will share best practices for expanding and protecting abortion

A protester's sign says "My body, my soul, my life, my choice. Trust women!!"
Protester Jana Goodman chants and holds up a sign during a march for abortion rights on the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, in Madison, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Gov. Tony Evers has joined 19 governors in the newly formed Reproductive Freedom Alliance, a group that pledges to protect and expand abortion access after the legality of abortion was kicked back to the states following the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.

While the group, led by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, is officially nonpartisan, only Democrats have signed on so far. Evers is the only governor representing a state with no abortion access.

Evers has been a vocal supporter of abortion access both before and since Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer, reinstating a statewide abortion ban written in 1849.

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“That’s a right I’ll never stop fighting for as long as I’m governor — not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the will of the people,” he said in a statement. “Reproductive healthcare is healthcare, and I’m proud to join my fellow governors in continuing the fight to restore Roe and reproductive rights for every person in Wisconsin and across the country.”

Evers has previously called for a constitutional amendment to enshrine abortion access in the state, although Republicans in the Legislature have signaled they won’t support that.

Almost all other governors on the list represent safely blue states. Govs. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania and Roy Cooper of North Carolina are among the other swing state executives on the list.

The alliance’s stated goal is to share best practices among governors and their staffs to legally protect abortion access, according to the Associated Press. The network is being funded by two public health-focused nonprofits: the California Wellness Foundation and the Rosenberg Foundation.

Matt Sande, a lobbyist for the statewide anti-abortion group Pro-Life Wisconsin, said he was not surprised that Evers would join the coalition.

“But it’s regrettable,” Sande said. “We believe it’s shameful that the leader of our state is advancing and advocating for ways to kill pre-born children, to allow women to access abortion.”

Sande said his group was working to expand Wisconsin’s abortion ban, and to promote other policies to support mothers and ease the adoption process.

“We would love to work with anybody toward that end, but we know this is a divisive issue,” he said. “And there’s obviously a huge chasm on opinion between the two sides.”