Mike Gallagher needs to end silence on national abortion ban | Opinion

Our ability to make informed electoral decisions hinges on having clear, honest information from our representative about his stance on pivotal issues like abortion rights

Julie Hancock
Special to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In the wake of the Supreme Court's momentous decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the issue of abortion rights has surged to the forefront of American political discourse. With this seismic shift, the spotlight turns to our elected representatives, including Congressman Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin's 8th District. As constituents, we find ourselves at a crossroads, seeking clear guidance on where our representative stands on one of the most contentious issues of our time – a potential national abortion ban.  

While it is crystal clear where Gallagher stands on the Satanic Temple’s festival tree at the National Railroad Museum, he remains publicly silent on abortion.  His legislative record, however, speaks volumes.

In a statement following the overturning of Roe, Gallagher said, “The power to make abortion law should have always rested with elected officials” and the decision ”correctly returns this authority to legislatures and gives the American people a direct say in the way abortion is governed in their state.”

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In a constituent letter dated September 29, 2023, in response to concerns about maternal health, Gallagher stated, “I understand the importance of ensuring all mothers . . . receive the highest quality care before, while, and after they give birth. Losing just one mother to a pregnancy-related death is one too many.” This is a stark contrast to his silence on the many cases of maternal health causing women to lose the ability to have children or receive critical medical care before developing sepsis because they did not have access to the reproductive healthcare their lives depended on as a direct result of state-level abortion bans.

Is this willful ignorance — choosing to ignore the fact that abortion restrictions impact maternal health?

Gallagher supports government making reproductive choices

Despite these public statements, in January Gallagher voted in favor of two bills in the House, The Pregnant Students’ Rights Act and the Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Women and Families Act, both with misleading titles that, in reality, force reproductive choices onto women at the hands of the government. Gallagher also cosponsored H.R. 1011, Life at Conception Act, in 2021.  His record on Capitol Hill contains plenty of examples.

The looming prospect of a national abortion ban — taking the laws out of the hands of the state — is not mere conjecture. It's a policy move that could fundamentally alter the fabric of reproductive rights in America. Members of the House, Senators, including Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, and Republican presidential candidates have voiced support for such an outcome. 

With his legislative record as a key indicator, there is no question Gallagher would support a national abortion ban if it comes up for a vote. 

Gallagher's constituents need to understand directly from him where he stands on such a ban. Will he support a policy that could override state decisions? How does he plan to navigate the complex interplay between federal authority and individual states' rights in this context?  Constituents also deserve to know his position on access to birth control, mifepristone, and other key policies that impact women’s ability to make healthcare choices without government interference.  

In the diverse and opinion-rich landscape of Northeast Wisconsin, where views on abortion range from support for a total ban to advocacy for complete reproductive freedom, the clear articulation of Gallagher's position is not just crucial; it's a fundamental duty to the democratic process. 

We deserve to know position on national abortion ban

As we approach the November election, Gallagher’s silence on the matter will not stand, nor will his PR spin — not this election year. Transparency, particularly on a national abortion ban, becomes imperative. Our ability to make informed electoral decisions hinges on having clear, honest information from our representative about his stance on pivotal issues like abortion rights. This election year, we demand and deserve nothing less than complete clarity.

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It's time for Gallagher to state his position on a national abortion ban unequivocally. The voters of the 8th Congressional District deserve to know your views on this pivotal issue. If you genuinely believe the Dobbs case “gives the American people a direct say in the way abortion is governed in their state, we have a say in who represents us in Congress. That say rests on whether we trust our representatives to uphold their promises or whether they push their personal beliefs onto constituents regardless of what the majority supports.

Julie Hancock is a Green Bay immigration attorney and advocate for reproductive rights. She was a write-in candidate in 2022 for the House in the 8th District running as a Democrat.