The Dane County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance Thursday prohibiting the county from signing contracts with businesses investigating, arresting and/or prosecuting violators of Wisconsin’s abortion ban. Now, residents are left wondering how the ordinance will affect the county.
The ordinance prohibits the county from signing contracts with agencies that are responsible for funding investigations or prosecutions and penalizating violators of the ban.
The ordinance aims to prevent local agencies from investigating and prosecuting violators of the abortion ban to keep their business relations with Dane County, aiming to help agencies and those seeking or performing abortions.
The current state abortion ban only offers exceptions for abortions deemed medically necessary and does not account for cases of rape or incest. Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban can only be upheld through local law enforcement.
District 2 Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner, the primary creator and sponsor of the ordinance, said the county does not want to be in business with or fund organizations actively prosecuting the abortion ban. Wegleitner hopes other local governments will follow Dane County’s lead and create similar ordinances.
“This is really a dangerous attack on human rights and a dangerous situation with the state of the law in Wisconsin right now,” Wegleitner told the Capital Times.
More is being done outside the ordinance to combat those supporting the abortion ban. According to the Capital Times, officials from Madison and other Dane County police departments said they would not arrest those seeking or providing abortions.
Officials worry the ordinance may complicate the county’s finances, according to the Capital Times. With the midterm election coming up this November, many state and local leadership positions are available for reelection, including the governor, attorney general and county sheriff.
The upcoming election may open the door for more conservative leaders to be elected who may choose to investigate and prosecute abortion violators.
Public Health Madison & Dane County and the Dane County Sheriff’s Office both rely on state grant funding. If conservatives are elected to fill these positions, state grant funding could potentially be restricted, according to the Capital Times.
County controller Charles Hicklin explained how right now, the ordinance does not ban the county from contracting with the state, which means the grant funds are still available.
“We essentially rely upon [that agency] for most of our budget,” Hicklin said. “If we couldn’t contract with them, that would be a problem.”
Meghan Spirito is the current Co-Photo Desk Editor of the Daily Cardinal.