Evers Rally
Gov. Tony Evers addresses a rally at the La Crosse Center prior to the start of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin state convention on June 25, 2022. (Photo by Pat Kreitlow)

Governor says Roe repeal made his seven female grandchildren second-class citizens. “That’s bullshit,” he tells convention delegates.

Wielding a big stick from the bully pulpit, Gov. Tony Evers promised Saturday to offer clemency to doctors prosecuted because of the US Supreme Court’s repeal of Roe v. Wade abortion protections—a ruling he criticized with a barnyard epithet while addressing delegates at the state Democratic convention.

Speaking to a crowded rally in the lobby of the La Crosse Center prior to the official start of the convention, Evers’ voice cracked when he talked about the impact of the ruling by the court’s right-wing justices on his family.

“I have seven grandkids that are girls and young women. Yesterday, they were made second-class citizens.”

“That’s bullshit,” he said pointedly, as the delegates erupted in cheers.

Wisconsin now has an abortion ban in place that was first written into law a year after statehood—decades before women could vote and more than a century before Roe nullified the ban for nearly 50 years.

“The 1849 law says that anybody providing an abortion is subject to a felony—one to six years,” said Evers. “Did you ever think about the word clemency? I will provide clemency to any physician that is charged under that law.”

In most political conventions, the marquee candidates and elected officials give speeches at the end of the evening. The rally allowed the top Democrats in Wisconsin to stand together and speak together at its opening as well. 

Attorney General Josh Kaul repeated his position that the 1849 ban is a non-starter for the state Department of Justice.

“My top priority is public safety, so let me be very clear about this,” Kaul said. “It does not serve the health or the safety of Wisconsinites to enforce a 19th century abortion ban, and we are not going to do it while I’m attorney general.”

Turning to the Republican-controlled Legislature, Kaul said there’s an old adage about politicians that says if you can’t change their minds, change their faces.

 “Yesterday was a dark day. Today, we start to fight back,” Kaul said.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin said the November election must be treated as if Roe v. Wade itself is on the ballot. She then alluded to Republican Ron Johnson also being on the ballot.

“Please send me a Democratic partner in the US Senate!”