Alison Page, Danielle Johnson, Sarah Yacoub, Patty Schachtner
(Clockwise from top center) Allison Page, Sarah Yacoub, Danielle Johnson, and Patty Schachtner speak with Pat Kreitlow on the UpNorthNews radio show on Aug. 24, 2002.

The US Supreme Court ruling that rolled back abortion rights has been a catalyst for women to become candidates, volunteers, donors, and newly-registered voters.

Data that shows Wisconsin women far outpacing men as newly-registered voters comes as no surprise to Rep. Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire), who saw a definitive increase in action from potential legislative candidates after the US Supreme Court’s June decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which repealed a Constituional right to abortion health care enshrined for nearly a half-century in Roe v. Wade.

“When Dobbs came down, that really lit a fire under a lot of people,” Emerson said on the UpNorthNews radio show on Wednesday. 

Women have been especially motivated to get involved, according to Emerson. The Dobbs ruling could have an impact on elections across Wisconsin, where Democrats are fielding candidates in 79 state Assembly districts—46 of them women.

Emerson appeared on the UpNorthNews morning radio show with four of those women—all from across western Wisconsin—who are running for Assembly seats this November. Much of that territory is considered to be in or near the suburban Twin Cities area—a region once considered reliably Republican. But as the party fell under the control of former President Donald Trump, the GOP lost some of its suburban grip.

“As we see in the suburbs of Milwaukee,” Emerson said, “it’s these social issues that are having these suburbs tend towards blue. They might be fiscally conservative, but socially liberal. And it’s really interesting to see the dynamics that are happening in those areas.”

Candidates Alison Page (93rd District), Sarah Yacoub (30th District), Danielle Johnson (29th District), and former state Sen. Patty Schachtner (28th District) all pointed to extra interest and activity by women and their allies over the issue of government control over their bodies. But they also know voters want to hear about issues that affect their families on a daily basis—affordable day care, health care, housing, and more. 

Page said voters who may lean Republican in their voting are not happy seeing a Legislature take a 10-month paid break to focus on political battles while there are serious issues going unaddressed.

“This is just simply not acceptable to have people elected who are not collaborating to make good things happen for Wisconsin,” Page said. “So a priority of mine would be to go to Madison and infuse the professionalism and the grace and the decorum that we should expect of all our elected officials, and be a model for that and try to transform that culture.”

Wisconsin ranked third in the nation in a recent examination of gender gaps in new voter registration following the Dobbs ruling. Only Kansas and Idaho have a higher proportion of women becoming new voters compared to men.

“UpNorthNews with Pat Kreitlow” airs weekdays from 8-11 a.m. on WXCO Radio in Wausau, available via their Facebook and Twitter pages and the TuneIn app. Each hour is available later as a podcast from Apple and Spotify.