Why Hundreds of Wisconsin Doctors Are Asking You to Vote in Next Week’s Supreme Court Race

Docs SCOWIS Letter

(Image via Shutterstock)

By Pat Kreitlow

March 29, 2023

Government interference in the doctor-patient relationship “has got to change,” say physicians who support Judge Janet Protasiewicz because of Dan Kelly’s support from groups hostile to women’s healthcare rights.

More than 300 Wisconsin physicians and healthcare professionals announced their joint endorsement of Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz in next week’s state Supreme Court election—another example of how people who hadn’t been politically involved previously were spurred to action by right-wing moves like the elimination of a national right to abortion care for women.

“This is an issue that affects the entire house of medicine,” said Dr. Kristin Lyerly, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Green Bay. “This isn’t just the Ob-Gyns who are worried about it, but it’s the emergency medicine docs, family medicine docs, residents, medical students, people who have dedicated our lives to take care of our patients. We recognize that this is interference in the doctor-patient relationship, and that means that we can’t take the best possible care of our patients and in some cases we can’t take care of our patients at all.” 

The physicians’ endorsement was published as a full-page ad in Tuesday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and touted at an online news conference organized by the Committee to Protect Health Care. 

“As [conservative former Justice] Daniel Kelly tries to downplay his extremist views against abortion, medical professionals are raising the alarm and bringing awareness to the consequences of this election for Wisconsin women,” Dr. Madelaine Tully, a family physician in Milwaukee County, said in the press event. “Mr. Kelly has been endorsed by multiple anti-abortion organizations, including one which supports banning abortion with no exceptions even for the woman’s life. Mr. Kelly’s track record goes against medical principles and the beliefs of most Wisconsinites.”

“Doctors are typically not political,” Lyerly said Wednesday morning on UpNorthNews Radio. “But we came together from across the state, across specialties, to put our foot down and say this has got to change.”

“With this [newspaper] advertisement and our advocacy, medical professionals want to make loud and clear that Wisconsinites should stand up for reproductive freedom and health by electing Judge Janet Protasiewicz,” said Dr. Jill Cousino, an OB/GYN in southern Wisconsin and member of the Committee to Protect Health Care (CTP). “With an election likely to have enormous consequences for abortion access, medical professionals are speaking out in support of our patients and all Wisconsin women. Like Judge Protasiewicz, we believe in a woman’s freedom to make her own decisions around her body and her health care, and the majority of Wisconsinites who agree should keep this in mind when voting next Tuesday.”

The physicians noted they are speaking out in their own capacity and not on behalf of any of their employers.

Protasiewicz has repeatedly said she is “100 percent certain” that if Kelly is elected, the state’s 1849 abortion ban will stay on the books. Kelly has been endorsed by Wisconsin Right to Life, Pro-Life Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Family Action. 

Last week, Kelly appeared at a St. Croix County event that featured Brookfield pastor Matthew Trewhella, who has compared COVID-19 safeguards to the Holocaust and predicted violence would be the result of government mandates. A story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the event mentions a 1994 Newsweek report that said Trewhella was one of six anti-abortion activists “under investigation as possible conspirators in a campaign of violence against abortion clinics” and that “Trewhella signed a statement declaring that … if an abortion provider was murdered by an anti-abortion activist, the assailant’s legal force was ‘justified.’”

Tuesday’s election is to fill a seat opening with the retirement of conservative Justice Pat Roggensack. A Kelly victory will allow conservatives to maintain a 4-3 majority while a Protasiewicz win would give progressives control of the court for the first time in 15 years.


  • Pat Kreitlow

    The Founding Editor of UpNorthNews, Pat was a familiar presence on radio and TV stations in western Wisconsin before serving in the state Legislature. After a brief stint living in the Caribbean, Pat and wife returned to Chippewa Falls to be closer to their growing group of grandchildren. He now serves as UNN's chief political correspondent and host of UpNorthNews Radio, airing weekday mornings 6 a.m.-8 a.m on the Civic Media radio network and the UpNorthNews Facebook page.

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