“My abortion story is a story about choice”: UWL hosts abortion rally ahead of 2023 Supreme Court election


Attendees of “Rally for Our Rights” event. Photo taken by Isabel Piarulli.

Isabel Piarulli, Multimedia Editor

Wisconsin is less than a week away from the 2023 spring general election. On April 4, voters will choose between candidates Daniel Kelly, a conservative, and Janet C. Protasiewicz, a liberal, for the open seat in Wisconsin’s Supreme Court.

The next court is likely to decide the future of abortion rights. Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Wisconsin reverted to an 1849 state law banning abortions. A referendum to repeal or keep the 1849 ban will be on the April 4 ballots.

Women Win Wisconsin began a statewide tour on March 11 to rally for abortion rights. The tour titled, “Rally for Our Rights” visited La Crosse on March 26 on their fourth stop across Wisconsin.

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse hosted the rally in the Student Union. In attendance were several dozen individuals ranging in race, age and gender holding up signs proclaiming their Pro-Choice stance. Sponsors of the event including Planned Parenthood also attended.

“I know that the Supreme Court can be involved in overturning this 1849 abortion ban where there are no expectations. Not even for rape or incest,” said Wisconsin Secretary of State Sarah Godlewski.

Ester Crotser, a 17-year-old of Viroqua County, and 18-year-old Zirelia Leinberger spoke on their successful efforts to get the 1849 abortion ban adversity referendum on the ballot in Viroqua County. “As a young woman I will not be quiet, I will not be silent,” said Crotser. “I am proof that this generation can and will make a change.”

Jill Billings, a Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Assembly who represents the 95th district which includes the City of La Crosse, attended the rally. “Elected officials like me have no place in the examining room,” she said.

“My abortion story is a story about choice,” said La Crosse County Board Supervisor Tara Johnson. “Over 40 years ago, in 1982, right here in Wisconsin I had the right to choose to end an unplanned pregnancy.”

Samantha Crowley is a future obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN). She is currently a second-year medical student at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. She explained the training to provide comprehensive abortion care is not currently available in Wisconsin.

“I want to train in a place that will give me the knowledge and skills that I came to medical school to get and also in a place that will protect me as a future physician,” said Crowley. “This ban [the 1849 abortion ban] is going to lead many doctors away into places where they are not going to be forced to be prosecuted or at the risk of being prosecuted for practicing evidence-based medical care.”

Director for Equity and Affirmative Action and Youth Safety programs within the Diversity and Inclusion leadership team at UWL Antoiwana Williams shared her perspective at the rally. “Our vote was and continues to be a crucial tool for changing oppressive laws,” said Williams. “We want to control the narrative. We want to show up and show out for healthcare accessibility. My body, my choice.”

On Tuesday, April 4, Wisconsin will hold its general election. UWL students can register to vote with their Eagle IDs and on-campus students can vote in the Bluffs room of the Student Union. Information on voting location, what is on your ballot and more can be found here.