Dane Co. DA pledges not to prosecute 1849 abortion law

Dane Co. District Attorney Ismael Ozanne
Dane Co. District Attorney Ismael Ozanne(NBC15)
Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 2:53 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The man tasked with charging individuals accused of crimes in Dane Co. indicated Friday that he would not enforce Wisconsin’s pre-Civil War abortion law that effectively banned the procedure from conception through birth.

“I have every intention of utilizing the power Dane County voters entrusted in me and will use my discretion to prosecute only those crimes that keep our community safe and represent our collective values,” District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said.

His words were echoed earlier by Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and the city’s Common Council, the latter having passed a resolution - expecting this decision to come - that declares the city has other priorities when it comes to crime and will not be prioritizes investigations related to abortion. Rhodes-Conway added that her office will back the Madison Police Dept. if it does not arrest people for violating the law.

The district attorney described the 1849 law - which banned performing an abortion from conception through birth, except to protect the life of the mother - one of multiple “archaic laws on the books that represent values of days past.”

Ozanne defended his position early in his statement by explaining that his office “works tirelessly fighting for women whose bodies and privacy have been violated,” and concluded it with a message saying that is the position he will stand behind at the ballot box.

“If the voters want a district attorney who prosecutes women for seeking an abortion or licensed providers who are acting in the best interest of their patients, they will need to elect someone else,” he said.

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