More than 1,300 Vernon County residents signed a petition requesting that the Vernon County Board place a referendum on the ballot. The referendum asks, “Should the Wisconsin legislature repeal the state’s 1849 abortion ban that provides no exceptions in cases of rape or incest, nor to protect the health of the mother.” The petition satisfied the county’s ordinance regarding referendums, and now the county board must decide whether to place the referendum on the ballot in April 2023 or November 2024.

The petition was organized by a large, nonpartisan group of county residents with varying opinions on the issue of reproductive rights. They are unified, however, in their belief that we, the citizens of Vernon County, deserve to have our voices heard on this important matter. 1849 was 173 years ago. Wisconsin had been a state for just one year. Most importantly, women did not have the right to vote when the ban was passed. Therefore, it is long past time that the people’s voices be heard.

This referendum is advisory; it does not change the law or the Constitution. What it does is give voters a chance make their opinions known — it gives us a choice. Because the petition satisfied the county ordinance, the referendum will go on the ballot. The county board simply needs to decide when. If you believe, like I do, that we the people deserve a voice, contact your county board supervisor and ask that they place the referendum on the ballot this April.