Wisconsin lawmakers spend less than one minute in abortion special session

Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, gaveled the Senate out in just under 10 seconds

Updated: June 22, 2022 - 4:08pm

It took Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin only seconds to gavel in and gavel out of their special session on abortion.

Republicans quickly called the Senate and Assembly to order Wednesday to fulfill Gov. Tony Evers’ order that they meet to talk about making abortion legal in the state. And just as quickly, they adjourned.

While the governor can order a special session, he cannot force lawmakers to debate or vote. And that’s exactly what happened.

Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, hit the gavel to end the Senate session in just under 10 seconds.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to issue their opinion yet the Governor called a Special Session. This is nothing more than a calculated campaign move & the exact reason why the Legislature isn’t in session during campaign season. He’s not fooling anyone with this political stunt,” Kapenga said on Twitter.

It took Assembly Republicans less than half a minute to end the special session.

Democrats, as expected, heaped criticism upon Republicans for not taking a vote.

“Time and time again, the people of Wisconsin have asked Republican legislators to do what they are elected to do – to take action on pressing issues facing our state, to do the right thing, and to help the people we are elected to serve. Today, they once again failed to muster the courage to perform that simple duty,” Evers said in a statement.

Kapenga hit back.

“The Governor announced this Special Session in Milwaukee two weeks ago. If only the Governor could have mustered up some leadership to address the increased crime plaguing our cities. He needs to do better for the people of Wisconsin who are concerned about the safety of their loved ones,” Kapenga added.

Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, was one of several Democrats who tried to extend the special session with questions or motions.

“Senate President Kapenga made only a brief cameo to gavel the session in and back out again within seconds, ignoring Democrats' objections and questions, and without so much as even saying hello,” Carpenter said. “The fate of fundamental rights should not be determined so passively and carelessly.”

Wisconsin is one of more than two dozen states where abortion will become illegal if Roe v. Wade is struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. That could happen as early as next week.

Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin is preparing to close its clinics. The group isn’t scheduling abortions past the end of this week.

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