In light of the recent abortion ban in South Dakota, a University of Wisconsin Law School forum looked to the possible implications in Wisconsin.
Members of the panel, sponsored by Law Students for Choice, included representatives from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin and the state Legislature.
Contributing to the panel were Reps. Spencer Black and Mark Pocan, both D-Madison, as well as PPAWI policy analyst Nicole Safar.
The ban, which goes into effect July 1, only exempts pregnant women whose condition will likely lead to death, and Safar said the ban is a "direct slap" in the face of the Constitution.
Major grassroots campaigns in South Dakota are now challenging the law by attempting to put a referendum on the November ballot to overturn the ban.
According to Safar, there are at least half of the 17,000 signatures needed to get the ban on referendum. The signatures must be collected by June 19.
But opponents say they will look toward litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court, where a similar case will be heard this fall. Additionally, the case will decide whether exceptions for the woman's life and health should be added to the federal abortion ban, signed by President Bush in 2000.
"Without Justice [Sandra Day] O'Connor, we are pretty pessimistic that the anti-choice side will win 5-4," Safar said.
Although South Dakota is now in the spotlight, Wisconsin already has stricter abortion laws in the books, according to Wednesday's panel speakers.
"Wisconsin statute has no exception for rape or incest or the health of the mother," Black said.
He added the South Dakota ban has prompted eight other states to introduce new bans challenging the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade. Black noted if Roe v. Wade is overturned, Wisconsin will be one of four states with the strictest abortion laws.
However, a ban similar to the one in South Dakota will not be introduced in Wisconsin, according to Barbara Lyons, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life.
"It would be dangerous to be promoting the ban," she said. "We don't need it because anti-abortion laws already exist."
But Black and Pocan expressed concern, noting Wisconsin's legislation does not accurately represent the public's opinion regarding abortion.
According to Pocan, South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds — who signed the state's abortion ban into law — experienced a 20 percent drop in public rating, reflecting public opposition to criminalizing abortion.
Despite public opposition, Black said pro-life movements are becoming more aggressive in their efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade.
"This is waking up the vast majority of the public that Roe v. Wade is not to be taken for granted and it is very much in danger," he said.
Pocan said recent legislation in Wisconsin, including measures promoting abstinence-only education and attempting to deny emergency contraception on campus, represent a dangerous trend of taking away reproductive rights.
Despite the dangerous trend, Pocan said voter education and mobilization efforts can bring about change.
"Anti-choice forces have been extremely strong and very single-minded," Black added. "It is very important for people who believe in reproductive rights, and who don't like what is happening, to be politically active."
With the future of Roe v. Wade in question, both sides are mobilizing to rally their bases and reform abortion laws in Wisconsin.