On July 10, I took a road trip to northern Wisconsin to share information on the Unborn Child Protection Act (Act 292) and Reproaction’s #WIFights292 campaign. In total, I traveled to three cities: Green Bay, Oshkosh, and Fond du Lac. I organized direct actions at nearly a dozen different locations in order to alert northern Wisconsinites to the impact enforcement of Act 292 has on Wisconsin families. Leaving Reproaction’s informational flyers at strategic locations is an important aspect of the campaign because people living in rural communities are vulnerable to enforcement of Act 292 too.
The Unborn Child Protection Act, otherwise known as Act 292 or the “cocaine mom law” allows Wisconsin to take certain pregnant people into custody, assign a lawyer to the embryo or fetus but no lawyer for the pregnant person including during important early stages of the proceeding, and lock the person up in a drug treatment program, psychiatric hospital, or even jail – regardless of whether drug treatment is really needed. Wisconsin has accused thousands of people of “unborn child abuse” under this law, and a federal court ruled the law unconstitutional; however, the law is still in effect due to the actions of former Governor Scott Walker and former Attorney General Brad Schimel.
My first stop was in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Green Bay had the highest number of cases referred to the state under Act 292 out of the three cities I visited and has a population of more than 105,000 residents. During my time in Green Bay, I distributed approximately 10 to 15 flyers at half a dozen locations. I visited the Green Bay Comprehensive Treatment Center, the Libertas Treatment Center, Bellin Hospital, the HSHS St. Vincent Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital, and the Women, Infant, Children (WIC) east office location. I chose these locations in particular because residents may seek out these locations in order to receive medical care, drug treatment, or even prenatal care. Staff at each location watched as I placed the flyers in visible locations, such as front desks, information tables and coffee tables, but I was not approached or asked to leave by staff members. Patients and clients at each location were interested in the flyers I was leaving, and I saw a few looking intently at the flyers I left. After completing these direct actions, I started my journey to Oshkosh.
Oshkosh is located in Winnebago County, and is home to nearly 67,000 residents; additionally, Winnebago County had one of the highest rates of cases referred to the state for investigation through enforcement of Act 292. During my stop in Oshkosh, I visited and left our informational flyers at four different locations – Solutions Recovery Oshkosh, Aurora Medical Center Oshkosh, Ascension NE Wisconsin Mercy Hospital, and the WIC Office of Winnebago County. I chose to leave flyers at these locations because residents are likely to seek out these providers in order to receive medical treatment. In addition, these locations are frequently visited by local residents and residents in nearby towns due to a lack of medical facilities in rural Wisconsin. In total, I left approximately 10 flyers at each location in visible areas, such as bulletin boards or front desks, and documented each action.
Finally, I traveled to Fond du Lac, and left several flyers at a local hospital. Fond du Lac has approximately 42,000 residents, and there have been several cases referred to the state for investigation under Act 292. I distributed the flyers at St. Agnes Hospital in a highly visible location, so incoming patients would be drawn to it almost immediately. As I left the flyers at a waiting table inside the hospital, I made sure to document my action.
Spreading information to all Wisconsin communities is a core goal of the #WIFights292 campaign, which aims to increase awareness of Act 292. Our campaign also aims to center those most at risk for enforcement of this law. Reproaction believes that all Wisconsinites should have information about potential enforcement of Act 292 when they seek prenatal care, drug treatment, or healthcare services while pregnant. Reproaction will continue to organize actions that educate all Wisconsinites about the effects that Act 292 has on communities until the law is eliminated.