'Women's rights are human rights:' Wisconsin leaders, pro-choice advocates hold abortion access rally ahead of VP Harris visit

'Women's rights are human rights:' Wisconsin leaders, pro-choice advocates hold abortion access rally ahead of VP Harris visit

Ellie Nakamoto-White - WISN

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The battle over abortion rights takes center stage again in Wisconsin and on the campaign trail this week, as Vice President Kamala Harris is set to kick off the "Fight for Reproductive Freedoms" tour on Monday in Waukesha County.

The visit marks her first stop on the nationwide tour, with the campaign targeting the expansion of abortion access before the election in November.

It also represents the vice president's fifth stop in Wisconsin since being sworn in.

On Sunday, Wisconsin leaders and pro-choice advocates held a rally inside of a former abortion clinic in Milwaukee that was forced to close due to the state's restrictive laws.

"Women are not safe in Wisconsin. We are just not safe," said Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D) who shared she herself has had an abortion. "An abortion is medical treatment."

The representative added that she is "a mother, a grandmother of three granddaughters, and a great grandmother of three great granddaughters."

"[They] live in this community, so I’ve got some stake in making sure they remain safe," Moore said. 

Alenna Beroza, a current third-year medical student, said she was training to become a healthcare provider and future OBGYN.

"I attend school and reside in a state where my values, my body, and my healthcare is at risk," Beroza said. “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.”

Others like Jenn Vollstedt, a former labor and delivery nurse of more than a decade, spoke about their personal experiences with abortion access.

“I found myself in 2016 becoming a later pregnancy abortion patient. When I was beginning my second trimester of my first, very wanted, very planned pregnancy, I learned that there might be something very wrong with my baby," Vollstedt said. “After weeks of further testing it turned out that my baby had a chromosomal abnormality. That would mean that if she survived till the end of my pregnancy, she would die within a few hours.”

It also meant that her life would be in danger. 

“I could develop severe high blood pressure; I could also be at risk for a hemorrhage when I delivered my baby," Vollstedt continued, which is why it was an "easy decision" to choose the procedure. 

“I knew I didn’t want my baby to suffer, and I knew that I didn’t want to risk my future fertility or my life," Vollstedt said.

The rally was also held near what would've been the 51st anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and directly before a public hearing in Madison on Monday on a bill from Wisconsin Republicans that proposes banning an abortion after 14 weeks, unless there was a medical emergency or if the mother's life was at risk.

“Every woman is exceptional and has her own life’s course and the only solution for us as congresswomen and congressmen is to mind our own business," Moore said. 

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