Here & Now Highlights: US Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Ann Jacobs, Dr. Christopher Ford

Here's what guests on the July 29, 2022 episode said about efforts to enshrine same-sex marriage, election fraud activists who admitted to committing election fraud, and how ER doctors are preparing for more complications among pregnant patients as abortion access decreases.

By Frederica Freyberg, Kristian Knutsen | Here & Now

August 1, 2022

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A split screen shows Frederica Freyberg and Tammy Baldwin in different locations.

Frederica Freyberg and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Credit: PBS Wisconsin)

Wisconsin’s Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is a sponsor of the “Respect for Marriage Act,” which would enshrine same-sex marriage into federal law and is working to get 10 GOP senators to vote in favor of the legislation to head off a filibuster. Wisconsin Elections Commission member Ann Jacobs responds to news that two people admitted to applying for absentee ballots by using other people’s identifying information in the state’s online request system in an effort to highlight what they describe as security vulnerabilities. Dr. Christopher Ford, who works as an emergency room physician in Milwaukee, describes what bans on most abortions in Wisconsin and other states will mean for pregnant patients


U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
(D) Wisconsin

  • In the span of a week, three contenders in Wisconsin’s Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate dropped out of the race, clearing the field for candidate Mandela Barnes. Sen. Baldwin had not yet formally endorsed, but spoke to her timing on publicly backing Barnes as Tom Nelson, Alex Lasry and Sarah Godlewski have done on their way out of the race.
  • Baldwin: “I will be talking with the remaining candidates — and certainly, as I’ve always said, I am going to be behind the nominee. It appears that will be Mandela Barnes and I’m very excited about the race ahead … I think it’s a strong candidacy. He is certainly running a very good race and getting all around the state and talking to the Wisconsin voters, but the contrast in the general election could not be more clear.”
  • Baldwin is trying to gain the votes of 10 Republican senators on her “Respect for Marriage Act,” which would enshrine same-sex marriage in federal law. A May 2021 national poll by Gallup found 70% of American adults support same-sex marriage, including 55% of Republicans. Baldwin explained why she sponsored and is urging passage of the legislation now.
  • Baldwin: “In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade, it has implicated a number of other cases that the court has decided on similar grounds. Whether that’s access to contraception or same-sex marriage or interracial marriage, all were based in part on a constitutional right to privacy, which the majority says does not exist. And so people need certainty. This is a time of great fear and anxiety about whether a same-sex couple’s marriage license will be valid, and the rights and responsibilities associated with marriage are critically important to protect one’s family. So the Respect for Marriage Act would codify the Obergefell decision, and people can rest assured that their marriage certificate is valid.”


Ann Jacobs
Commissioner, Wisconsin Elections Commission

  • Two people in Wisconsin admitted they broke state election law by requesting absentee ballots from My Vote Wisconsin to show what they think are vulnerabilities in the system. The two typed in identifying information of voters, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, to have ballots delivered to a different address. The requesters involved espouse false claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential vote. Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said these two individuals contacted his office. In response, Schmaling demanded the Wisconsin Elections Commission disable sections of the website. The Commission stated the website is not vulnerable and anyone who falsely gets an absentee ballot is guilty of a crime. Every voter transaction is recorded in a database, the agency noted in its statement on the matter. The commissioners held an emergency meeting on July 28 to address the situation, including its former chair Jacobs, one of three Democratic appointees to the six-member group.
  • Jacobs: “I am astonished at the fact that people are going out and intentionally committing election crimes and then pretending that they’re doing it to somehow prove fraud in an election. What they did [is they] broke the law, and they should be prosecuted. What we want are for people to stop doing this, and we think law enforcement should stop encouraging it. What we did indicate was that we would send postcards to people who have had their absentee ballots sent to an address other than their home address, their home registration address, just to be sure that there wasn’t this sort of monkey business going around elsewhere. We also did notify clerks that they are obligated to refer cases of fraud, which would include cases like what we’re discussing to their local district attorney if they find it. And what we’re doing is encouraging people to use the ‘My Vote’ website to check their own absentee ballot status.”


Dr. Christopher Ford
Emergency physician

  • Working in an ER in Milwaukee and a fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians, Dr. Ford detailed an anticipated surge in pregnant patients needing life-saving care and how doctors’ decisions are being affected by the Dobbs vs. Jackson decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that ended a federal right to abortion. Issues include how patients with ectopic pregnancies will allowed to be treated under Wisconsin’s abortion ban, as well as complications with miscarriages and the treatment of conditions with medications and procedures that might result in ending a pregnancy. Another concern relates to an expected increase in patients who have received unsafe abortions.
  • Ford: “What we worry about in emergency medicine — and of course, we’re about a month out from the decision — but what we worry about at this point in time is are we going to start to see that number creep up for women that are seeking care from people who aren’t licensed professionals and may have bad outcomes related to an unsafe abortion. Now, with that being said, we see a stark difference in the complications from safe abortions versus unsafe. So if you think about complications in the form of bleeding, infections — these are less than 1% mortality. Death is less than 1% in safe abortions. However, if you look at the unsafe abortions, we’re seeing numbers up to 4.5-13% for mortality alone. About a third of those patients will have adverse outcomes or have some complication. And so this is something that not only are we planning for and kind of keeps us awake at night, but it’s something that we have to continue to expect in our emergency departments coming soon.”


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