Scott Walker doesn’t care about women

Scott Walker, college dropout and Republican candidate for president, has steadily eroded abortion rights in Wisconsin since ascending to the governor’s office in 2010. In 2011, he approved a state budget that defunded Planned Parenthood. In 2013, he signed a bill that would require doctors to show women seeking abortions an ultrasound picture of the fetus, a measure he recently defended by referring to ultrasounds as “just a cool thing that’s out there.” Also in 2013, he signed off on legislation that required abortion providers to seek admitting privileges at nearby hospitals — a law that was later struck down in court.

But now, with 2016 approaching and a wider socially conservative base to pander to, Walker is poised to sign what is arguably the most extreme anti-abortion legislation in Wisconsin to date. According to the Huffington Post:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said this week that he would sign a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy that does not contain exceptions for rape and incest victims, if the bill reaches his desk. The measure also contains a less-discussed provision that would allow the father to sue the doctor for “emotional and psychological distress” if he disagrees with the abortion, regardless of his relationship with the woman having the procedure.

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 237 would ban abortions after 20 weeks “postfertilization,” which doctors would measure as 22 weeks of pregnancy since pregnancies are usually measured from the woman’s last menstrual period. If the bill becomes law, doctors who perform an abortion after this time could be charged with a felony and fined up to $10,000, or face up to three and a half years in prison.

Anyone who has thought critically about reproductive rights knows that anti-abortion advocates’ appeals to protecting a “culture of life” have nothing to do with life and everything to do with puritanical repression of the female gender. This bill, coupled with the parental consent law Wisconsin currently has in place, is about as clear a confirmation as you’ll get.

Perhaps the most insulting aspect of Walker’s legislation is the fact that it acknowledges and legitimates the so-called “emotional and psychological distress” of fathers while turning a blind eye to the much more real, immediate distress of women who choose to seek an abortion in an overwhelmingly hostile climate, who are constantly subjected to verbal harassment, invasive interventions of the state and other types of unwarranted pressure, both public and private. But of course, to hear Wisconsin Republicans tell it, we wouldn’t want any legal protections in place for women seeking abortions. They might get it in their heads that Scott Walker and his anti-abortion ilk actually care about them. Perish the thought.

And of course, Walker has no problem mansplaining the psychology and decision theory behind not including a rape or incest exception for his 20-week ban. The governor was quoted by TalkingPointsMemo as saying: “I mean, I think for most people who are concerned about that, it’s in the initial months where they’re most concerned about it.”

And then the concern wears off and that biologically-programmed maternal joy kicks in. So while unplanned and unwanted pregnancies cause deep mental anguish for fathers, they’re easy decisions one way or another for mothers. If you haven’t made up your mind by 20 weeks, Scott Walker’s pretty sure you want that baby.

This whole thing would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. The recent barrage of restrictions has left Wisconsin with only four clinics that offer abortions, and 95% of all Wisconsin residents live in a county without such a clinic. Meanwhile, though Walker has yet to formally announce his candidacy for the 2016 presidential race, polls show he’s gaining ground among conservatives, and may even have a strong shot at being the nominee. One can only hope that this most recent piece of legislation and Walker’s eagerness to sign it expose the governor for what he truly is: an anti-abortion extremist.

Jonah Allon is a senior at Tufts University from New York City. He has worked for the New York League of Conservation Voters and was a volunteer on President Obama's 2012 campaign. He primarily writes on the environment, reproductive rights and public policy.

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