This was the scene in Madison, Wisconsin in early 2011.
Thousands of protesters fighting to stop a bill that would eliminate the public employees’ unions’ right to negotiate health care and pensions and everything else except wages. Part of the outrage was just shock.
The new governor had not campaigned on gutting public sector unions. According to Politifact Wisconsin, he never even hinted at it once in months of campaigning.
This is a man who can hide his true feelings until it’s too late.
And he is reportedly considering a run for President.
That’s why my letter of the week is to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
Dear Governor Walker,
It’s me. Melissa.
Now, before you run for President, you probably need to get re-elected as Governor next month.
And I know that your opponent, Mary Burke, has you up against the ropes.
So I want to talk to you about your new campaign ad:
“I’m pro-life. But there’s no doubt in my mind the decision of whether or not to end a pregnancy is an agonizing one. That’s why I support legislation to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options. The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor. Now, reasonable people can disagree on this issue. Our priority is to protect the health and safety of all Wisconsin citizens.”
Well that sounds just so gosh darn reasonable! You reasonably believe that the choice to terminate a pregnancy should be between a woman and her doctor and nobody else!
There’s a problem with all this reasonableness though: You. And what you really think. You, governor, don’t want the choice to be between a woman and her doctor. You oppose abortion. All of it.
You are on the record as being quote “100 percent pro-life”. That’s not a throwaway line. That’s a designation from the anti-abortion group Pro-Life Wisconsin.
And it’s hard to win Pro-Life Wisconsin’s political endorsement.
You had to say you believe in no abortions, under any circumstances – not early in a pregnancy, not late in a pregnancy, not for rape or incest, not to protect the health or even the life of the pregnant woman, not for financial reasons, not because the woman thinks it’s in her own best interest to terminate.
As a state representative in 1999, you wrote a bill that would outlaw the University of Wisconsin Madison medical school from *teaching medical students* how to perform abortions.
You wrote another bill in 2001 that would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions that conflict with their beliefs. So even if a “woman and her doctor” had decided emergency contraception was the right call, a pharmacist could deny her that care.
You are so pro-life that you used to oppose the death penalty – until that became politically untenable.
And then there’s the law you signed just last year – the one you are defending in that new TV ad – that would require doctors performing termination services to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.
Governor, it is difficult bordering on impossible to obtain those privileges because abortion is so safe already that doctors performing them don’t bring in enough patients to a hospital to warrant admitting privileges.
This law is being challenged in the courts – but if allowed to go into effect, it would close down at least one of your state’s four abortion clinics. It would greatly reduce the number of abortions performed at another.
It would severely restrict women’s access to legal reproductive care.
And you hide this behind the seemingly good intention of protecting women.
You want to make abortion safer, governor? Make it easier to access. That way, women can terminate a pregnancy early on, under the care of a doctor, rather than waiting until late in the pregnancy, when the risk of complications is higher.
You’re pro-life – so surely you want to prevent abortion. The way to do that is simple: just help women prevent unplanned pregnancies. Make sure they have access to affordable birth control and to affordable, nearby, qualified doctors.
If you were doing that, I might believe you that your goal is to protect the health and safety of all Wisconsin citizens. But you have done the exact opposite.
It was sold as a way to prevent taxpayer dollars from funding abortions. But what really happened is that five clinics run by Planned Parenthood, all in rural areas, have shut down as a direct result of losing state funding. Not one of those clinics performed abortions.
They provided other, crucial, affordable health care for women: screenings for breast and cervical cancer – and birth control – and STD testing and treatment – and health exams.
And you shut them down.
You say you care about women’s health and safety.
But come on, governor, don’t hide your anti-abortion ideal. When someone asks who opposes reproductive freedom … raise your hand! Let that anti-choice flag fly because the people of Wisconsin have a right to know the real you this time around.