Following up on a segment from last night's show, and a post from Laura Conaway yesterday, Wisconsin Republicans are poised to approve a rather remarkable piece of legislation. The state Senate, led by an enraged Senate President Mike Ellis, pushed through an anti-abortion measure that would, among other things, require women in Wisconsin to have an ultrasound before terminating an unwanted pregnancy.
The proposal is on its way to the state House, where it's expected to be approved by a Republican majority. And what of Wisconsin's governor?
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said Tuesday that he would sign a law requiring women to undergo ultrasounds before having an abortion."I don't have any problem with ultrasound," he told reporters, according to the AP. "I think most people think ultrasounds are just fine."The measure requires women to undergo either a transabdominal or the more-invasive transvaginal ultrasound without regard to medical necessity. The ultrasound would not be required to be interpreted by a physician but by any "qualified person." That person would have to provide a description of the ultrasound to the woman, including its size, location, number of fetuses and any visible organs or body parts.
There are a few angles to this worth remembering. First, note Walker's syntax -- "I don't have any problem with ultrasound" has a similar construction to "I love lamp."
Second, the governor may not fully understand this, but the point of the controversy is not based on the existence of ultrasounds themselves. "I think most people think ultrasounds are just fine"? Why, yes, most people see ultrasounds as a legitimate procedure that can play a meaningful role in modern medicine. No disputes this.
This is a political matter, however, because Wisconsin Republicans aren't just saying, "Ultrasounds are great!" but rather, they're saying that state government can mandate that women undergo ultrasounds for no medical reason whatsoever, regardless of the patient's wishes, and regardless of what medical professionals consider necessary.
It is a profound example of big government run amok: the bill Scott Walker intends to sign puts politics between people and their doctors, on purpose, requiring invasive medical procedures to satisfy the agenda of a right-wing culture war.
What's more, looking ahead, keep in mind that Walker has national ambitions, and is very likely to seek his party's presidential nomination in 2016. And yet, he'll apparently do so as the Midwest's version of "Governor Ultrasound."
Indeed, the first-term Republican has developed quite a record on reproductive rights.
Walker is expected to follow through on his word to sign SB 206. Throughout his time in office, the GOP governor has approved several attacks on women's health. Last year, Walker signed three different bills into law to limit abortion access and expand abstinence-only education. And his recent budget stripped family planning funding away from Planned Parenthood, forcing the women's health organization to close force of its clinics in rural Wisconsin.
This is, of course, exactly the kind of right-wing agenda voters rejected in 2012, when Republicans were slammed for having launched a "war on women," giving Democrats a crucial gender-gap advantage.
Walker and his Wisconsin GOP allies apparently slept through 2012 and learned nothing. How rude their awakening will be remains to be seen.