Republicans scored another victory in their war on women on Friday when Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin covertly signed three bills that severely restrict abortion rights and access to contraception. After killing an Equal Pay law that prevents discrimination against women by employers, Walker signed 49 other bills into law, including three more targeting women.
One bill bans insurance policies offered through the state health insurance exchange program of the Affordable Care Act from including abortion coverage. The bill includes exemptions for rape, incest, and medical necessity such as an ectopic pregnancy. I’ll give Republicans some credit here. At least they included exemptions, but that still doesn’t justify this law. Republicans are banning insurance companies from offering crucial coverage for women and such a ban could also ban coverage of many forms of contraception such as the morning after pill. In other words, this bill flies in the face of the Obama Administration’s new rules that require insurance companies to offer women contraception coverage.
Another bill signed by Walker basically repeals a law requiring educators to teach about contraception as a birth control method. The new law allows teachers to not discuss contraception at all and forces teachers to promote abstinence as the ONLY way to prevent disease and pregnancy. Basically, the bill gives teachers the right to inject their ideological beliefs into the classroom. A conservative teacher could preach abstinence as the only kind of sex education which would deprive students of learning about methods that would prevent teen pregnancies. Studies have shown time and time again that abstinence-only programs do NOT work. And more teen pregnancies will mean more abortions.
The third and final bill underscores the incredible lengths Republicans will go to restrict abortion, even if it violates privacy and doctor/patient confidentiality. This bill forces women to be alone in the doctor’s office when seeking an abortion so that the doctor can interrogate her about why she wants an abortion. That’s right, the law requires doctors to question pregnant women in an effort to determine if they are being coerced into obtaining an abortion. This would give legislators unprecedented access to medical records since they would have to check and make sure doctors aren’t breaking the law. Doctors who are found to have broken the law would be charged with a felony which could mean prison time. I would really like to know how this bill prevents trumped-up charges stemming from claims that a doctor didn’t interrogate the poor woman enough before performing the procedure, because Republicans more than likely have their own definition of how doctors should interrogate women seeking abortion. The only way I can see this requirement being fulfilled is if a Republican or anti-abortion activist is actually in the room observing the doctor ask questions. I have to wonder, if interrogations don’t produce the desired results, will Republicans then pass a law forcing doctors to torture women into saying they are being pressured to have an abortion? Seems like a slippery slope to me, not to mention an incredible intrusion by government.
The passage of these bills almost certainly makes Wisconsin the most anti-women state in the nation. Teenage girls won’t be able to learn about contraception. Then when they become adults, they can’t get coverage for contraception or abortion in their insurance policies. And if a woman does have an unwanted pregnancy, she’ll be forced to undergo an interrogation by her doctor and have her private medical decisions and conversations with her doctor violated by the government. It’s a triple threat to personal liberty, privacy, and education, three things Republicans don’t seem to want women to have. These laws are not about protecting religious freedom, they are about making women subservient to conservative men regarding their reproductive health. Scott Walker just proved that there is indeed a war being waged against women and that it is the Republican Party waging it.