Coward! Scott Walker signed his shiny new anti-abortion laws today, on a holiday weekend. The bills were rammed through the legislature in 9 days from the time of introduction to passage - record speed for any proposed measure in order to keep public reaction to a minimum. And now he's signed it on a Friday on a holiday weekend to keep it out of the public eye.
He loves to tout his "courage" whenever he gives speeches as a Republican Rock Star, but he's just another snivelling coward with a massive security detail (which got even more massive after the February 2011 protests started) to protect him from his own shadow. Or karma. Or whatever boogeyman he suspects is out to get him.
This story is breaking while the diary is being written so I'm editing as fast as I can.
Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services were planning a lawsuit against the new anti-abortion laws rammed through the State Legislature. They were waiting for the bills to be signed into law and in a now breaking announcement, Scott Walker has signed those laws which go into effect immediately.
The groups have now announced their lawsuit.
The state's two abortion providers announced Friday they will sue the state in federal court now that Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill requiring doctors at their facilities to have hospital admitting privileges.Here's what these laws do:
The law will cut the number of clinics offering abortions in Wisconsin from four to two, and one of the remaining clinics wil have to dramatically cut the number of abortions it provides, according to the operators of the clinics.
"When women don't have access to safe, legal abortions, there are health consequences and women die," said Teri Huyck, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.
Walker said Friday that he has signed the bill.
All women seeking abortion will be required to have an ultrasound even if her doctor believes it's medically unnecessary or even potentially harmful. And she will not only have to view it since the law mandates that the screen be placed directly in front of her, but it must be fully described to her, too.
The law's critics call the ultrasound provision an unnecessary infringement on the doctor-patient relationship but do not plan to challenge it in court at this time. Supporters say the provision makes sure women seeking abortions have as much information as possible.On top of that, providers of those ultrasounds need to have admitting priviledges to a hopital within 30 miles. Why? Because Republicans say so.
Providers Need Admitting Priviledges:
This isn't about womens health, it's about making sure clinics close or their services are reduced. Doctors providing abortion services will need to have admitting priviledges at a nearby hospital. And if the nearby hospital is run by a religious institution, no amount of good luck wishes is going to help with that. Additionally, most hopitals require that physicians with admitting priviledges admit a certain number of patients every year. Admissions following an abortion are a very rare event since the procedures used are safe.
Additionally, getting admitting priviledges is a process requiring months of review before being granted. With the new law taking affect as soon as it's signed, it would be impossible to satisfy the law even with a hospital that might be willing to afford admitting priviledges to an abortion provider.
Prohibit Abortion After the 19th Week
That would mean abortions in Wisconsin would not be available north of Madison and after the 19th week of pregnancy would not be available anywhere in the state, according to the suit.Abortion services provided in the later stages of pregnancy are done when the health or life of the woman makes pregnancy termination medically necessary or when severe fetal abnormalities are discovered. However, these can no longer be provided in the state, a prohibition hidden from the public until these bills were signed into law.
The clinics are asking the court to immediately block the law, contending it violates the constitution's due process guarantee, puts an undue burden on a woman's right to choose abortion and unconstitutionally treats doctors who perform abortions differently than doctors who perform other services.
Wisconsin has only 4 clinics which provide abortion services thanks to Republicans stripping funds from Planned Parenthood in 2011. That number will now be reduced to 2, one in Madison and the other in Milwaukee (with 50% less services), leaving women in the rest of the state with several hours of driving in order to access services. Affiliated would be forced to close it's Milwaukee Clinic and the Appleton Planned Parenthood Clinic would also be forced to close. The provisions of the new law would force the Milwaukee Planned Parenthood Clinic to reduce its services by 50%.
I assumed that he'd sign it alongside his shiny new budget which contained large quantities on non-budget policy items, further flattens our tax code (good news for rich people!), further tightens the reins on local governments ability to make up for losses by raising property taxes, and ensures that for-profit charter schools will proliferate across the state using state funds taken from public schools and generous tax breaks for parents of students enrolled in those private schools (yeah, a nice return on the investments these businesses made in Republican politicians in 2010 and 2012). He didn't.
Challenges to similar laws in other states have had some success, at least initially. Nationally, the matter will likely be decided by higher courts ultimately, said Elizabeth Nash, the state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, a group that supports abortion rights.
"Even if a district court blocks a law, strikes down a law, nobody's going to give up here," Nash said. "This is going to go to the appellate court level. It's a very long row to hoe."
When Walker signs the law, Wisconsin will become the eighth state to have a hospital admitting requirement, according to Guttmacher.
While there was a lot of public reaction to the bill, it was 9 days from introduction to passage. No debate was allowed in the State Senate (Senate President Mike Ellis broke his gavel telling Democrats to sit down and shut up) and limited debate and no amendments were allowed in the State Assembly.
Many members of the public were removed from public galleries by the State Capitol Police who, under the leadership of Chief Fitzgerald (State retiree, Walker appointee, and father to former Senate majority leader and failed US Senate candidate Jeff Fitzgerald as well as State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald), has now resembled the palace guard of a Third World Dictator more than a respectable law enforcement organization.
The wave of anti-abortion measures in states with Republican control of the entire state government closely mirrors the wave of anti-union measures introducted in 2011 which, ultimately, were found to eminate from ALEC. This, too, seems to be a coordinated effort moving from one Republican controlled state to another and identical in language and requirement and a bevy of sleazy tactics are being used to push these measures through as quickly as possible.
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It's been decades since women were given the right to control their own bodies. Too few of us remain who remember the bad old days of back alley abortion and the injuries and deaths that resulted. Too few of us remember when complications from abortion were among the top 5 causes of death of women. Too few of us are around to relate the horror of watching someone die from a septic abortion. Too few of us remember how women tried to self-induce abortion by using devides like coathangers, falling down stairs or stepping into traffic.
I remember. We're not going back there. No more coathangers.
UPDATE: Interesting Timing Edition: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a feature storyup today about the lawyer, Lester Pines, who handled not only the Acto 10 (union busting) and Voter ID lawsuits, but will also be handling the Anti-Abortion Law lawsuit. It's worth a read.
UPDATE: It's Not The Only Law He Signed in Secret Edition: Scott Walker also took the holiday weekend to sign other monstrostities into lawthat he doesn't want the public to know about.
Gov. Scott Walker approved a bill Friday setting a modest increase in weekly jobless payments for laid-off workers, but also limiting who can receive the benefits.Yup, more money to go to the ever flattening state tax rate that benefits the 1% by taking money away from people who are unemployed.
The Republican-backed measure is aimed at reducing overall unemployment payments by about $11.5 million a year.
Walker also approved a bill that will remove restrictions in place since 2005 on one-on-one contacts between utilities and top aides at the state Public Service Commission.That's right, folks. Once again the utilities will have their lobbyists in place to get up to the same no good that they've done in the past. Utilities get their way and consumers get the shaft.
Such conversations had been banned under an open government settlement between the PSC and Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager. That settlement ended an investigation by Lautenschlager into the PSC's decision to allow Milwaukee-based We Energies to review one of its decisions before it was finalized.
More coverage of the outrageous anti-abortion law here.