Monday, October 13, 2014

Scott Walker's women's outreach: shutting clinics, repealing equal pay, mandating ultrasounds and more

Ardent women's rights advocate, Governor Scott Walker
During the first 2014 Wisconsin gubernatorial debate, Scott Walker wanted to assure voters that he's very reasonable in regards to abortion, and really just has women's health in mind. He's pro-life, but he can't imagine the difficulty of the situation; he just wants to make sure women are safe. Ultimately, the choice is hers. That's what he says. Turns out, he's a liar.

Come on now, pick yourself up off the floor, sit back down, and let's go over his women's outreach strategy for the past four years. What Scott Walker says and does when he's in power -- not just the month before the election.

First, there's the repeal of equal pay protections. Like many of his other controversial measures, signed into law right before the weekend. It's almost like he doesn't want voters -- women, and men who give a damn about women -- to know that he's making gender based wage discrimination easier. Because, as champion of the repeal, Wisconsin State Senator and village idiot Glenn Grothman argued, "money is more important for men." Walker was happy to do Grothman's and other misogynist Republican's bidding, signing the repeal.
Item One on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: limit women's recourse for gender-based pay discrimination

Of course, withdrawing funds from (leading to the closure of) health clinics that primarily serve women is another win for Walker. Not women, but who cares if they need cancer screenings, birth control, wellness screenings, etc.?  This, of course, was part of his anti-abortion vendetta. The kicker? Some of the clinics that had to close didn't actually provide abortions. (Nevermind that limiting family planning options leads to more unplanned pregnancies, and consequently more abortions). Oops!
Item Two on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: close multiple Planned Parenthoods (even clinics that don't perform abortions) because he hates abortion

Speaking of abortion, part of Walker's women's outreach includes the goal of making abortion illegal. In every circumstance. Even if the mother's life is on the line. Walker talks about abortion being a woman's choice (notably, in the present tense -- that is, it is "today it's her choice") now, during the election. But in the past he's proudly owned his radical views. To Scott Walker, a woman's very life is inconsequential, if she's carrying a zygote, embryo or fetus. As he has made clear.
Item Three on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: outlaw abortion, even for rape and incest victims, and even if the woman's life is on the line

While we're on the topic, Governor Walker decided to boost his appeal to women and decent human beings in general by mandating ultrasounds for women seeking abortions. And, again, this was signed on a weekend, this time in private and quietly announced on a Friday (sensing a pattern here?). So, now women who need abortions have to get ultrasounds. They can be external, if the fetus is large enough to be picked up. But if it's too early, you know what that means: mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds. Thanks to Wisconsin's own gyonotician-in-chief.
Item Four on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: mandate invasive, costly and medically unnecessary procedures as a prerequisite to attaining an abortion

Still on the topic (yup, the governor's all about it being the woman's choice...)...in the same mandatory ultrasounds bill, Walker signed into law a requirement that abortion providers must have admitting privileges at a hospital. This is an absurd requirement, as complications are extremely rare; and one you do not see applied to any other comparable set of providers. This follows a nation-wide pattern by extreme anti-choice governors and legislators, in forcing abortion clinics to shut their doors by erecting too many hurdles to their continued operation.
Item Five on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: erect more hurdles to safe abortions

 While Governor Walker isn't busying himself specifically targeting women, he tends to take stances that disproportionately (and negatively) impact women. His dismissal of setting a minimum wage that covers basic living expenses, for instance, has a highly skewed impact on women. Wisconsin women are more than twice as likely as men to work in low-paying jobs. Scott Walker's solution? Save up for an education with your minimum wage earnings. Nevermind that an income below a living wage means no extra cash lying around for tuition; nevermind that Scott Walker cut education so steeply that 40,000 + people are on a waitlist for financial aid in this state. Nevermind that many of the women working these jobs are working mothers -- meaning their dollar, and time, has to stretch that much further.
Item Six on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: deny working people, overwhelmingly women and mothers, a chance to earn a living wage

Blaming the poor because they don't have the money to improve their situation in life is Walker on a good day. Otherwise, it's full-on demonizing. "My belief is we shouldn't be paying for them to sit on the couch, watching TV or playing Xbox," Walker told cheering campaign volunteers recently, as he promised to pursue drug testing for food stamp recipients. This is straight up Heritage Foundation-esque propaganda, in the Republican effort to convince their base to kick downwards, at the over-privileged and undeserving poor. (Also? Illegal. Federal law prohibits it. It's just pandering rhetoric, meant to incite hate against the poor "other"). And how does that impact women? Because women are, as noted above, more than twice as likely to work low paying jobs than men, and twice as likely as men to need foodstamps at least once.
Item Six on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: demonize poor people (overwhelmingly, women and their children) who need food assistance

So there you have it...our illustrious governor, working hard to infantilize, restrict and limit women by cutting recourse for wage discrimination, cutting healthcare options and availability, mandating unnecessary medical procedures, limiting educational opportunities, demonizing the poor, etc., etc. Whether it's directly targeted at women, or if women are mere collateral damage, Scott Walker's impact on Wisconsin women has been demonstrably harmful. We have fewer healthcare options, less legal protection when facing discrimination, more barriers to access and care, and a governor who completely disregards us -- except to implement patronizing, patriarchal laws.

That is Scott Walker's women's outreach. 

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