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When I was a young man in the U.S. Navy, stationed far from my home, I had to borrow $350 from my father in order to pay for an abortion.
While it was a turbulent moment in my life, it truly didn’t have the kind of impact it might have, until later, as I grew, matured and became politically interested and aware. Abortion became a political issue and a point of discussion.
My recollection of that moment in my life, and the life of the young woman who I’d gotten pregnant, has climbed back to the front of my mind as the new legislative session has gotten underway in Madison and the assault on women’s rights is getting underway again.
Wisconsin Right to Life is a powerful, almost five-decade old anti-abortion organization that is flexing its muscles once again, chipping away at the rights of a woman to control her own body. The strategy for the organization has always been one of "death by a thousand cuts" as it has tried to take away a little bit here and a little bit there, hoping for the eventual ban on all abortions.
It’s a fool’s errand but sinister nonetheless – and one that diverts attention from the other stuff that demands attention from our lawmakers.
Here’s the latest battle plan for the organization which continues to fight for limits on the right to abortions in Wisconsin.
The first thing it’s after is to pass a ban on all procedures used to end pregnancies after the 12th week. The second trimester procedures involve removing a fetus with a combination of a suction tube and surgical instruments. Wisconsin Right to Life and other organizations refer to this procedure as "dismemberment abortions" and describe them in the most gruesome ways possible as can be seen on an FAQ section on the website of the organization.
In a statement on their website, Heather Weininger, the executive director of the organization said that "a priority for us is ending dismemberment abortions and ending a gruesome procedure."
The medical profession calls the procedure "dilation and evacuation," and the American Association of Obstetrics and Gynecologists calls it the "predominant approach to abortion after 13 weeks."
Only six states have passed measures to block abortions after 12 weeks, and in three of those, the courts have halted the laws.
Wisconsin is becoming a right-wing laboratory for this kind of legislation, and those of us who care about the right of a woman to control her own body need to gear up for a fight.
In the last legislative session, lawmakers and Governor Scott Walker managed to pass a measure banning abortions after 20 weeks from fertilization, and this latest move just keeps pushing the envelope backward. It’s likely not the only effort to come up during this session.
A Republican from De Pere has announced that he will introduce a bill to prevent physicians from the University of Wisconsin from doing any outside work for Planned Parenthood or any other organization that provides abortions.
The legislature will also likely bring back a bill to ban certain types of research that is conducted on aborted fetuses. The measure failed last session but some GOP lawmakers are convinced there is more support for the measure this time.
It’s easy to think about this stuff in the abstract and have cocktail discussions about the issues. But for me, it’s not really so abstract.
In 1965 in San Francisco, a young woman named Daisy got pregnant. I borrowed $350 from my dad so she could go to an appointment in a local hotel and get an abortion. It was the only way to find someone to perform the procedure.
I went with her, but never saw her after the day of the procedure. She disappeared from my life just as I disappeared from hers.
But her memory has stayed with me forever. I don’t want to go back to those days. I don’t want any other young woman to have to struggle to have control of her own body. I want all women to have free and unfettered control of their own bodies.
The self-righteous preaching from groups like Right to Life are an expense of energy on a mission doomed to eventual failure. And that energy could be used to solve so many pressing problems facing our state, if only these legislative tools could find the backbone to look at Wisconsin Right to Life and just say no.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.