Planned Parenthood rallies against GOP’s “war on women”March 14th, 2012 |
Tuesday was the last day of Wisconsin’s regular legislative session and on the agenda for the Assembly were three bills that critics say would curtail access to health care for low-income women, turn back the clock on sex education in our schools, and declare war on Planned Parenthood.
In response to these bills — AB337, AB154 and AB371 — Planned Parenthood and other organizations active in promoting reproductive choice held a rally on the Capitol steps in Madison. Dubbed the “Mad as Hell” rally, the focus was to let legislators, specifically Republican legislators, know that women are watching and they will against those who vote to end a woman’s access to health care.
Tanya Atkinson, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, said the attack on women’s health care is a misplaced priority for the legislature and is dangerous for the women of Wisconsin.
“We’re going to let them know that women are watching, women have been watching and that we vote,” Atkinson said.
“I think all the legislation is harmful. The repeal of the Healthy Youth Act; our young people absolutely need this information. It is life-saving information,” she added. “They are saying we don’t need medically accurate information in our schools, which seems like a strange way to teach a class.”
“There has been a theme throughout this entire legislative session and that is a war on women.”
The Healthy Youth Act currently mandates that sex education classes in public schools use a curriculum proven to reduce risky behaviors that result in unintended teenage pregnancy and STDs. Classes must use age-appropriate, medically accurate information to discuss sexuality, reproduction, sexual anatomy, pregnancy, gender stereotypes and responsible decision-making in regards to sex.
Republicans want courses to focus on abstinence, the socioeconomic benefits of marriage, and for sex education classes to be taught to single-sex groups. The GOP version would also relieve school boards that decide against providing sex education from having to inform parents of that decision.
Louise Dotter of Spring Green, Wisconsin, came to the rally with her daughter and held up a sign that asked, “If you cut off my reproductive rights, can I cut off yours?”
“We need a Lysistrata moment,” she said. “The play where women withhold sex to end the war. Plus, I’m sick and tired of these old white guys from running my life and my daughters. They are trying to make women do things that men should have to do to get Viagra. I’m sick of it.”
“I’m here in support of human rights,” said Don Martiniak. “Women deserve the best health care in the world, so do men. But what the Republicans are doing not just here, but nationwide, is just unconscionable. By attacking women, they’re attacking men too.”
Martiniak’s wife, Elizabeth, told her story to the crowd. She described life-threatening anemia that was stabilized by a dose of contraceptive that allowed her body to heal in preparation for a hysterectomy. She thanked Planned Parenthood for being there for all her health care needs.
Democratic legislators, including Reps. Sandy Pasch (D-Milwaukee) and Mark Pocan (D-Madison) joined the crowd to lend support. State Republicans, who were pushing the legislation, were absent from the rally.