Friday, October 31st, 2014

In Context: Strong statements on abortion

In silent protest, opponents of a series of Republican-backed bills dealing with abortions hold their hands over their mouths while watching debate in the state Assembly on June 13, 2013. AP photo by Scott Bauer
In silent protest, opponents of a series of Republican-backed bills dealing with abortions hold their hands over their mouths while watching debate in the state Assembly on June 13, 2013. AP photo by Scott Bauer

Passions ran high when the Wisconsin Senate debated a bill to require women to obtain an ultrasound before getting an abortion. The Republican-backed measure cleared the Senate, 17-15, on June 13, 2013, passed the Assembly a day later, and has Gov. Scott Walker's support.

Republican Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, the bill's author, said about abortions: "You know, it became popular in the '60s and it was almost the thing to do. You needed to get one of them to be a woman."

Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), an opponent of the bill, said: "Let’s trust women to make choices for themselves, and for the love of Wisconsin, let’s stay out of their vaginas."

To get a fuller picture of the comments by the two senators, we decided it was time for In Context, our occasional in-depth presentation of remarks that get widespread attention.

Lazich's comments

On June 12, 2013, Lazich spoke for several minutes about the merits of the ultrasound bill before making the comment about the '60s.

Here's that portion of her remarks:

"Any clinic that's going to rush a woman through it and not give her the ultrasound, that's a clinic, quite frankly, I don't want in Wisconsin because they're not providing information for women. They're not making this world safe and healthy for women. That's a quality of health care that we rise above. And there's no reason that we should not be doing this.

"As I say, Affiliated in Milwaukee (an abortion provider), they've got their admitting privileges (to hospitals), they do their abortions. You know, (if) you really make up your mind you want to do it, go somewhere safe, go somewhere safe and credible.

"But these places that tell you, 'It's a blob of tissue, get it done quick, you're doing the right thing, you don't have a job, you don't have a father, you're too young, you're this, you're that.' That -- that's words I shouldn't say on the Senate floor. But that's baloney. That's just wrong, that is wrong. And we're not doing that to women any more in this state.

"You're going to get the full information. And you want to make that decision and do it, at least you're doing it with full information. You have regrets, you know, it's an I-told-you-so thing. But the mountains of women now that are regretting these abortions. You know, it became popular in the '60s and it was almost the thing to do. You needed to get one of them to be a woman.

"And now look what those women have to go through, when they hit menopause, when they get to be about 40. It's a severe, severe attack on their mental health and on their physical health. And then those that, you know, it was the only chance they had, then they couldn't have children after that. Honest to Pete, this is the most ridiculous thing."

Larson's comments

On June 11, 2013, Larson rose to argue for an amendment that might make a less-intrusive abdominal ultrasound available as an option instead of the more invasive transvaginal type.

He also spoke against requiring any kind of ultrasound.

"It’s a deeply personal decision that should be left to women," Larson said of getting an abortion. "I think we should trust women on this.

"What I don’t think we should do is continue down the path of Big Government intrusion into people’s lives that has been happening for the last two-and-a-half years. And I think government cannot get any bigger than being able to find its way into a woman’s vagina.

"So let’s just pass this amendment to say that at least we’re going to have that shred of dignity, we are not going to force a woman into a trans-vaginal ultrasound, that it will be restricted to a trans-abdominal ultrasound."

"And let’s take two steps back. To imply there needs to be an ultrasound is, again, medically unaccurate. This is not something the medical community is asking for. This is not something that has to happen. So, pretending this is something that just needs to be codified in law is false. All we are doing is codifying a strange ideology, a far-reaching ideology into our law, something that has no place...

"If we want to help people, we could do something like accept the Medicaid expansion  to make sure that people have care they are entitled to. But instead we are just focusing on making sure that we are not pro-health, we are not pro-life, we are just pro-birth.

"So I hope we do not table this and I would hope there would be some other excuse other than to say, "Well, flip of a coin, women have a choice, let’s hope they stumble into a clinic that has an alternative for them, so they don’t have to pull their pants down, get into a stirrup because the state decided that’s what we want to do today.

"So I would hope that we would take a step away from this ideological war on women, let’s trust women to make choices for themselves, and for the love of Wisconsin, let’s stay out of their vaginas."