Fresh off the heels last weekend’s massive Women’s March on Washington, abortion opponents organized a much smaller march Friday in favor of a radical anti-abortion agenda that would forbid access to the procedure even when the mother’s life was in danger, and in cases of rape and incest. Emboldened by Donald Trump and Republican one-party government, a few dozen Wisconsin diehards joined the D.C. march to further restrict abortion access.
Speaker Paul Ryan has come under massive criticism lately for including a pledge to “de-fund” Planned Parenthood in his repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Trump has also backed that pledge, but since Paul Ryan put the issue on the table, hundreds of thousands of citizens have called, emailed, and signed petitions to complain.
“We’ve heard reports from local supporters trying to get through to Speaker Ryan’s office who were not even able to leave a voicemail,” said Nicole Safar, director of government relations at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin. She noted that Planned Parenthood provides many critical health care services for women, beyond just abortion, including cancer screenings, pap smears, and contraception. In many places in Wisconsin and around the country, a Planned Parenthood clinic is the only accessible and affordable care for many women.
“Nationwide, 59 percent of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, the highest percentage since 1996, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center,” wrote the Washington Post today.
“It’s clear that blocking health care access is a deeply unpopular policy, even among Trump supporters – 48% of whom support Planned Parenthood,” said Safar.
While more than a half-million people attended the Women’s March in DC, an estimated 750,000 in Los Angeles, and more than 3 million people attended one of dozens of marches across the country and the world, reports indicate less than 20,000 attended the March for Life this year.
Under Scott Walker and Paul Ryan, Wisconsin has led the way with restrictive and discriminatory policies, making Wisconsin a familiar battleground for anti-abortion activists. The state already bans abortion after 20 weeks, requires expensive and difficult waiting periods, and insists upon sometimes-intrusive and always-unnecessary ultrasounds. There are only three abortion clinics left in the entire state.
Pro-Life Wisconsin Communications Director Jade Hrdi told WBAY-TV that abortion foes are optimistic that Planned Parenthood would be defunded, despite the massive public opposition to doing so. Pro-Life Wisconsin believes that birth control pills and IUDs should be outlawed and that all women should be forced to carry all pregnancies to term, even at the risk of their own health, future reproduction, or the cost to their families.
But that hasn’t slowed Planned Parenthood activists in Wisconsin from gearing up to save the healthcare access they provide.