In ten short days, Wisconsin Republicans steamrolled a radical abortion bill through the state legislature to mandate ultrasounds and close abortion clinics, despite passionate opposition from Democratic Assemblywomen. The debate had many dramatic moments and video of the Senate President furiously gaveling down the opposition made national news.
When the Philadelphia City Council passed a paid sick days bill on March 14, it was the second of three wins in a two week period for the movement to let workers take a sick day without losing pay or their jobs. But the Council then fell one vote short of overriding a mayoral veto, providing a case study in how special interests aligned with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) work to oppose these common-sense bills.
The people of Missouri and Indiana were, in effect, given a referendum on "legitimate rape" on election day, and they soundly rejected the concept by defeating U.S. Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. The two legislators had stirred controversy over their verbal attempts to characterize the validity of a rape victim's experience in order to push forward their anti-abortion agendas.
As part of a GOP effort to distance itself from the offensive remarks on "legitimate" rape recently made by Rep. Todd Akin, GOP Vice President nominee Paul Ryan has joined in the pleas aimed at the Congressman to pull out of Missouri's fall Senate race. Ryan would not discuss the details of a phone call he made to his friend and anti-abortion ally, but the conversation must have been awkward. Akin was only articulating the view that there should be no exception for rape or incest that he and Ryan both attempted to legislate into law in vote after vote in Congress.
Karl Rove's American Crossroads is hoping to help the GOP regain ground among women, particularly Latina women. According to a Gallup poll President Barack Obama has a 48 point advantage among Latino voters, while a CNN poll finds that women voters back Obama over Romney by a 16 point margin. Now Rove's Super PAC is trying to make inroads with these voters, releasing an online ad that attempts to turn the "War on Women" charge on Obama. The Super PAC is testing the video in focus groups, with an eye toward potentially creating a 30-second TV ad, according to CNN.
Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker was in Illinois, speaking to the Illinois Chamber of Commerce on April 17, and a huge crowd of protestors was there to "unwelcome" him.
While Walker compared himself to Honest Abe on the inside of the Lincoln Hotel in Springfield, an estimated 4,000 workers rallied on the outside. Props included a giant rat and a large Walker image on a board imprinted with the words "don't Badger us."
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 202, essentially a reversal of Wisconsin's Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (Act 20), into law on April 5, 2012, more than a month after the bill was passed. Despite Walker's attempts to sign the bill in secret, without the customary notice given to legislators and the public, the move did not go unnoticed and was rapidly drawn up into the national battle over what women's advocates and leading Democrats have dubbed a national "war on women."
Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," has generated widespread media attention this year. The process, which injects water and chemicals into the ground to release "natural" gas and oil from shale bedrock, has been shown to contribute significantly to air and water pollution and has even been linked to earthquakes. But little has been reported on the ways in which fracking may have unique impacts on women. Chemicals used in fracking have been linked to breast cancer and reproductive health problems and there have been reports of rises in crimes against women in some fracking "boom" towns, which have attracted itinerant workers with few ties to the community.
The Wisconsin State Assembly wrapped up a marathon 33-hour session Friday, ending a contentious two-year legislative session marked by massive protests on the collective bargaining issue and an 18 day Capitol occupation.
Galloway Resigns, Senate Split 16-16
It was the last floor session before the six recall elections scheduled for the summer, which could change the balance of power in the Senate and the Governor's office. In a surprise move on the last day of the session, Republican Senator Pam Galloway, one of the targets of the recall, resigned for family health reasons.
Hundreds of protestors showed up to the "Mad as Hell" rally on the Wisconsin State Capitol steps March 13 to protest a series of bills being pushed by Republican lawmakers that would take away a number of women's rights and interfere with women's access to health care in the state.
The rally was led by The Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and a number of other women's rights groups.
"Unfortunately, we have one of the most anti-women's health, anti-choice, anti-birth control legislatures that Wisconsin has ever seen," said Tanya Atkinson, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin.