hearts and minds

September 27, 2007

Assembly Fails to Protect the Rights of Victims of Violent Crime

AB 377, the Compassionate Care for Victims of Rape bill, is supported by over eighty percent of Wisconsin residents, and was passed 27-to-6 by clear majorities of both Republican and Democratic Wisconsin State Senators. It is a common sense bill to protect and restore the rights, the health, and the futures of victims of violent crime.

Then the Oral Roberts University graduate who is the Speaker of the Republican majority Wisconsin State Assembly (Michael Huebsch) assigned the bill to the Assembly Judiciary Committee, headed by far-out wrong-wing-Republican Mark Gundrum.
There is no valid reason for assigning that bill to the Judiciary Committee. Public Health is the appropriate committee. But Gundrum has a Taliban-like opposition to contraception, and vowed that he would never hold hearings on the bill or allow it to get an up-or-down vote on the Assembly floor, so fellow anti-contraception flake Huebsch assigned AB 377 to him.

Misogynists comprise most of the opposition to this bill. Misogynists are people who hate women and girls, and show it but vehemently deny it. Misogynists often maintain that God has informed them that once a male sperm has entered a woman’s (or girl’s) body, that no matter how it got there, she has no right to prevent a pregnancy from occurring. (Be advised that the average age of a rape victim in the USA is fifteen!)

That’s what this is about. AB 377 is NOT about aborting an established pregnancy. It’s about the right of a victim to PREVENT a pregnancy in the event of sexual assault. It’s about PREVENTING abortions. Preventing a rape-induced pregnancy is safe and easy. But it must be done within hours, and it only works BEFORE a pregnancy occurs. (The pertinent biological events, and the specifics of this bill, are discussed in my June article on this subject, which is archived in this blog in the category “women’s rights”.)

I want any misogynist who can rationally communicate to tell me exactly how God directly informed him that a female has no right to prevent a pregnancy from occurring after a rape. I want to know what he thinks gives him the right to impose his aberrant theological concepts on everybody else, whether they share his twisted beliefs or not.

Am I not being polite enough? Then tell me how “polite” is a nut case who would employ the force of secular law to impose his own awful theological misconceptions, and the will of a rapist, on the life of a traumatized, terrorized victim of crime that might be your sister, daughter, or wife … and then call that “the will of God”.

One argument made against AB 377 is that “immoral” and careless women will intentionally go to a hospital and claim they were raped in order to get contraceptive medicine to avoid consequences of their own mistake or lack of sexual self-control. That’s bogus. We can’t deny an innocent victim her rights to prevent someone else from possibly committing fraud and the crime of making a false police report. The difficulty of procuring medicine that way makes it a risky and unlikely eventuality. And the remedy is to enforce the law. The remedy is not to fail to protect and restore a crime victim’s rights.

The most brilliant argument I’ve heard (from those who maintain their certainty that a rapist’s sperm expresses God’s will) is, “Two wrongs don’t make a right”. (You know what you can do with that dumkoff’s kindergarten-class argument.) Requiring that a victim be informed how, and then be helped if she requests, to safely and effectively prevent a pregnancy caused by a sexual assault, is NOT “making a wrong”.

If a victim prefers to just wait and hold her breath and see whether or not she gets pregnant, and then figure out what she’s going to do about it, we all agree that is her “privilege”. But that doesn’t have to be her fate, and such a fate certainly shouldn’t be determined FOR her by the whims of some wing-nut politicians who swagger in the belief they are on “a mission from God”. Ditto for the board of the hospital/pharmacy which she finds, or where she is brought, after the terrible assault.

A female isn’t pregnant until she’s pregnant. And she retains the absolute and sole right to prevent a pregnancy from occurring to her. No one has the right to demand that a female become pregnant. (You got a problem with that? Then you got a misogyny problem.) Who (in God’s name) would claim that a rapist, or a stranger in a hospital or pharmacy, or an even stranger politician (citing their sick aggression, or a coprporate policy, or their peculiar belief in God) has that right?

A victim of sexual assault has the right to prevent a pregnancy from occurring from the attack. That right must be protected and guaranteed, and that is precisely what the unadulterated AB 377 would do.

Mark Gundrum has been feeling the heat of the overwhelming public support for the passage of this bill, so he pulled a few legislative tricks on the public, besides just sitting on it for months. First, he reversed his promise and abruptly held surprise hearings to minimize public and expert testimony. Then he introduced an “amendment” to AB 377 in the committee he chairs. The “amendment” simply states that nothing in the bill (if it becomes law) will have the effect of requiring anyone or any institution to follow the law. (You read that right.) And the amendment even goes further backwards than existing law. It actually prohibits any hospital or medical personnel from liability for failing to provide a patient who is a victim of rape with the medical care that is fully recognized and identified by the medical profession as the preferred medical treatment for that condition.

Six of the ten members of the state Assembly Judiciary Committee represent districts that are within the suburban communities surrounding Milwaukee. Those suburban districts are part of what I have called the “halo of privilege and hubris”. That “halo” was responsible for producing the 6 votes in the Senate (ALL six were Republican) against this bill. And that “halo” produced the 6-4 vote (ALL six were Republicans) in Chairman Gundrum’s highly unbalanced Judiciary and Ethics (!) committee in favor of his trick amendment that would backtrack and make the proposed law actually worse than the current situation, and otherwise meaningless.

Gundrum and his sidekicks have turned the bill inside out so that a vote FOR the butchered bill (with Gundrum’s amendment) is now a vote to make things even worse than they are. And a NO vote to kill “Gundrum’s abortion” of what WAS a good crime victims’ rights bill, is the only choice he has left the full Assembly – and the people. Unless the more rational legislators in the rank and file Assembly can remove that stinking Gundrum amendment and vote on AB 377 in the original form it was passed by the Senate 26 to 7.

I became curious whether the cockeyed “halo” was represented at all in the top leadership of the Wisconsin legislature. “Represented” is hardly the word for it. In the State Senate, BOTH of the current Republican leaders (Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assistant Minority Leader Joseph Leibham) were among the tiny minority of six in the Senate and in their own Party who voted against this important victims rights bill.

Turning to the state Assembly leadership, ALL FOUR of the current Republican leaders of that legislative body represent districts that are within one of the six Senate Districts whose (Republican) senators cast those six lonely, pathetic votes against this bill that is supported by over eighty percent of the residents of Wisconsin. I am referring here, of course, to Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch (Rep) whose Senator Daniel Kapanke (Rep) cast one of the Senate “No” votes. Can you guess who is the Assistant Majority Leader of the Assembly? Yup, it’s none other than Judiciary Committee Chair Mark Gundrum (Rep), whose Senator Mary Lazich (Rep) also was one of the six sore Senate thumbs that turned down. Majority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald (Rep) is from the “halo of hubris” Senate District controlled by Scott Fitzgerald (Rep), also a rare “No” vote. And none other than brand new Speaker Pro Tempore Mark Gottlieb (Rep) of Ozaukee County is from the “halo” Senate District controlled by Glenn Grothman (Rep) who was one of those six lame votes.

This flaky “halo of hubris” isn’t just “represented” in the leadership of the Wisconsin legislature. It doesn’t just “dominate” the Republican leadership. It IS the ENTIRE Republican leadership of our state legislature. And that ENTIRE Republican legislative leadership is on record 100 percent in opposition to 82 percent of Wisconsin citizens, and 80 percent of the State Senate, and the majority of the as yet offically uncounted state Assembly. The Republican leadership of the state legislature stands opposed to the majority of the state legislators of their own Party! And that is why Huebsch and Gundrum are engaging in their strange political contortions and tricks.

How do you like that? The ENTIRE Republican leadership of BOTH houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature “represents” districts within the six (out of 33 total) Senate districts that voted against this common sense bill to protect the rights and the future of victims of violent crime that is supported by over 80 percent of Wisconsin citizens. Those flaky Republican Senate leaders were unable to thwart the will of the people and their colleagues. Now, two key “leaders” who control the Assembly agenda have already publicly twisted and distorted their responsibilities to fit their personal political agenda, trying to torpedo this bill and its chance of getting a straight up-or-down vote and finally becoming the needed law.

The Republican legislative leaders are voting and acting against the majority of the votes of the legislators in their own Party, and they are acting directly contrary to the wishes of the citizens of Wisconsin.

But let there be no misunderstanding, with regards to this particular bill which is overwhelmingly supported by the people. The ONLY legislators who have voted (or polled) so far in BOTH the Senate and in the Assembly AGAINST over 80 percent of the people, are members of the Republican Party.

It’s time to turn these nags out to pasture, and kick their so-called leaders out of their saddles.

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12 Comments »

  1. I’ll second that! well written. people need to know what is going on in Madison ..so thank you for keeping watch.

    Comment by Marjie T — September 27, 2007 @ 4:52 pm | Reply

  2. Those that oppose this bill and supported the amendment to gut the bill do not even believe rape victims should be told about Emergency Contraception. They don’t just oppose EC, but all forms of birth control–EC, the patch, birth control pills, etc. There is a war on women going on in the state capitol, and it is expressed in this bill but also in so many others. They want to make abortion illegal, but they want to make birth control illegal too. Thank you for bringing attention to this issue.

    Comment by Chris T — September 27, 2007 @ 9:02 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks for shedding (sun)light on these political games. We have to let our elected officials know what we want by contacting them. Thanks for keeping track of all these machinations

    Comment by Dorothy B — September 28, 2007 @ 8:22 am | Reply

  4. When partisanship and partisan political behavior infect a democracy, power will corrupt and absolute power will corrupt absolutely.

    Comment by Howard H — September 28, 2007 @ 9:06 am | Reply

  5. Thank you for your editorial. I am appalled at the actions of these legislators whose duty it is to serve the public. I appreciate you bringing this to light.

    Comment by Holly M. — September 28, 2007 @ 11:28 am | Reply

  6. Thank you for following these types of issues so intensely and informing the public. It is shameful that the right wing Republicans can underhandedly rape the rape victims a second time by not allowing them medical care.
    Definition of rape – The forcible and unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman against her will.

    Comment by Pat B. — September 29, 2007 @ 11:10 am | Reply

  7. Ron Paul thinks this is disgusting too. Don’t know who he is? http://www.ronpaul2008.com.

    Another great article, I have too much of a headache to make a lengthy reply. I’m still thinking ab.out my friend Matt Sheridan.

    -Ryan B.

    Comment by Ryan B — September 29, 2007 @ 10:40 pm | Reply

  8. Thanks for the great essay, Clyde.
    Responding to the post above, it’s chilling to me to see Ron “Let’s overturn Roe v. Wade” Paul’s name brought up in this context. http://www.ronpaul2008.com/articles/86/respect-for-life-begins-with-respect-for-the-constitutional-rule-of-law/
    Protecting women’s rights doesn’t mean abandoning them to the states, and I think the Wisconsin Republicans’ actions on AD377 demonstrate that.

    Comment by Jessica W — October 1, 2007 @ 8:02 pm | Reply

  9. Thank you… for your blog on the victim’s rights issue… well done.

    Comment by Bob W — October 7, 2007 @ 5:21 pm | Reply

  10. […] Wednesday the Wisconsin Assembly voted 56 to 41 in favor of the Compassionate Care for Victims of Rape bill, without amendments. Since that bill was overwhelmingly approved last spring by strong majorities of both parties in the State Senate 27 to 6, it will finally become law after a final reading in the Assembly and the Governor signs it, following five years of obstruction by a small but powerful faction. Thanks to all of you in the grassroots who persisted in struggling uphill for years, and to you who contacted your legislative representatives, your media, and your family, friends, and neighbors and urged them to support this bill. Over 80 percent of Wisconsin residents approve this bill, so it is about time.

    Pingback by hearts and minds — December 13, 2007 @ 8:02 am | Reply

  11. I would like to see a continuation of the topic

    Comment by Maximus — December 20, 2007 @ 6:59 am | Reply

  12. You’re right, Maximus. We can’t just leave it there. And I have just revised an article I posted here on “Hearts on Minds” on December 13 that provides us all, in concise form and with specific and accurate detail, the update you seek. It’s a must-read if you live in Ozaukee, Washington, or Waukesha counties, or if you’re a state legislator concerned with the disconnect between legislative leadership on one hand, and the wishes of the people and the rank and file legislators, on the other. It’s also highly recommended if you live in any of the great majority of Wisconsin counties outside of “the halo of privilege and hubris” that is now the tail wagging the whole dog.

    Comment by clydewinter — December 20, 2007 @ 9:03 am | Reply


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