The XX Factor

Which State Was the Worst for Women This Week?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, pictured this year in Washington, D.C., will let you get an abortion if you’re about to die. But he also wants to make sure you’re sorry about it.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

The legislative season grinds on, and so do the Worst State of the Week honors, in which DoubleX recognizes the member of the Union showing the most vim and vigor in its assaults on women’s basic rights. 

Second runner-up is Texas, for reasons of pure hypocrisy. Republicans in the Lone Star state talk a big game about how much they love motherhood—so much so that women should be forced into it for their own good. But when it comes even to the most minor show of actual support for mothers, legislators balk. Republicans in Texas are quietly killing a bill that would guarantee breaks for public school teachers to pump breast milk at work. As Andrea Grimes at RH Reality Check noted, one supposedly “pro-life” opponent of the bill, state senator Lois Kolkhorst, dismissed the struggles of breastfeeding teachers by saying, “I’m a female who actually was a working mom and had the same issues and was able to be able to continue to breastfeed for my children while I was working.” If she can do it, anyone can! 

First runner-up is Tennessee, for reasons of gluttony. The state constitution’s privacy protections barred the legislature from trying to end legal abortion for years, but a ballot measure in November changed all that. Now anti-choicers in that state are like kids in a candy shop, or more accurately, like a bunch of pent-up religious fanatics unleashed on the public, Game of Thrones–style. The governor just signed a bill requiring clinics to meet a bunch of expensive and medically unnecessary building requirements that will no doubt shut many clinics down. Now it looks like he’s going to sign another bill attacking patients themselves, making them wait 48 hours for an abortion.

This week’s winner, however, is Wisconsin, where Republicans—undeterred by a federal court striking down their most recent law restricting abortion—are at it again with a proposed ban on abortions after 20 weeks. Bans on abortion after 20 weeks are a hot trend in the red states, but Wisconsin’s sticks out for its deviousness and sadism. Proponents of the bill claim that there’s an exception to the ban in the case of medical emergencies, but if you read the fine print, that turns out not to be true. As Jessie Opoien of the Capital Times explains, even in cases of emergency, doctors are required to perform a procedure “in the manner that, in reasonable medical judgment, provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive.” 

In other words, deliver the baby, even though, at 20 weeks gestation, you’re looking at a 100 percent death rate anyway. While this move won’t save any fetal lives, it would force women to terminate their pregnancies in the most miserable way possible, then wait while doctors run around trying to save an unsaveable baby, racking up thousands of dollars in unnecessary medical expenses. This is, remember, for women who generally wanted their babies, but had to terminate for medical reasons. No level of cruelty, these days, is too much to put women in their place.