Wisconsin’s “Mad As Hell” Rally A Call to Women Voters on Reproductive Rights

Tanya Atkinson, Executive Director of Wisconsin Planned Parenthood kicked off a rally of pro-choice, pro-women supporters on the steps of the state capital in Madison today with this simple and important call, “If you’re mad as hell, say hell yeah!”  The crowd of over 400 responded with an overwhelming, “Hell Yeah!”

They gathered on the west steps of the capitol to protest policies of the Republican-dominated legislature on the last day of this 2012 session.  

“We’re mad as hell today because here we are on the last day of the legislative session and our legislators have to jam every single anti-women’s health bill on the schedule today,” said Atkinson.

The three bills she is referring to are AB 337 which repeals the comprehensive sex ed Healthy Youth act allowing failed abstinence only programming into schools with medically- inaccurate information, AB 154 which bans private insurance coverage of abortion services and AB 371 which bans telemed abortion services as well as doubling down on an already existing “anti-coercion” statute.

The bills are assured passage and will go on to be signed by Governor Scott Walker who will face a recall election come late May or early June.

All though the rally may seemingly be coming too late, it is, as Lisa Subeck of NARAL Wisconsin calls it, “just a starting point.”  According to Subeck and representatives from Planned Parenthood and other organizations speaking today, the next logical – and imperative step – is to get women out to vote and to get them into office. 

Emerge Wisconsin is part of a national organization which exclusively trains Democratic female candidates to run for office at the state and local level.  Executive Director of Emerge WI Wendy Strout spoke to the alarming under-representation of women in the Wisconsin legislature, “Just here at the capital there is only twenty-five percent of the legislature is women and that is both parties.” Of course this is an issue that is nationwide.

Emerge Wisconsin’s success rate for propelling women into the state house is good. Strout told RH Reality Check that four women serving so far are, “Alumni of the Emerge Wisconsin program.”  Two won over incumbent GOP senators in Wisconsin’s legislative recall election. 

Atkinson speaking again to the crowd aptly said, “The great thing about women is we don’t just get angry, we take action.”  The first chance they will get will be in the recall of Governor Walker.  The exact date of the special election will be determined on Monday, March 19th.  

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