Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
A lot of people in Wisconsin got cabin fever over the last few days, as record low temperatures kept kids home from school, pipes froze, and regular business pretty much ground to a halt. Still, I bet not too many spent those dreary days dreaming up dystopian fantasies about their neighbors plotting to kill baby girls.
Except, of course, for Senator Glenn Grothman, Republican of West Bend.
While everyone else was housebound on Monday, January 6, Grothman issued a press release demanding that his colleagues take up a bill to ban sex-selective abortion, and another bill that blocks abortion coverage in state health care plans and allows religious organizations not to cover contraception.
But what really got Grothman's undies in a bundle was the issue of sex selection and the nefarious plot to do away with little girls all over our fair state by Democrats, Planned Parenthood and Asian immigrants.
Confused? You just don't understand the despicable logic behind all of this.
"Currently, there are large numbers of sex-selective abortions in India, China and Korea," Grothman explains in his press release. "As immigrants from these countries move to America, evidence shows they are continuing these practices from their native lands."
Will we soon see the tiny bodies of baby girls littering the hillsides of Wisconsin farms and rural routes, left out to die from exposure (also a practice in cultures that prize sons and don't value daughters)? Not if Glenn Grothman gets his way! But first, Planned Parenthood must be stopped.
"Planned Parenthood publicly opposes a bill to bar sex-selection abortions," Grothman points out. (That's because, the group's legislative staff explain, there is no evidence that sex-selection abortion is actually a problem, and Grothman's bill would put the burden on doctors to ensure that an abortion was not for the purpose of sex selection -- an intrusive requirement which, like so many phony concerns regulating abortion, really just make abortions harder to get.)
Invoking Margaret Sanger's pro-eugenics views from a century ago, Grothman suggests that Planned Parenthood is actually pushing sex selection abortions.
"I am afraid, because of the historic racism of Planned Parenthood, they can be expected to encourage this practice, rather than educate our immigrants on American respect for women," he wrote.
From there, it is just a short hop to Grothman's dreadful conclusion: "If one would have told me, even 15 years ago, that it would become mainstream Democrat thinking to bring China's sex-selective abortion policies to our shores I would have never believed them."
Geez, and you thought our problems were mainly just the weather and Wisconsin's lousy economy, especially compared to our Democratic-led neighbor to the North, Minnesota. Wonder what they think about the sex-selection abortion problem up there?
Grothman's press release took aim at his colleague Senator Jon Erpenbach, Democrat of Middleton, who made an infuriating -- to Grothman -- remark that if the Republicans tried to ram through more items on their anti-choice wish list in this session, they could expect "all-out hell."
Grothman made a plea for "civility" from Erpenbach -- and, presumably, from the baby killers at Planned Parenthood, and those suspicious Asians who haven't learned how to respect women.
Erpenbach should "back off his pledge to cause 'all-out hell'" if the bills are brought to the floor, Grothman wrote.
Erpenbach issued a statement in response:
"Senator Grothman's assertions in his press release are ridiculous and need no further comment," Erpenbach wrote. "As for the process, he should direct his frustration to those that actually schedule bills for floor; Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Senate President Mike Ellis."
It turns out, you see, that it's the Republican leadership in the state -- not the shadowy coalition of Democrats, Planned Parenthood, and Asian immigrants -- who are blocking Grothman's best efforts to accomplish the entire right-to-life wish list this session.
Mike Ellis, the Republican leader in the state senate, is particularly impatient with the wingnuts in his caucus, and has refused to even consider Grothman's pet legislative efforts.
Wisconsin continues to lag the whole region in job creation, there is a war going on over voucherizing the public schools and the public is getting less patient with the single-minded abortion obsession of some state legislators.
That didn't stop the righ-to-lifers from passing a completely unnecessary and onerous local hospital admitting requirement for the state's abortion doctors. But that measure is now hung up in court.
A long floor session during which women in the state legislature stood up and told their personal reproductive health stories to their squirmy male colleagues further dampened Republican enthusiasm for taking the anti-abortion, anti-birth control, anti-women's reproductive health ball to the hoop.
That's what Erpenbach meant by all-out hell: an all-out disaster, politically, for the Republicans.
Poor Glenn Grothman. It's a lonely battle. But for now he's on his own defending the baby girls of Wisconsin from mass extinction.