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.

Photo: "Portrait of tired businesswoman with face in palms," via Shutterstock.


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A huge win, it's also just a hit on the pause button. Here's some context and ideas about paths forward.

The reach of this story extends from the lowliest working stiff to the highest court in the land.

White supremacist posters on campuses play on ignorance and fear within the very institutions that should be our...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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