Despite His ‘Pro-Life’ Crusade, Scott Walker Goes After Pregnant Immigrant Women

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has been criticized for going after students, teachers, seniors, and poor people in his attempt to balance the state budget without raising taxes or fees.

ThinkProgress recently reported that Walker is also proposing to repeal Wisconsin’s Contraceptive Equity Law that requires insurance companies to cover prescription birth control. It turns out that while Walker wants to deny women the right to plan their future, he also wants to prevent undocumented women who are already pregnant from accessing prenatal care.

Walker’s prenatal care proposal contradicts his own anti-choice position which has essentially translated into a crusade against abortion. Walker has often described himself “100 percent pro-life” and opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest. “I believe in protecting life from conception to natural death,” states Walker on his website. As an assemblyman, Walker fought to ban “partial-birth” abortions that could save a mother’s life and prevent state and local government employees from “promoting, encouraging, or counseling in favor of abortion services.” During his campaign for governor, he made a pledge to Pro-Life Wisconsin, an organization that opposes abortion without exception, that he would seek an absolute ban on abortion.

Anti-choice groups have embraced Walker’s position on abortion, but they may not agree with his attack on undocumented women. Anti-abortion activists have often been staunch supports of ensuring that undocumented women have access to prenatal care assistance, arguing that it “improves the chances that a woman will choose to give birth rather than seek an abortion.”

When Nebraska debated the prenatal care issue, Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, stated, “We don’t accept that borders should be put ahead of babies.” In 2010, a local newspaper reported that at least seven women in Nebraska had abortions because they couldn’t afford the cost of prenatal care since the state stopped paying for it.

In the long term, Walker’s prenatal care proposal will probably cost Wisconsin more money than it saves. Undocumented women who choose to follow through with their pregnancies give birth to U.S. citizens who are entitled to benefits. Jennifer L. Howse of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation argues that “the cumulative weight of many studies is that prenatal care saves lives and money by reducing the number of babies born needing expensive neonatal care.” Dan Agin of the University of Chicago further notes that inadequate prenatal care is a tremendous health risk for both the mother and her child. “No pediatrician will deny this,” writes Agin.

Walker also wants to repeal in-state tuition for undocumented students and eliminate Food Share benefits for legal immigrants. He supports passing an enforcement-only immigration law modeled after Arizona’s that will likely cost his state millions of dollars.