A lineup of prominent state and national pro-life speakers, including Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, had their “Abortion is not health care” message shouted down in Madison Tuesday, with exchanges between opposing sides at one point nearly coming to blows.
The Susan B. Anthony List anti-abortion bus tour through five key swing states in advance of the November elections made its most controversial stop yet, at James Madison Park. A crowd of roughly 50 supporters who gathered around the bus found themselves besieged by a small but vocal group of pro-choice advocates.
“Only in Madison,” Sue Armacost, Wisconsin Right to Life’s political action committee director, told the crowd before making her prepared statements.
The local stop to campaign against President Barack Obama, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and other Democrats' so-called “extreme and radical” pro-choice agenda quickly was transformed by pro-choice forces to include the national abortion-related news of the week.
Shouts of “Akin, Akin, Akin!” were among the first wave of chants by pro-choice supporters, who were initially led by provocative local radio talk show host John "Sly" Sylvester.
Shouts of “Republicans suck!” and “Shame, shame!” soon followed from the roughly dozen protesters who encircled the crowd, drowning out the words of the intended speakers.
On Sunday, Missouri Rep. Todd Akin made national news when he said a woman’s body naturally takes care of ridding itself of a pregnancy that results from “legitimate rape.”
The comment catapulted the abortion topic into the presidential race as President Barack Obama quickly responded by calling Akin’s comments “offensive,” adding, “Rape is rape.”
Republicans were no more forgiving. From GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to Gov. Scott Walker, dozens called on Akin to quit his race for the U.S. Senate and Republican fundraising groups vowed to stop assisting Akin.
"Rep. Todd Akin's comments were ignorant at best and completely outrageous. For the good of his state and for the good of his party, he should step aside immediately and allow someone else to run," Walker said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
So far, Akin has refused.
And according to Politico, the Republican platform committee for the party's upcoming national convention approved an anti-abortion plank Tuesday that includes no exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother.
“Romney has voiced his support for an amendment that would ban abortions in all instances, even in cases of rape and incest, and Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, worked in the House to pass legislation to narrow the definition of ‘rape,’” said Gillian Morris, press secretary for Obama for America’s Wisconsin office, in a statement. “There is no question that the Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and GOP leadership are the ones that are too extreme on women’s health.”
(Romney's current abortion view includes exceptions for rape and incest and life endangerment.)
In Madison Tuesday, Kleefisch told the crowd she knows Wisconsin is a "pro-life state" that will stand against Obama and his agenda in November.
“I urge you to educate your friends and neighbors so President Obama and his radical agenda become a one-term administration,” she said.
Julaine Appling, the president of Wisconsin Family Action, and Armacost, of Wisconsin Right to Life, encouraged supporters to bring like-minded voters to the polls. Appling suggested 10 friends and Lyons upped the number to 25.
“The curtain has been pulled back. We will no longer buy the lie that abortion is health care,” Appling said. “When we adopt the idea that abortion is health care, we are literally killing the next generation. It’s murder. And it’s wrong.”
The Affordable Care Act, or so-called "Obamacare," does not require health plans offered by the state-run health care exchanges to provide abortion coverage. However, the act does mandate that within the exchanges there must be three types of plans available that address abortion.
According to the ACA, at least one plan must be offered that does not provide coverage for abortions.
One plan must cover abortions in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment, a provision known as the Hyde Amendment.
And one plan must cover abortions beyond the Hyde Amendment provisions.
For more on the message of the anti-abortion bus tour, click here.
The tour completed its three-city run through Wisconsin Tuesday, with stops in La Crosse and Waukesha. The bus now heads to cities in Ohio and Virginia before ending in Florida, just in time for the GOP National Convention in Tampa.