Another half-baked front group with most favored wingnut status: Choose Life Wisconsin

Welcome to yet another post on yet another anti-abortion piece of legislation taken up by our state despite the fact that Governor Scott Walker says nobody talks to him about these issues and alllllll he cares about are jobs.*

Yesterday I attended the latter half of a hearing on a bill to allow a Wisconsinite to voluntarily select a “CHOOSE LIFE” vehicle license plate, the proceeds of which go to an organization called “Choose Life Wisconsin”. [AB 206]

According to Isthmus, “three speakers spoke in support of the Choose Life bill and one in opposition. But 66 individuals registered against the bill, while only one person — Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin), the sponsor of the bill’s Senate counterpart (SB 176), registered in favor.”

Choose Life Wisconsin may sound like a suicide prevention group but it is in fact a corporation with Julianne Appling acting as president. You may know Ms. Appling from her attempts to fight all things gay such as when she urged members of her group Wisconsin Family Action to shut down a drag show in Appleton due to its “shameful display of sexual immorality”.

When Ms. Appling is not busy defending her title as “Wisconsin’s biggest homophobe“, she is testifying in favor of anything that restricts abortion access such as the transvag. ultrasound bill. I bet very few people know that Appling was busy helping to coordinate housing for busloads of anti-choice students from MN, WI, MI, IL, IN, and OH to help Walker win the recall last June in what 1 organizer called a ‘mini summer pro-life vacation’.

(Incidentally, Appling helped that drag show become a big hit.)

Judging by the testimony presented by Nora Cusack yesterday this Choose Life license plate legislation is yet another shady deal hastily tossed together to fund a political group with most-favored wingnut status. If that reminds you of that Sportsmen grant mess that Associated Press tidied up, well – good. It should.

Cusack, treasurer of the charitable organization Women’s Medical Fund, Inc., testified that “Choose Life Wisconsin” lacks

* explicit purposes or bylaws
* a charitable organization designation
* officers or board members (required by law for Wisconsin corporations)
* any filing of an IRS 990 (the non-stock corporation lacked corporation was initially registered in March of 2012)

See Cusack’s testimony in full at this PDF link

She mentioned the United Sportsmen debacle two times during her testimony – testimony that I would describe as even-keeled in tone and not inflammatory. Immediately after the 1st mention of the words “United Sportsmen” Representative Ott yelled “Chair!” I assume Ott believed the Chair would gavel Cusack into submission and silence or call for a black-gloved Capitol Constable to carry her to the basement. There was a pause and then Cusack continued unruffled.

According to the press, Julianne Appling said in testimony that “Choose Life’s application for recognition as an exempt organization is pending with the Internal Revenue Service.” Appling has stated that $25 donations accepted with each “Choose Life” plate request would fund pregnancy centers across the state – something NOT spelled out in the bill.

It IS spelled out in an amendment to the bill that the initial production of the plates will be funded by Marquette University or ‘other persons’. Bit of pertinent trivia here: Scott Walker was the president of Marquette U. Students for Life in his youth.

Let’s say you and I, dear readers, quit being such poindexters and quit with the worry about details and assume the plate money DOES all go to Appling’s centers. We still have cause for concern because if past trends continue, those will be centers for pregnancy reeducation misinformation.

In 2011 and 2012, Pro-Choice Wisconsin investigated Crisis Pregnancy Centers across Wisconsin and released a report (they are also referred to as “CPCs”).

CPC results

Some of my readers may be a bit reserved in their support for abortion rights, perhaps sticking with the motto “abortion should be rare, safe, and legal”.

That provides no pass to ignore this outbreak of outrageousness.
I mean come on.
They’re telling women abortion causes breast cancer?

As you can see from the map below, CPCs are not rare in Wisconsin.

cpc map wisconsin

The number of CPCs is already through the roof.
If AB 206 goes through, these misinformation centers are going to spring up on corners like so many Starbucks. Is this really what everybody wants? And how can it be fair to the public that our state is collecting money to promote an anti-abortion viewpoint and false health information AND on behalf of an outfit led by a notorious bigot and shamer?

Viewpoint Discrimination

There may be a legal remedy forthcoming if this goes through. (If nothing else Walker’s posse makes plenty of work for lawyers.)

Issuance of similar plates was halted in North Carolina by a federal judge who ruled that they support “viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.” The N.C. bill will be taken up again this Fall in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

But no guarantees. According to wikipedia, “Choose Life” plates are already legal in 29 states.

Therefore, I say it is THE time to connect with a NOW chapter in your neck of the Wisconsin woods. NOW was quite active in getting information out on this hearing. Here’s the link to their site.

Now’s the time for women of Wisconsin to wake up, work together, and stop the spread of healthcare half-truths from the right wing’s half-baked.


Video note: Nobody talks to Scott Walker about contraception and abortion? Then I wonder how Walker was endorsed by Wisconsin Right to Life – which will only endorse politicians who are against not only abortion but also against contraception and against stem cell research. And I do then wonder why he recently signed the transvaginal ultrasound bill.

Is it just me or is there a “HIS ‘N’ HERS” vibe around these thinly veiled state-funded poliTRICKS? Like did somebody say, “We need a hunting grant for the fellas and a license plate for the ladies” ??

More reading on this to be found at Isthmus:
Questions raised about Choose Life Wisconsin group formed to funnel license plate fees to crisis pregnancy centers by
Ben Siegel


One thought on “Another half-baked front group with most favored wingnut status: Choose Life Wisconsin

  1. Did you know that Tea Party Kim Simac’s kid, Tea Party James Maillette, JR, is now EVP for WiFamilyAction? Appling and Maillette are pushing the antiabortion, anti-gay & anti-immigrant crap. Also, these WiFamilyAction messages are spread to other radical snake huggers via I’d say the IRS would look at all those political messages on that blog and claim that Ms. Simac and her son are not running a legitimate 501(c)(4)

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