Woman Alleges Republican Candidate Paid for Her Abortion

Emily Douglas

Paying for sex or drugs can sink a politician's career -- but what about paying for an abortion?

Paying for sex or drugs can sink a politician’s career — but what about paying for an abortion?

An unnamed Oregon woman alleges that anti-abortion Republican Congressional candidate Mike Erickson encouraged her to have an abortion after she became pregnant, drove her to an abortion clinic for her appointment, and paid for her abortion. “Not only did he pick me up and drove me to the
abortion clinic, he completely encouraged me to do that,” the woman told the Portland Tribune.

This isn’t the first time this issue has come to light. The woman and a friend of hers, Kristi Oetken, considered publicizing this allegation in 2006, when Oregon Right to Life endorsed Erickson’s first run for Congress, but didn’t end up granting interviews on the story. Recently, Erickson’s opponent, Republican Kevin Mannix, referred to the incident in campaign materials, provoking the woman and her friend to conduct interviews with local media.

Erickson’s campaign has referred to the allegations as a "smear tactics and wild accusations," and claimed that Mannix, running behind Erickson, had become "desperate." Oregon Right to Life political director Lois Anderson met with the woman in 2006 and felt that both the she and Erickson were credible. "As idiotic as it sounds, they were both very credible,” Anderson said.

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Roundup: Media Says Every Woman Regrets Her Abortion — No Exceptions

Robin Marty

According to the media, every unintended pregnancy is the result of a careless woman, and every woman secretly wanted someone to force her keep the baby.

It’s become a non-stop theme now that every woman regrets her abortion, regardless of if she says so or not.  And it’s a theme that the media seems intent on pushing.

Recently, Abby Wisse Schachter wrote in the New York Post that abortion should always carry a stigma.  Now, after getting response back from Planned Parenthood that a woman should not feel shame over something that is best for her and her family, Wisse Schachter counters by totally changing the subject:

If we agree that the goal is to reduce the need for abortion, and Planned Parenthood is interested in having women make the best decision available to them, why isn’t choosing not to abort one of the options listed here? It seems possible, and even likely, that for some woman, somewhere, some of the time, staying pregnant and, say, giving the child up for adoption might actually be a better choice than abortion. And yet, according to this organization, such a choice is never the best option.

The reason that it isn’t mentioned as an option, of course, is because Wisse Schachter was originally discussing why all women should feel ashamed of having an abortion, regardless of if it is in their best interest or not, not “all women should be stigmatized for having a pregnancy they don’t want, regardless of what they intend to do with it.”

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But maybe that’s really whatWisse Schachter meant?  If so, perhaps she should just come out and say it, like Valerie Ulene does in the Los Angeles Times:

For women, the consequences of an unintended pregnancy are obvious. But there are consequences for the baby as well. Women who aren’t actively trying to conceive may not recognize that they’re pregnant immediately — and, as a result, would be more likely to engage in potentially risky behaviors like drinking and smoking during the first few weeks of fetal development. Prenatal care, meanwhile, is often delayed. “The risk for damage is significant,” Nettleman says. A 2009 study she authored found that women who were late in learning that they were pregnant were more likely to have babies who are born prematurely.

Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix. “Some unintended pregnancies will be with us always,” Nettleman says. “It’s a complex issue. Simply telling women to straighten up and fly right isn’t the answer.”

Undoubtedly, women need to be better educated about birth control and its proper use. And more acceptable methods of contraception — ones that have fewer side effects and are more convenient to use — must be developed. But straightening up and flying right is part of the solution too.

With few exceptions, unintended pregnancies are not “accidents.” They are predictable consequences of having sex without contraception.

But in case you haven’t caught on yet, every unintended pregnancy is the result of an irresponsible woman, and apparently if you look inside the head of every woman seeking an abortion, she secretly just wanted someone to tell her she had to keep the baby.  Or so says The Guardian. From the article titled “What I’m Really Thinking: The Abortion Patient”

There isn’t a choice: I am an unemployed recent graduate barely able to afford the pregnancy test, with a boyfriend on bar wages. But after the scan, I want the nurse to find some unfathomable medical reason why termination isn’t an option, so I’d be justified in keeping a child I don’t want to lose but can’t really provide for.

Got it?  No wonder everyone thinks every woman is ashamed.

Mini Roundup: Can someone please explain “temporary sterilization” to me?  And if it’s voluntary, isn’t that what we are asking for in adding free birth control to preventative care?

November 15, 2010

November 14, 2010

November 13, 2010

Mainstream Media Reinforces Unexamined Arguments Against Public Funding for Abortion

Amanda Marcotte

Will abortion be the magic bullet that kills off health care reform? Mainstream media seems to be doing its best to make it happen.

Will abortion be the magic bullet that kills off health care reform?  Certainly it seems that mainstream media sources—the same ones that are pushing the idea that health care reform is dead, in a classic “tell a lie until it’s true” maneuver—believe that abortion is an effective cudgel to beat health care reform to death.  (Why there’s strong motivation to kill health care reform is a topic for another day—my pet theory is that many pundits are angry with Democrats for making them cover complicated policy issues, when they’d rather be talking about what Sonia Sotomayor is wearing and whether or not Regina Benjamin is too fat.)  

Sunday afternoon, I plugged the word “abortion” into Google News to see what I got back.  Just the word “abortion”, with no other terms like “health care”, and the first hit was 13,000 stories about abortion and health care reform.  And sadly, there was rampant disregard, and in some cases, open contempt for the truth of the situation.

Here’s the unvarnished truth: There is no way that any kind of public health care plan will have elective abortion coverage.  Nor is there any real chance of abortion becoming mandated coverage.  It’s more likely that breast implants will be paid for by tax money.  It’s more likely that a public insurance option will provide everyone with an iPod Touch.  Believe me; even most pro-choicers gave up a long time ago on hoping that we could overturn the Hyde Amendment that bans women who are on federally funded insurance programs from getting elective abortions covered, and there’s no way that this will change if the number of women on federally funded health insurance grows. And even though it would only be fair and cost-effective to mandate coverage for elective abortion, in this country that’s sadly a pipe dream.

But you wouldn’t know it to read the media coverage of this issue.  Instead, we’ve got the toxic mixture of pants-on-fire lying anti-choicers and cowardly media outlets that give the opponents of health care reform an opportunity to lie about the potential for taxpayer-funded abortions. Fox News, of course, has been at the forefront of promoting the absolutely evidence-free assertion that there’s any chance of abortion becoming mandated coverage, but I’ve also been surprised to see NPR allow Douglas Johnson of National Right To Life lie, stating, “And there is no doubt whatever that abortion, elective abortion, would be among those services mandated.”  Though I shouldn’t have been surprised—the lazy reliance on “some people say X/some people say Y” journalism has created a situation where all sorts of people who view the truth as a mere obstacle get to go on TV and the radio and lie without being confronted about it.

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One thing that makes pushing back against the abortion narrative that’s forming in the mainstream media is that health care defenders— including President Obama—are so busy trying to shut down the misinformation about abortion coverage that we’re not having the more interesting discussion about whether or not abortion should be covered.  And by not having that discussion, we’re allowing the belief that some people’s moral objections to abortion should dictate federal policy lay unchallenged.

Jamison Foser of Media Matters wrote
a thought-provoking article about how the common wisdom has come to
support the idea of bans on federal funding of abortion coverage, and
the lapse of professional responsibility that allows journalists to
perpetuate this common wisdom.  He points to the privileging of
opposition to abortion over support for abortion rights as the cause:

Instead, Matthews has adopted the premise that taxpayer funds shouldn’t be used to pay for abortions, no matter how indirectly, because some taxpayers believe abortion to be immoral. On Wednesday’s Hardball, for example, Matthews asked Obama adviser David Axelrod: "[I]f the federal government spends money on abortions, that means people who believe abortion is evil would be forced to have their tax money go to pay for abortions. How do you justify that?"

That premise is only superficially compelling, and has no business underlying an impartial news report. After all, millions of Americans believe the death penalty and wars of choice are immoral. But the moral beliefs of pacifists and death penalty opponents are not granted the privilege the media grants opposition to legal abortion — and so you rarely see a news report premised on the idea that taxpayer funding for war or capital punishment is inappropriate.

The whole article beyond just this excerpt is compelling, so I highly recommend it.  I’m going to agree with Foser that the assumption that anti-choicers are the ones who have “morality” (as if putting yourself out there in defense of women’s lives, as pro-choicers do, isn’t moral) feeds this.  But I think there’s more to the story than that.  And I think it’s because war and the death penalty aren’t about sex, and so they aren’t as interesting to people.

Or, to put it another way, war and the death penalty are grim things that we like to pretend that proponents don’t enjoy.  (Not likely true in the case of the likes of Dick Cheney, but for the sake of the argument.)  Opponents of using taxpayer money to kill real people can’t get around the assumption that war and death penalty supporters are serious people who have at least considered the moral weight of taking human lives.

But I suspect that anti-choicers latched onto taxpayer-funded abortions, because they can count on a lot of the public to imagine the government funding female licentiousness.  Anger about (purely imaginary) taxpayer-funded abortion has more in common with anger about (also imaginary) “welfare queens”, who are also constructed as sexual deviants who use government money to fund their sex lives. I’m reminded of Bill O’Reilly’s rant against insurance companies covering contraception, where he compared covering contraception to paying for women’s dinner dates.  
Rarely do anti-choicers leaning on this stereotype of sexual women as frivolous and amoral need to actually say it as bluntly as O’Reilly did. 

But this ongoing belief that a woman who sees action between her thighs has none going on in her head is the constant fuel in the abortion debate fire, no matter what the flavor of the debate is this month. But the good news is that this contempt for female sexuality has receded enough that the media debate hasn’t—yet—turned to whether or not health care reform should cover contraception.

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