Letter to the Editor: Refuting Marcotte

Kirsten Powers Makary

Amanda's Marcotte's piece "Refuting Powers: Many Obstacles to Contraceptive Access"  claimed that I wrote in a recent column that "contraception...may in fact cause abortion."  This is quite a doozy.

This Letter to the Editor responds to a recent column by Rewire contributing writer Amanda Marcotte.  Rewire welcomes letters to the editor and articles written continuing debates and discussions published by us.  We are soon to launch a redesigned site in which a separate section for LTEs and other categories will be included.

Dear Editor:

Amanda’s Marcotte’s piece “Refuting Powers: Many Obstacles to Contraceptive Access”  claimed that I wrote in a recent column that “contraception…may in fact cause abortion.”  This is quite a doozy.

I not only never said this, but in fact said the opposite. In referring to a study that found an increase in the abortion rate as contraceptive use rose, I wrote:  “This doesn’t mean that access to contraception causes more abortion—though some believe that—but that it doesn’t necessarily reduce it.” 

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Marcotte also claimed on your site that, “Kirsten Powers would have you believe everyone who struggles with work schedules, child care or transportation, or funding is just stupid and lazy.”

I’m curious on what basis she makes this claim?  If you read my column, you will see that I never touch on this issue even tangentially and I can assure you I hold no such view.  Amanda Marcotte made this up from whole cloth.  This should be concerning to you, especially considering your stated journalistic standards.

I always welcome feedback and criticism on my columns, but I do ask that it somehow relates to what I actually wrote. 

Thank you for your time.

Best,
Kirsten Powers

Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: More Pushback Against Criminalizing the Poor

Jessica Mason Pieklo & Imani Gandy

In both Virginia and Missouri, efforts are underway to end practices of jailing people over outstanding court fees.

Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts.

At Slate, Dahlia Lithwick reports on a new federal class action suit targeting a Virginia scheme that, advocates claim, bilks the poor by suspending the driver’s license of those unable to pay certain court fees.

Jennings, Missouri, has agreed to pay almost $5 million to nearly 2,000 people who were put in jail because they couldn’t afford to pay the court fines and fees that they owed.

Meanwhile, the Virginia Supreme Court will hear arguments in a Republican challenge to restoring the voting rights of formerly incarcerated people. At issue is whether the Virginia Constitution allows the governor to restore those voting rights en masse or on a case-by-case basis.

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Congratulations to the Washington Supreme Court for appointing its first woman clerk. Ever. In the history of the court. Slow clap for y’all.

The American Prospect interviewed NARAL Pro-Choice America’s Ilyse Hogue on what pro-choice advocates see as the coming fights over abortion rights and access post-Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. 

Nina Martin has a great read on four of the ways research has changed the abortion debate.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) has agreed not to enforce a state campaign finance law, which conservative groups like Right to Life say violates the First Amendment by requiring nonprofits to report supporters’ private information.

Rewire alum Aimee Arrambide has co-authored an op-ed with Gloria Totten about Texas’ new frontier in harassing women: requiring fetal remains to be cremated or buried.

Amanda Marcotte writes about the Center for Medical Progress’ smear campaign against Planned Parenthood and how it succeeded only in embarrassing conservatives.

Check out the National Abortion Federation’s timeline of the Center for Medical Progress attacks against abortion providers.

Even the generally conservative Wall Street Journal thinks the Republican refusal to hold hearings and a vote on Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court is terrible for democracy.

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Trump Selects Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to Join His Ticket

Ally Boguhn

And in other news, Donald Trump suggested that he can relate to Black people who are discriminated against because the system has been rigged against him, too. But he stopped short of saying he understood the experiences of Black Americans.

Donald Trump announced this week that he had selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) to join him as his vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket, and earlier in the week, the presumptive presidential nominee suggested to Fox News that he could relate to Black Americans because the “system is rigged” against him too.

Pence Selected to Join the GOP Ticket 

After weeks of speculation over who the presumptive nominee would chose as his vice presidential candidate, Trump announced Friday that he had chosen Pence.

“I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate,” Trump tweeted Friday morning, adding that he will make the official announcement on Saturday during a news conference.

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The presumptive Republican nominee was originally slated to host the news conference Friday, but postponed in response to Thursday’s terrorist attack in Nice, France. As late as Thursday evening, Trump told Fox News that he had not made a final decision on who would join his ticket—even as news reports came in that he had already selected Pence for the position.

As Rewire Editor in Chief Jodi Jacobson explained in a Thursday commentary, Pence “has problems with the truth, isn’t inclined to rely on facts, has little to no concern for the health and welfare of the poorest, doesn’t understand health care, and bases his decisions on discriminatory beliefs.” Jacobson further explained: 

He has, for example, eagerly signed laws aimed at criminalizing abortion, forcing women to undergo unnecessary ultrasounds, banning coverage for abortion care in private insurance plans, and forcing doctors performing abortions to seek admitting privileges at hospitals (a requirement the Supreme Court recently struck down as medically unnecessary in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case). He signed a ‘religious freedom’ law that would have legalized discrimination against LGBTQ persons and only ‘amended’ it after a national outcry. Because Pence has guided public health policy based on his ‘conservative values,’ rather than on evidence and best practices in public health, he presided over one of the fastest growing outbreaks of HIV infection in rural areas in the United States.

Trump Suggests He Can Relate to Black Americans Because “Even Against Me the System Is Rigged”

Trump suggested to Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that he could relate to the discrimination Black Americans face since “the system [was] rigged” against him when he began his run for president.

When asked during a Tuesday appearance on The O’Reilly Factor what he would say to those “who believe that the system is biased against them” because they are Black, Trump leaped to highlight what he deemed to be discrimination he had faced. “I have been saying even against me the system is rigged. When I ran … for president, I mean, I could see what was going on with the system, and the system is rigged,” Trump responded.

“What I’m saying [is] they are not necessarily wrong,” Trump went on. “I mean, there are certain people where unfortunately that comes into play,” he said, concluding that he could “relate it, really, very much to myself.”

When O’Reilly asked Trump to specify whether he truly understood the “experience” of Black Americans, Trump said that he couldn’t, necessarily. 

“I would like to say yes, but you really can’t unless you are African American,” said Trump. “I would like to say yes, however.”

Trump has consistently struggled to connect with Black voters during his 2016 presidential run. Despite claiming to have “a great relationship with the blacks,” the presumptive Republican nominee has come under intense scrutiny for using inflammatory rhetoric and initially failing to condemn white supremacists who offered him their support.

According to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released Tuesday, Trump is polling at 0 percent among Black voters in the key swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

What Else We’re Reading

Newt Gingrich, who was one of Trump’s finalists for the vice presidential spot, reacted to the terrorist attack in Nice, France, by calling for all those in the United States with a “Muslim background” to face a test to determine if they “believe in sharia” and should be deported.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton threw her support behind a public option for health insurance.

Bloomberg Politics’ Greg Stohr reports that election-related cases—including those involving voter-identification requirements and Ohio’s early-voting period—are moving toward the Supreme Court, where they are “risking deadlocks.”

According to a Reuters review of GOP-backed changes to North Carolina’s voting rules, “as many as 29,000 votes might not be counted in this year’s Nov. 8 presidential election if a federal appeals court upholds” a 2013 law that bans voters from casting ballots outside of their assigned precincts.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the election goals and strategies of anti-choice organization Susan B. Anthony List, explaining that the organization plans to work to ensure that policy goals such as a 20-week abortion ban and defunding Planned Parenthood “are the key issues that it will use to rally support for its congressional and White House candidates this fall, following recent setbacks in the courts.”

Multiple “dark money” nonprofits once connected to the Koch brothers’ network were fined by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) this week after hiding funding sources for 2010 political ads. They will now be required to “amend past FEC filings to disclose who provided their funding,” according to the Center for Responsive Politics. 

Politico’s Matthew Nussbaum and Ben Weyl explain how Trump’s budget would end up “making the deficit great again.”

“The 2016 Democratic platform has the strongest language on voting rights in the party’s history,” according to the Nation’s Ari Berman.