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The history of menstruation, the political prejudices against scientific information on the HPV vaccine, and fighting against the Hyde Amendment, all on this week’s podcast.
Links in this episode:
On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be interviewing Elisa
Stein about the history of menstruation.
Also, can anger about Stupak-Pitts be marshaled to push back against the
Hyde Amendment? And I also have a
segment on how pre-existing prejudice about health and sexuality determine
people’s opinions on the HPV vaccine.
So, this is kind of weird. Blue Mass Group discovered a 2008 video of teabagger beloved
candidate Scott Brown implying that Barack Obama was born out of wedlock.
I hate things like this, because by demanding that Brown
apologize, you kind of imply that it matters. And it shouldn’t matter if a President’s parents were
married or not.
Despite baffling statements like this, the voters of
Massachusetts handed Scott Brown the seat Ted Kennedy had held since 1962.
From the beginning, one of the major problems I had with the
push to maintain the so-called status quo on abortion in health care reform was
that it seemed like doing that instead of pushing back against the
already-existing ban on federal abortion spending under the Hyde Amendment was
fundamentally unfair. The status
quo would mean that women that were in the private insurance circuit, which
means they’re not at the bottom economic rung, would have access to abortion
coverage and women on Medicaid would not.
And it seems very unfeminist to leave out the most vulnerable among us.
Plus, abandoning the issue allowed the right wingers to move the bill to the
right and eliminate the ability of private insurance to offer funding.
It’s true that most of the women that will be negatively
affected by Stupak-Pitts are lower income women, so as far as that goes, the
outcry over this has been heartening.
But it’s not enough, not if we don’t go after the Hyde Amendment. And that’s because even without
Stupak-Pitts, the Hyde Amendment will hurt millions of women.
- hyde 1
That was from a video put out by the Center for Reproductive
Rights. Full disclosure: I’m in
the video myself. The good news is
that the Center has decided that we need to move past just talking about
Stupak-Pitts and start talking about the entire logic behind restricting
abortion funding, and attack the Hyde Amendment straight on. And so they asked us what we don’t want
our tax money spent on, which is only fair. Why should anti-choicers get special treatment?
- hyde 2
Those are just some of the ones they gathered. If you go to the link in the show notes,
you’ll find instructions on submitting one of your own.
What’s made me really happy is that the Center for
Reproductive Rights aren’t the only ones who are seeing the bigger picture
here. This whole debacle is
causing a whole lot of people to talk about reproductive justice and how a
woman’s inability to scrounge up $500 in short order shouldn’t mean she should
be forced to give birth against her will.
"Making Contact" of the National Radio Project dealt with
the issue of how the original sin that’s created this mess is the Hyde
Amendment, and how the Hyde Amendment continues to hurt women.
- hyde 3
According to the National Network of Abortion Funds, it’s
estimated that one in three low income women who want an abortion are instead
forced to give birth against their will because they can’t afford it. That’s an unbelievable human rights
violation in what’s supposed to be a pro-choice era. Singling out poor women for forced pregnancy because they’re
poor is not the America I was brought up to believe in. There’s no other way for me to put
that, even if it sounds extreme.
Taking the time to look at the big picture isn’t just
limited to looking at the Hyde Amendment, either. Lynn Paltrow was on Grit TV, and she talked about how
abortion is used as a cover to attack women’s health and rights in
- hyde 4
And just to prove how true this was, Laura Flanders played
this anti-choice video clip:
- hyde 5
Any fool can tell you that there is more to reproductive
health care than abortion—it includes Pap smears, contraception, prenatal
care, childbirth care, and other gynecological care. By calling all of this "abortion", fanatical anti-choicers
have basically declared open season on women’s right to health care. Makes you wonder how exactly they’re
different from the Taliban that banned all women’s health care that involved a
doctor actually seeing a woman’s body.
Means sacrificing women’s lives for this fanatical hatred of female
Thanks to the National Science Foundation for both having Yale University Law professor Dr. Dan Kahan on their webcast to
talk about the political controversy over the HPV vaccine, and for alerting me
to the existence of this webcast.
It was really interesting information. Dr. Kahan and his colleagues created a survey of 1,500
people to figure out who was scared of the HPV vaccine, and what their general
attitudes were that might lead them to be afraid of the vaccine. What they found shouldn’t be too
- hpv 1 *
What’s interesting to me is that until
recently, the link between right wing nuttery and anti-scientific thinking was
not so firm. Even now, most
anti-vaccination nuttery comes from the left, except when it comes to the HPV
vaccine, which is a right wing hysteria issue. But increasingly, you’re seeing the right wing just take a
more generalized anti-science stance, especially on issues that they see as being
in conflict with their values.
Research that leads to better, more effectively lethal weapons will
never be questioned, but here you have a vaccine that will save the lives of
sexually active women, and we can’t have that!
The team assembled used the standard
measurement system to determine someone’s political values, which are measured
on two spectrums: one that measures if you’re more authoritarian or
egalitarian, and one that measures if you’re more oriented towards community
solutions or if you see the world as every man for himself. What they found was that your values
influenced how open you were to accepting scientific evidence about the HPV
- hpv 2 *
Again, nothing surprising there. What it does make me realize, however,
is why there are some people on the left who have gotten all bent out of shape
about vaccines, even though that sort of thing would generally be seen as a
more right wing inclination. And
it really goes back to that individual initiative, which is a nice way of saying
that some people believe they’ll be safe if they have a highly moralistic
behavior pattern and that they don’t need others to help them because of
this. A lot of left wing types who
fear vaccines that I’ve met have basically said that you don’t need vaccines if
you eat right and avoid promiscuous sex.
This is of course untrue, but it really shows why they might think that
getting a vaccine is some sort of judgment on their morals, instead of just a
basic precaution. But they’re
still on the left, because they’re more egalitarian and less authoritarian.
One of the most interesting findings of
the study was that if you put the information in the mouth of an expert that
people find culturally agreeable, then that can often completely reverse their
normal inclinations. The
implications of this study are dire.
- hpv 3 *
Does that mean that it’s hopeless, that
anti-scientific right wingers are going to hijack the discussion about HPV to
the point that CDC recommendations that could effectively make cervical cancer
a thing of the past will never get enacted? Dr. Kahan does have one idea how to get around this problem.
- hpv 4 *
It’s a really good idea, but in order
to get there, you need to drum those people up. On some issues, that’s not a problem, but when it comes to
women’s health care, the distaste for women’s health is often perceived as a
value that makes someone trustworthy on the right. Appearing to care too much for women can undermine their
authority. On this issue, however,
it may be somewhat doable—it’s at least worth trying to recruit some right
wingers who are predisposed to really hate cervical cancer to speak out on this
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, zombie lies edition. Sarah Palin will not stop lying about
death panels being in the health care bill.
- palin *
Notice the lie by implication built in
by Sean Hannity? By using the word
"still", he implies there ever were death panels. There weren’t.
Then Sarah Palin drops two doozy lies, one by claiming the Brits have
death panels and that we modeled this bill after England. Both are outrageous lies. The Brits do not kill off their
elderly. And they have a single payer system, which wasn’t even considered
during the debate in this country.