The Supreme Court upholds the ACA, and the right loses its minds. Darcy Burner speaks out about abortion, and Christine Overall asks you to think before you breed.
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On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll look at the Supreme Court’s decision on health care reform. Darcy Burner offends anti-choicers by talking about abortion openly, and Christine Overall will be on to discuss why we need to examine the choice to have children more closely.
I don’t think I had a chance to play this before, but I’m thrilled to note that Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood, gave us a shout out at Netroots Nation!
- Cecile *
Man, those were the good old days, weren’t they? Of just a couple of months ago.
We thought we were going to get the health care decision last Monday, but the Supreme Court instead decided to wait until Thursday to reveal their decision. I suppose they were trying to raise a bunch of journalists and activists blood pressure in order to make sure we really, really wanted health care, because their decision, frankly, ended up being something of a surprise.
- health care 1 *
There were three possibilities floated prior to this: complete overturn, end of the individual mandate, or nothing. What happened was a little different. The court basically redefined the mandate as a tax and upheld it. That doesn’t really change anything. Your taxes won’t go up so long as you have insurance, which makes it like having a mortgage deduction, except more universal. People who struggle now to pay for insurance will have a much better go of it in taxes, in fact, because they’ll be getting subsidies. Justice Roberts sided with the left of the court to uphold it. In one piece of bad news, the court did carve out a right for states to reject the Medicaid expansion that would have helped people that are above the official poverty line but still pretty poor.
Okay, with the basics out of the way, I know what you want to hear about: the utter and complete right wing meltdown over this. You would think a civil war was breaking out to hear them carry on. Limbaugh was reliable on the freak-out front.
- health care 2 *
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council had a nice, full-blown meltdown as well, with a rather interesting angle.
- health care 3 *
Let me translate wingnut-ese for you. “Strip you of your rights” can be understood as “your right to go to the doctor without worrying that The Poors are now going to be in the waiting room with you instead of dying in the street like God intended”. The claim that the government is going to “make your decisions for you” means that the government is going to allow other people to decide to go to the doctor now instead of force them not to because they can’t afford it. “Infringement on religious freedom” means their supposed freedom to keep you from accessing your contraception by keeping the price so high you can’t afford it. And by “time-bomb destruction of our nation”, he means that our nation is going to join every other industrialized nation in the world in making health care accessible to all its citizens. If you believe that our nation’s pride and crowning glory is the number of people we allow to get sick and die because they can’t afford health care, then I guess that’s the destruction of our nation. But if you think we shouldn’t let every other wealthy nation in the world beat us at providing health care, last week was a good week.
And one more that I really think captures how absolutely freaked out and befuddled the right was that they didn’t get to win this one. This was basically how Fox News sounded all day:
- health care 4 *
If you don’t buy a house and take a mortgage deduction, you essentially pay a tax. If you don’t have a child and take a dependent deduction, you essentially pay a tax. If they believe that being able to take a tax deduction to pay for these things makes this Russia—which isn’t a socialist nation, by the way, and hasn’t been for over 20 years—then we’ve been socialists ever since the first tax deduction was created.
One of the more interesting aspects of the right wing mentality that drives the anti-choice movement is how much emphasis is put on hypocrisy and secrecy and shame as if these things were values. Now, I think that it’s fine to believe that everything has its place, and I generally try to avoid talking about overly dark topics at cocktail parties and all that. But it’s interesting how much the right thinks it’s a given that if you’ve done something they consider dirty, like have sex or even—gasp!—have an abortion, you should make a big deal out of pretending like it never happened. I covered this last week with regards to the so-called sex education scandal, where it was clear parents thought the biggest problem was someone admitting out loud that oral and anal sex exist. I mean, obviously they know these things exist and probably do the acts themselves, but they were deeply invested in creating this cultural lie where everyone does it but we all pretend that we don’t. You know, even at the expense of the health and wellbeing of their children. You see the same logic working with people who say they don’t care if you’re gay but just don’t want you to “flaunt” it by, you know, actually being out of the closet like straight people take for granted.
It’s genuinely weird when you think about it, which is why this tendency to bully people into agreeing to a public lie is called the elephant-in-the-room problem, where the analogy holds that there’s a giant elephant in a room everyone is pretending not to see. More importantly, demanding that certain behaviors are constrained to the shadows makes it much easier to legislate against them for self-appointed moralists. That was very clear with sodomy laws and other anti-gay laws; because people were unwilling to admit in public that they are gay or that they have non-procreative sex, people who wanted to ban those things had very little opposition. It wasn’t until the closet door swung open that a human cost to these laws was understood and these laws were repealed.
I bring all this up to frame the story of Darcy Burner’s actions at Netroots Nation, actions which the right is trying to score points on and which we should resist their attempts to do so.
- darcy 1 *
What the right is hoping they can accomplish by fussing over this is to get the I’m-pro-choice-but people to assist them in creating a wall of silence around this issue that makes it harder to defend abortion rights. Sadly, as the church lady tone of the reporters in this broadcast make clear, it’s surprisingly easy to get a lot of people to believe that women should have access to abortion, but that they should be ashamed about their slutty ways and never admit their abortions in public. But the problem with that is like with the gay closet: People who want to pass laws against you benefit strongly if no one will speak up. If you put a face on the people who will go to jail under these new laws, it becomes much harder to pass the law. Which is why it’s unsurprising to hear anti-choicers try to make hay over this.
- darcy 2 *
It couldn’t be more obvious that this isn’t about “life” for this guy, but about sexual shame. That’s the framework he’s employing here. If you substitute the word “adultery” for “abortion” in his little rant, that all becomes super clear. The problem is that adultery is not illegal and not really restricted, and unlike abortion, it’s actually a betrayal of another person. The whole narrative of “encouraging” abortion makes no kind of sense. It’s like saying you’re encouraging root canals; abortion is inherently a response behavior and so the only thing that “encourages” it is the condition, that is unwanted pregnancy, that caused the response. So clearly when you say you’re “encouraging” abortion in these kind of church lady terms, what you’re talking about is encouraging women to believe that they aren’t bad people even if they have sex. Which they aren’t. So Burner was just encouraging reality.
Which is something she gets at in her defense.
- darcy 3 *
The hair-pulling gross-out act from conservatives on this would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. They’d probably have the same level of vapors if Burner had asked women who’d had sex before to stand up in support of contraception. It’s clear that the narrative they’re pushing here is that there’s something fundamentally shameful about female sexuality, and since women can’t just magically turn our genitals into Barbie-like smooth pieces of plastic, we should at least be ashamed of ourselves. But Burner is right; 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime. The more we make that reality clear, that this is a normal part of women’s lives and a routine part of women’s health care, the harder it will be to legislate against abortion.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, when in doubt, crank up the hysteria edition. I suppose that’s every week on the Wisdom of Wingnuts, but this new video from the Action Institute really kicks that principle into high gear.
- threat *
Yep, if employers are expected to respect their employees’ freedom of religion instead of discriminating against them by docking their benefits if they use contraception, it will end America. How, I’m not clear, but hey, ominous music!