Texas Filibuster and Ohio Family Planning Defunding

Masturbating fetuses, redux

It was a girl. At 32 weeks.

Texas House passes anti-choice omnibus bill during special session

Texas legislator claims rape kits are a kind of abortion

Rachel Maddow reports on Texas uprising against anti-choicers

Ohio anti-choicers seek to raise abortion rate

Know your place

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll have Jessica Luther reporting from the ground in Texas, where anti-choicers have pushed for a massive anti-abortion bill in a special session. More reporting on that bill, and another segment on how Ohio is trying to kill off affordable contraception.

Satirical right winger Susie Sampson heard about the Texas politician who defended banning abortion because fetuses supposedly masturbate at 15 weeks, which turns out not to be even close to true. And she has thoughts.

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Turns out that he was misremembering a paper where a fetus at 32 weeks gestation was seen masturbating. So twice as far along. Oh, and it was a girl. So, yeah.


Things are getting really scary in Texas, y’all. The state house basically called a special session in no small part to pass an anti-choice omnibus bill that they couldn’t get the political will to pass in the regular session.

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Oh, anti-choicers love to gloat about how clever they are, attacking women’s rights while pretending that they’re just trying to make abortion—which they routinely call murder—safer. Why would you want to make what you consider murder safer, unless there’s something very, very wrong with you? They don’t. On the contrary, this is aimed at making sure abortions are performed as much as possible on the black market, often with drugs that, if you’re lucky, were bought in Mexico and smuggled in. If you’re not lucky, they could be a mish-mash of whatever. The fact of the matter is abortion is an outpatient procedure, often done with a pill, and you don’t need surgical facilities like a hospital to do it.

As is par for the course these days, the anti-choicers had to say a bunch of really offensive stuff based on their fantasies of how reproduction works instead of the scientific realities. This time, the weird fantasy of what the biological realities of rape looks like came from a woman,  Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, who was explaining why rape victims don’t need access to abortion.

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First of all, “cleaning out” a woman of a pregnancy is, uh, an abortion. You know, the thing that Rep. Laubenberg would like to ban for all women in the state of Texas—yes, this bill only outright bans abortions after 20 weeks, but Laubenberg is part of an anti-choice coalition that wants to ban all abortions. Even those that you euphemistically call “cleaning out” a pregnancy. But either way, rape kits do not in fact involve “cleaning out” a woman of a pregnancy—usually they’re done shortly after the rape, prior to the time conception could occur. They don’t involve any kind of uterine draining or flushing, and let’s be clear, even if there is some kind of douching or whatever, that doesn’t prevent pregnancy. She’s just, frankly, full blown nutters here. The weird fantasies of anti-choicers are hard to even understand sometimes.

Needless to say, and I’ll be discussing this with a Texas-based journalist after this segment, things got completely crazy in the state legislature. Hundreds of people showed up to run a “citizen’s filibuster”, though unsurprisingly the same legislators who were trying to sneak this legislation in by not voting on it during the regular session were completely willing to shut down testimony. Rachel Maddow reported:

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After all this, on Tuesday Sen. Wendy Davis attempted to block the bill by having a filibuster of her own. The tactic worked until about an hour and a half until the special session was nearly over, at what point pro-choice Democrats spent 90 minutes debating procedural tactics. With 15 minutes to go, the vote was called, but protesters started stomping and screaming and delayed it until 12:03 AM. That means the vote didn’t pass, and the bill is dead. For now, anyway. Next I have an interview with reporter Jessica Luther that was recorded in the middle of all the chaos on Tuesday.  For now, enjoy Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood reading a text from Wendy Davis to the pro-choice protesters in the Capitol rotunda:


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This is not the end of this fight, as Perry has called another special session, but it is a very good thing all the same.


insert interview


Ohio is one of those states where anti-choice legislators are trying as hard as they can to eliminate safe, legal abortion in the state. But not because, as they claim, they love fetal life! After all, anyone who sincerely wants to reduce the abortion rate would demand affordable contraception for all women. But in Ohio, they’re trying to make sure as few women get their hands on contraception as possible. NPR reports:

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It’s been considered forbidden in the mainstream media for a long time to admit that anti-choicers object to any policy that makes sex safer or helps women determine when they give birth. This is doubly, triply true for low income women. This rule that we’re supposed to pretend that this is about fetal life held even when conservatives openly started attacking family planning services that are known to prevent abortion, such as subsidized contraception. That’s because anti-choicers pretended that their efforts to increase the abortion rate by denying women contraception were somehow a blow to abortion because the services are often in the same building. But now, even that ruse is falling away, and NPR allowed someone to say on air what’s really going on.

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She continued, making explicit what’s at the center of all this.

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Exactly. The family planning centers targeted by this strategy aren’t just those that also offer abortion, though that’s counterproductive enough if your real goal was reducing the abortion rate. They are those that are simply set up to help women get affordable contraception, often because they aren’t insured. You won’t be surprised, therefore, to hear that Ohio Right To Life lobbied hard to end family planning services, even though doing so is known to raise the abortion rate.

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As they learned in Texas, however, those numbers are meaningless, because they’re generally compiled by anti-choice groups who are trying to create the illusion that this is about abortion when in fact it’s about reducing contraception access. A lot of the people they claim can help you out with contraception don’t actually provide that service, generally because they have other priorities. In Texas, a lot of the clinics anti-choicers claimed women could go to for Medicaid-covered services were heart doctors and cancer specialists, not doctors who provide Pap smears and birth control pills. Sounds like Ohio may be facing similar problems, according to the manager of the family planning clinic they first interviewed. You know, the one that doesn’t provide abortion and is likely getting its funds cut anyway?

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In addition, the funding cuts mean that family planning clinics will not be part of a larger drug discount program that makes the drugs cheaper. That means that even if other clinics picked up some of the slack, they wouldn’t be able to provide the same low prices on drugs. That prices contraception out of the range of lower income women, which is again something that happened in Texas, causing a minor surge right away in the unintended pregnancy rate. That, I would argue, is the point of all this. Because anyone who really does want to lower the abortion rate because they think abortion is killing would be doing everything in his power to get cheap and free contraception to women, not the opposite.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, so this happened edition. On Fox News, Tamara Holder went on Fox News and Bill Cunningham started yelling at her and shoving his finger in her face. She reacted understandably and boom!

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His beef with her was she treated him like he was treating her, and he straight up said she doesn’t get to do that because as a woman it’s not her place. And yeah.