Magical Thinking and Pregnancy, and Texas’ Health-Care Crisis

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On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be talking with Lori Frohwirth about magical thinking and pregnancy. There’s a major abortion court decision in Texas and Rand Paul makes a weird anti-science, anti-choice speech while stumping for Ken Cuccinelli.

So much of what I report on here is about legislative attempts to make pregnant women, all women really, public property and subject to conservative control. So it’s nice that one state has given pregnant women at least one more protection instead of taking them away.

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Okay, it’s not like a total restoration of full human rights in one of the most anti-choice states in the country. But it’s nice that there’s some recognition that pregnant women aren’t public property.


Three of the medically unnecessary regulations that Texas passed over the summer were set to go into effect last Tuesday. So there was a rather hasty court case in the days heading up to it, which we covered in an interview with Janet Crepps from the Center for Reproductive Rights a month ago. Now the court has come down with its decision.

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In addition, the restriction forcing doctors to give an excessive and less effective dosage of RU-486 to women and make them come in for extra visits was upheld, in a ruling that made even less sense after I read it. It seems the judge was more interested in issuing a middle of the road decision than taking seriously the requirement that there be no undue burden on abortion access.

A local news station in Ft. Worth did some coverage of the decision. They interviewed people who oppose legal abortion, despite the claim from the state that these regulations are about protecting women’s health and not shutting down abortion access. Of course, you can’t actually get a real women’s health advocate to support these regulations. They did manage to find an anti-choicer who appears to have convinced herself that women are better off if they have their rights taken from them.

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While I think the majority of anti-choicers don’t actually believe their B.S. claim that abortion hurts women, for those who do fall for that line, the logic goes something like this: Women are inherently asexual beings. The only reason women should want sex is to catch a man and make a baby. A woman who has an abortion or even uses birth control, therefore, is somehow in violation of her natural being. Some believe these women are being victimized by men who pretend to love them and somehow think that these women will be better off if unwanted pregnancy forces those men to stay. Never mind that being forced to be with someone who doesn’t love you sounds terrible and frankly, the idea that you can force a man to stay is a fantasy. When feminists point out that women frequently have sex because they enjoy sex, we’re accused of trying to hoodwink women into thinking they’re “like men.” It’s all very disgusting and all the more evidence that really people need to learn to mind their own damn business.

Wendy Davis, who represents Ft. Worth in the state legislature, weighed in, of course.

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In a moment that really reflects how much our press just can’t wait to get a horse race angle on every single issue, the Washington Post immediately went for the “how does this affect Wendy Davis” angle by bringing in a Texas Tribune journalist and making her talk about that.

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I don’t think the conservative opinion on this matters. That’s an odd thing to say. They hate her. But I must reiterate, it’s not like the election is tomorrow. The election is a full year from now and things can change a lot in that time. The real question is not how this affects the horse race, as exciting as that may be for people who see politics as if it’s just a form of entertainment. The real issue here is what’s going to happen next for Texas.

Late on Thursday, the Fifth Circuit Court took the stay on the law off, which means 13 clinics are likely to stop providing abortions in Texas. The court’s reasoning for this was basically to affirm that they didn’t think this law was a substantial burden for abortion access, which means that it’s very unlikely the court will rule in favor of the pro-choice side. [Editor’s note: On Monday morning, an emergency petition was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by attorneys for reproductive health-care providers in the state. Learn more here.]


Insert interview


Rachel Maddow summarized [about Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’s recent anti-choice speech at Liberty University]:

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Yes, Gattaca. His speech was extremely weird, based on the assumption that abortion is somehow tied up in eugenics, implying that the main reason women have abortions is they find the embryo they’re gestating to be not good enough for whatever reason. This is quite literally the dumbest argument against abortion ever, and that’s saying a lot when most arguments against abortion are really dumb. The vast majority of abortions are done before any kind of genetic testing. There are abortions done because the fetus will have Down’s syndrome and other situations like that, but by and large most abortions are done in the embryonic stage. No gender is known, much less genetic blueprint. But Paul has a crappy grasp on science generally, it turns out. He thinks that the 1997 movie Gattaca is an accurate portrayal of how science will deal with genetics in the future.

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Look, in 1997, when Gattaca was released, it was entirely reasonable to believe that once the human genome was mapped, we would have the secret to life and everything else. It was still theoretically possible that our DNA would indeed produce a literal roadmap to our lives. But now we know that’s not true at all. The information keeps coming in and the initial research is actually showing that environment has more impact than Gattaca or many scientists initially thought. For instance, there are genes that determine if you’re more likely to have fast reflexes or higher endurance, but studies show that they have surprisingly little impact on what sport people end up excelling in. But that’s okay, because Paul is happy to bend all sorts of facts to suit the anti-choice agenda. Such as the facts about what the Holocaust was about.

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Okay, he didn’t say the Holocaust, but that was what he was implying. This is unbelievably offensive. The Holocaust was not about pulling people out of the population because they were physically less perfect. It was about targeting people, mainly for their ethnicity, specifically Jews. Unless Rand Paul is trying to say Jews are less perfect than Christians, I don’t see what he’s stabbing at here.

Look, there is no doubt that the government of the U.S. did allow deeply unethical forced sterilizations to happen, with eugenics as an excuse. Those programs, however, were about using ill-defined claims of idiocy to target people who were lower class. Interestingly, modern DNA testing is actually being used to protect people’s right to parent. In Europe, a Roma couple falsely accused of child-stealing had their daughter returned when her DNA test proved she was theirs. In addition, the pro-choice movement and legal abortion spring from the right to choose. We’re the ones fighting government control over women’s reproduction, which includes opposition to forced sterilization or forced abortion. But Paul thinks he has a nifty way around that.

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So because he worries about state control over our bodies through DNA testing that he saw in a sci-fi movie, he proposes actually using state power to actually force real world women to give birth against their will. You can’t make this stuff up.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, “it’s all in your heads, ladies” edition. John Stossel has a theory about why women go to the doctor more than men, and it’s of course because ladies are crazy.

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Well, one major reason is that women’s reproductive systems require more medical interventions. Our cancer screenings start earlier, we use contraception services more than men, and let’s just say I don’t think those expensive babies that women push out of their bodies are just figments of the imagination. But John Stossel doesn’t care about any of that. He’s trying to build the narrative that Obamacare is about women “stealing” health care from men and to do that, it’s important to demonize women and use nasty stereotypes about them.