sarah-ji / Flickr
On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be covering the Fifth Circuit court case regarding hospital admitting privileges in Mississippi, both with a segment and an interview with a lawyer from the Center for Reproductive Rights. Also, Bill O’Reilly blames Beyoncé for teen pregnancy, but does that make any sense at all?
Amy Schumer’s show is quietly one of the funniest and most unapologetically feminist shows on TV. Per our discussion of the “friend zone” last week, I thought y’all would appreciate this amusing clip.
- m’lady *
She also has some hilarious stuff making fun of how women are trained to be overly apologetic and a skit about rape that is actually funny and not offensive.
The Fifth Circuit court, which is located in New Orleans, broke with most other courts that have heard cases regarding targeted regulations of abortion providers. Specifically, most other courts who have heard challenges to laws that require abortion providers to have medically unnecessary hospital admitting privileges have thrown those regulations out, rightfully pointing out that the Supreme Court said there can be no undue burden on abortion access. The Fifth Circuit Court, however, upheld such a law in Texas, arguing that even though a regulation that is clearly meant to shut down clinics is medically unjustifiable, that somehow means it’s not undue. Yeah, it was a sleazy bit of legal dishonesty, but it’s scary, because the Fifth Circuit Court is hearing another case pretty much just like it. Except this time it’s in Mississippi and, if the law goes into effect, that means that the last remaining abortion clinic in the state will likely have to close.
- Mississippi 1 *
The case being argued last week isn’t over the law itself, but over the injunction against it. Either way, however, it’s not looking very good for the women of Mississippi. The same court first overturned an injunction against the Texas law and then upheld the Texas law earlier this year, so the hope that they’ll make a different choice in Mississippi is distressingly low. The only real difference between the two cases is that there are still some clinics left standing in Texas, but this would end the last clinic in Mississippi. Wiping out all the clinics in a state looks a little bit more like an undue burden, but frankly, I’m not holding my breath. The court was clearly indifferent to protecting women’s rights the first time around, so there’s no reason to think they’ll feel different this time around. At the clinic in Mississippi, they’re already trying to get as many women helped before the hammer comes down as possible.
- Mississippi 2 *
Dr. Willie Parker is an amazing person, y’all. He not only flies back and forth between Mississippi and Chicago to provide health care to women in both places, often at threat to his safety, but he cares about this issue so much that he makes himself widely available to media. When he finds time to sleep, I do not know. He went on MSNBC with a larger panel to discuss his first hand experience of abortion and what it means to lose this access in Mississippi. They discussed how the court justified saying that it’s not an undue burden by saying that the burden really isn’t that hard. But Dr. Parker disagreed.
- Mississippi 3 *
He also explained what kind of methods women turn to if they can’t afford the drive. Not all will be forced to have a baby they don’t want. Many will turn to illegal methods, particularly trying to procure drugs, often of unknown origin, over the Internet to do so.
Amanda Allen of the Center for Reproductive Rights was also on the panel, and she explained what is really going on here in terms of legal shenanigans.
- Mississippi 4 *
Here’s the thing: If Mississippi and Texas get away with functionally banning abortion through indirect means, then other states will surely follow. Then it’s not just a matter of driving 150 or 200 or even 300 miles. Now it’s a matter of driving 1,000 miles or trying to fly. It’s not just doubling the cost of an abortion, but tripling it or more. It’s basically a ban, and the fact that Mississippi will have no legal abortion within its borders drives this home. That’s the inherent dishonesty at the center of all this. Anti-choicers have been told, over and over again, that they can’t ban abortion. But they feel entitled to do it anyway, and will use any means necessary, including lying and basically manipulating our medical regulatory system for that nefarious purpose.
Most teen pregnancy is unintended and it tends to be associated with higher rates of negative outcomes for both mothers and children, so it’s understandable that there’s a lot of interest in research in methods to reduce the amount of teen child-bearing in this country. And luckily, that research is starting to pay off, with plenty of evidence to show both that teen pregnancy is on the decline and that it’s because teens are getting better at sexual decision making, particularly with regards to using contraception consistently. So that would suggest that future efforts to reduce teen pregnancy should be focused on more sex education and more access to contraception for teenagers.
That, or if you’re Bill O’Reilly, you’re just going to blame the entire problem on Beyoncé for supposedly teaching kids, apparently single-handedly, that sex sounds like fun.
- Beyoncé 1 *
He then goes on to show clips from some Beyoncé videos, notably “Drunk In Love” and “Partition,” which are sexy videos but are notably sexy videos about Beyoncé’s relationship with her real-life husband Jay-Z. I mean, Beyoncé is obviously not opposed to sex outside of marriage, but the official concern that Bill O’Reilly has with her videos is that she’s supposedly contributing to an anti-marriage culture that he deems dangerous. Remember, conservatives oppose out of wedlock child-bearing but refuse to accept that contraception and abortion are legitimate ways to avoid it, so instead they spin this bonkers conspiracy theory that women are deliberately trying to have babies without men because they’re anti-marriage. So how do Beyoncé’s videos make marriage and sex seem fun contribute to that? Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America came on to explain, but she just seemed to confuse the issue even more.
- Beyoncé 2 *
I loved this quote, because it showed that Fox News and Concerned Women for America are utterly contemptuous of the truth at every turn. The song is, for one thing, called “Drunk in Love” and not “Drunk Love.” It’s a sequel to a prior song called “Crazy in Love” and it’s pretty explicitly about her relationship with her husband. The song is most definitely not about anonymous blackout drunk sex, for god’s sake, and the fact that Nance thinks it is is disturbing since that implies she can’t tell the difference between consensual sex and a man forcing himself on a woman who is too drunk to consent. The lyrics are explicitly about a couple that lives together and has a crazy drunken adventure that yes, involves sex, but also dancing and being silly and all sorts of other things. In other words, it models enthusiastic consent, specifically with lyrics like, “Why can’t I keep my fingers off it, baby?/I want you” and Jay-Z rapping about getting it on again in the morning. This shows that the concern for teen pregnancy is paper-thin and the real issue here is a priggish desire to sit in judgment of how other people spend their time. Honestly, I think O’Reilly and Nance just think that the point of marriage is to be boring and not to have adventures, and the idea that a married couple could actually see themselves as fun-loving partners in crime offends them.
That, and of course there’s more than a little race-baiting going on.
- Beyoncé 3 *
If Bill O’Reilly doesn’t have a problem with adults having sex, then what exactly is his complaint here? Beyoncé’s songs are about, well, adults having sex. I mean, not all of them, but her sexual songs are about adults. In fact, they’re often very explicitly adult, framing sexual situations in terms that are basically off-limits to teenagers, such as going clubbing or, as I noted at length, in the context of established marriages. I mean, I don’t think sex should be considered off-limits for teenagers, but even if you do, the notion that songs about adult sexuality somehow cause teens to get pregnant is the biggest stretch of all time. I’ll be blunt: O’Reilly is being facetious when he says he doesn’t care about adults having sex. He obviously cares, a lot. And it bothers him even more when it’s African Americans demanding the right to have a private sexual life that’s pleasurable and fun, or else he wouldn’t keep injecting race into this. The teen pregnancy thing is just a paper-thin cover that doesn’t hold up under the slightest scrutiny.
Eboni Williams did try to fight back, but he kept interrupting her. But she got one small shot off.
- Beyoncé 4 *
I wish he would have let Williams finish, because she seemed to be making an important point about how there’s nothing about feminism that means you stop having sex or stop having sexual fantasies. That’s a myth the right created to discredit feminists, and it’s simply not true. But I want to circle back to her point about how teen pregnancy is actually down. It is! As pop music and especially videos have gotten raunchier in the past two decades, the teen pregnancy rate is going down. Now, the two trends might be unrelated. Or it might be that all this frank talk about sex actually makes it easier for teenagers who are sexually active to communicate with partners and to obtain contraception, because they have had the benefit of growing up in an environment where sex is something you can talk about openly. But one thing you cannot say is that Beyoncé is responsible for teen pregnancy. In 1998, when Destiny’s Child put out their first record, the teen birth rate was a little over 50 births per thousand girls. Now it’s under 30 births per thousand girls. If anything, the more Beyoncé records there are, the lower the teen pregnancy rate.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, yep, that’s pretty sexist edition. Fox News started a new show called Outnumbered that features four female anchors and one man. If you had any hope that this would mean the show would be any less sexist than their usual fare, well, I hate to disappoint you.
- Outnumbered *
Ha ha the faux “oh golly gee women are so powerful and men are always cringing” act that is supposed to distract from the realities of the world we live in. How original. I imagine the show will probably be nothing but this from here on out.