Will the Planned Parenthood Attack Backfire on Antis?

See more of our coverage on the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.

Related Links

Bobby Jindal’s rhetoric dehumanizes women

NPR on the Planned Parenthood hoax

Second hoax video

Research on fetal tissue saves lives

Dr. Ann Davis explains the reality of medical research

The New York Times denounces failed efforts to entrap Planned Parenthood

Who is behind the Center for Medical Progress?

Hagee plays the Hitler card

Nazis were strongly anti-choice

Transcript

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll do a political analysis of the Planned Parenthood hoax videos, which I think may, in the long run, end up hurting anti-choicers more than helping them. I also have an interview with Erica Hellerstein about how abstinence-only didn’t go away, but just got rebranded.

As I’ll lay out, this entire campaign against Planned Parenthood has been a total derail from the right wing attempts to recast the anti-choice movement as a lady protection movement. Indeed, much of the reaction to the video was a reversion back to the anti-choice tradition of telling women they don’t matter at all. Like Gov. Bobby Jindal, who seems to forget that women even exist.

  • Jindal *

It’s not just the insistence that a fetus is the same thing as a baby, which is the same categorical mistake as calling an acorn a tree. It’s the complete erasure of women and attempts to deny that women are the patients that abortion doctors are serving. That’s a far more chilling form of dehumanization than the use of fetal tissue in medical research ever could be.

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Last week, it seemed a little touch-and-go on the politics of this Planned Parenthood video hoax. Most pro-choice activists and experts in right-wing conspiracy theories understood right away that even though this was supposedly a brand-new group that is releasing a supposed undercover investigation, it was likely the same old anti-choice fanatics that have been behind video hoaxes coming out of Live Action, a group run by Lila Rose that is notorious for putting out deceptively edited videos making lurid accusations that are invariably debunked. It’s not like the ruse was particularly sophisticated. David Daleiden, the guy running this supposedly “new” group, the Center for Medical Progress, used to work for Live Action and Live Action “broke” the videos within minutes of them going up on YouTube. It may technically be a new group, but they were coordinating with Live Action. I suspect that the reason they made a new group at all was because they knew the Live Action name was hopelessly tainted and this was a way to try to trick the media into thinking it was someone else.

When last week’s podcast went up on Monday, it was really up in the air whether the hoax was a success. In the “yes” column was the number of Republican officials who rushed to use this hoax as a pretense for calling defunding Planned Parenthood.

  • PPFA 1 *

But anyone who knows Live Action’s M.O. knows that they usually try to fire their biggest bullet first. The first video showed no evidence of wrongdoing. But what did happen was that once journalists finally had time to sit down and watch the whole, three-hour unedited version was that they found that the edited version was really, really deceptive. They left out all sorts of important context, such as the many times that the doctor they interviewed insisted that Planned Parenthood does not sell fetal tissue. Or the way she described how careful they are about getting patient consent. Or the way that the tissue is used for necessary research into devastating diseases. So by the time the second one dropped, the media knew to be cautious and skeptical. And sure enough, this one, which purports to show Planned Parenthood medical director Mary Gatter “selling” fetal tissue, does nothing of the sort. In fact, she says this.

  • PPFA 2 *

They try to scratch away, but for whatever reason, they left that in there. I don’t know if it’s because Gatter talks fast and it made it hard to cut it out, or what. But they cut out similar comments from Dr. Nucatola, who was the object of the first hoax video, so let’s be clear that they are usually happy to hide exculpatory evidence. But most of the right-wing media focused on this part.

  • PPFA 3 *

Since the entire conversation was about how this was only reimbursement for costs and that there was no profit motive whatsoever and she has no interest in money, this is clearly an ironic joke, like someone with a small apartment jokingly calling it their “manor.” It was actually kind of darkly funny watching right wingers pretend they’ve never heard of the concept of sarcasm in order to generate outrage. Meanwhile, the more mainstream media journalists learned, the better Planned Parenthood looked while the worst the Center for Medical Progress looked. I will get into that part in the second segment, after the interview.

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Interview

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As noted in the first segment, I’m going to look at how the attempt by a Live Action spin-off called the Center for Medical Progress to falsely accused Planned Parenthood of selling fetal body parts might actually be backfiring on them. At first, a lot of people were surprised to find out that fetal or embryonic tissue extracted from abortions is sometimes donated to science, with the full consent of the woman getting the abortion. But where there is surprise, there is an opportunity for reporters to research and report, which is what happened. A number of media outlets used this as a chance to investigate what happens with this fetal tissue and found out that it’s actually pretty important and life-saving stuff.

  • Planned 1 *

Considering the fact that anti-choicers often try to claim to be “pro-life”, the fact that they oppose research into life-saving technology calls that claim into question. Anti-choice forces made a similar misstep a decade or so ago, when they made opposing stem cell research a major issue. The point of it was to shore up their false claim that they are about “life” and not controlling sexuality, but the real world impact was that they looked like a bunch of religious fanatics who were so caught up in their weird supernatural beliefs that they were blocking important, life-saving medical research. They’ve since shifted priorities and don’t talk much about that stem cell stuff, so a return to that tactic of demonizing medical research isn’t just dumb, but surprising.

The “trickling out” strategy, which they probably thought was genius, is actually giving journalists some time to learn more about this issue and experts more time to explain the facts in public. Dr. Ann Davis of Physicians for Reproductive Health went on MSNBC on Tuesday to explain the realities of this.

  • Planned 2 *

I just can’t imagine what kind of political value that anti-choicers expect to gain in the long term by reviving people’s suspicions that the anti-choice movement is anti-modernity, anti-technology, anti-medicine, and anti-all these things especially when it comes to helping women live healthier, better lives. I mean, that’s exactly what the anti-choice movement is, a movement that opposes medical developments because they help women live healthier, better lives. But they know as well as we do that they have to lie about that and pretend to be something else, in order to get any public traction. So why portray yourself as just anti-medicine so blatantly? It’s actually kind of weird if you think about it. But here’s more of Dr. Davis.

  • Planned 3 *

She also helpfully explained why storing and transporting tissue for research costs money, in case you were under the impression that it’s free.

  • Planned 4

This is just so obvious and commonsensical when you point it out that it’s become undeniable that the Center for Medical Progress was just trying to trick you. There’s no other way around this: They were using a lot of medical discourse that sounds gross to outsiders in order to scare people about what turns out to be responsible, humanitarian work that helps save lives. People don’t like being tricked, it turns out. The editorial board of the New York Times put out an op-ed denouncing the quote “years long campaign of deception.” They note that the Center for Medical Progress tried to offer Planned Parenthood $1,600 for a fetal liver and thymus, in an obvious attempt to entrap them into accepting more than simple reimbursement for storage and shipping. Planned Parenthood, you will not be surprised to find out, did not take the money.

That these anti-choice activists think they can lure people into unethical behavior isn’t that surprising to me. These anti-choice activists are, themselves, deeply unethical people who think nothing of lying all day long. People like that, I think, honestly do think the rest of us are as sleazy as they are. But they’re finding that is not the case and their targets aren’t walking into their traps. More to the point, I think this campaign has had the effect of reminding people that the anti-choice movement is full of sleazy, unethical people and, in many cases, it’s worse than that. After all, Troy Newman is on the board of the Center for Medical Progress. He is also the president of Operation Rescue, a harassment campaign that harassed Dr. George Tiller every day until he was murdered in 2009 by one of the regular Operation Rescue protesters. That organization’s second in command has also done time for anti-choice terrorism, an attempt to bomb a family planning clinic.

It has seemed for a time that the anti-choice movement was really abandoning the guts-and-sluts strategy for a new strategy of pretending to care about women, arguing that abortion rights and contraception access need to be taken away from us to protect us. That strategy assumes women are mental children, but it was, at least, politically effective. I don’t know why they’re going back to grossing people out, implying women getting abortion are murderers, and making it clear that they just generally oppose modern science and medicine. I feel that this whole hoax is really going to be a misfire for anti-choicers.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, ah jeez the Hitler thing again. You know that this Planned Parenthood hoax was going to bring back that favorite and utterly discredited right-wing trope about how abortion is Hitler, which John Hagee was spouting.

  • Hagee *

As I mention every time the right goes there, the opposite is true. The Nazi policy on abortion is actually right in line with what anti-choicers want. Abortion was illegal during the Weimar Republic, but under the Nazis, it was even further penalized, with the death penalty being prescribed if you performed an abortion on an Aryan woman. That’s just a fact and no amount of overheated rhetoric from the right will change it.

Debunking the Planned Parenthood Video Hoax

Read more of our articles on the misleading Center for Medical Progress video here.

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Cecile Richards responds

Bill O’Reilly goes extra sleazy

Right-wing pornography, indeed

Alex Wagner sets the record straight

No surprise: Planned Parenthood “sting” video is deceitful

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Rick Perry continues to be full of it

Rick Santorum admits that it’s all about controlling other people’s sex lives

Supposed evils of contraception

Transcript

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll dig into the furor over that hoax video accusing Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue, complete with an interview with a representative of Media Matters analyzing how that video lied. Also, National Right to Life had a conference, with lots of dishonest speakers.

But before we start tackling lurid right-wing nonsense, a small study reminding us what the real world looks like.

  • Regret *

Since a lot of anti-choice rhetoric these days is about how women have to be prevented from getting abortions to protect them from regret, knowing that just isn’t a thing is a useful and crucial piece of information. Not that the truth ever stopped a right-wing legend, as the rest of this podcast will sadly demonstrate.

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No doubt listeners of this show in particular are well aware that a group that claims not to be Live Action but staffed by Live Action people and who publishes through Live Action put out a video using Live Action’s M.O. for attacking Planned Parenthood. Step one: Get an undercover interview with someone who works for Planned Parenthood under false pretenses. Step two: Publish a highly edited version of it that makes a bunch of lurid but utterly false accusations. Step three: Within moments of publishing it, start accusing the media of “ignoring” the story, in hopes that they will scramble to cover it without doing even basic research. Step four: Posture in public about how outraged you are and how there needs to be an investigation and defunding, as irresponsible journalists take your bait, publishing stories that report on the quote-unquote “controversy” without taking even an hour to verify if any of your claims have merit. Step five: Retreat from public view as more responsible journalists start debunking your lies, knowing that no matter how thoroughly they debunk your lie, it will live on for years as right-wing legend.

This time the lie was that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue from abortions, which is illegal. It was a lie, a total lie. The video showed an interview with a doctor explaining how Planned Parenthood, with patient consent, donates fetal tissue to medical research for things like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. They edited all the stuff out about donation and disease and instead made it seem like she was selling fetal organs for scary unknown purposes, possibly for eating during Satanic rituals. The luridness of the accusations should have been enough for journalists to not run with the “accusations were made” story without taking 10 minutes to see if there was any, you know, validity to the accusations. But sadly, that didn’t happen, and the first debunkings didn’t come out until hours after the story was published in the New York Times and Washington Post, giving it enough time to get traction.

The good news is, I think, that the debunkings are starting to take and most reasonable people are embarrassed for ever thinking for a moment that this was anything but a hoax. Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood also hit the right note in her video response.

  • PPFA 1 *

The only thing I’d add is that Live Action, who technically didn’t make this video but was clearly involved and who was the first to release it, doesn’t just oppose legal abortion. Their president, Lila Rose, has been up front on multiple occasions about her objections to contraception, which she says that contraception was “promised to eliminate the exploitative attitude of men toward women” but that it had “the opposite effect.” That’s right. The people behind this video think that if you choose to have sex with a man for fun instead of procreation, then he is exploiting you. And they call us man-haters. I believe the reason they hate Planned Parenthood so much has as much, if not more, to do with birth control than abortion.

As you can imagine, the utter falsity of the video did not stop the folks at Fox, uh, News from striking a bunch of phony outraged poses. Like Bill O’Reilly, who had David Daleiden, the guy in the video, on his show. Daleiden shamelessly lied, saying Planned Parenthood sells fetal body parts, which is, without any doubt now, a complete and total lie for which there is no evidence whatsoever. After letting this man with no moral character whatsoever lie shamelessly on his show, O’Reilly got into a snit.

  • PPFA 2 *

You’ll notice that O’Reilly was afraid to say that this is true, because he probably knows it’s a lie. But that bit of ass-covering is not good enough. He allows Daleiden to lie at length on his show, without a single bit of fact-checking or correction. That is deeply, deeply immoral, not that it surprises me, coming from O’Reilly.

Megyn Kelly tried a similar thing, trying to squeeze this story for maximum impact while carefully not saying if she thought it was true, because she knows it is not.

  • PPFA 3 *

Yes, yes, the people who made this video are lying liars who lie for a living, but let’s make this about someone’s tone. Someone who doesn’t lie. Someone who helps people for a living. Someone who was on video talking about how she helps women who are having abortions feel that some good has come out of it, by donating the tissue to science that goes on to help people. Let’s make this about her tone. Because otherwise we might have to talk about issues of substance, such as why a video that is nothing but a sack of lies is getting so much attention and outrage. Luckily, Robert Zimmerman of the DNC was on and he did not mince words.

  • PPFA 4 *

Of course she interrupts him, because he’s speaking truth. And it is right-wing pornography. Kelly’s own titillated tone that pretended to be outrage shows how true that is. The fantasies about body parts and babies and evil is just that, a fantasy. A titillating fantasy that both gets them excited and justifies hating this group they hate for irrational reasons, mostly having to do with anger that other people are having sex and not asking their permission first. That is what is morally disgusting, not women in a hard situation of abortion deciding to donate the tissue instead of throwing it out.

I’ll give the last word on this segment to Alex Wagner of MSNBC, who explained what exactly this tissue is used for.

  • PPFA 5 *

If this video means you think we shouldn’t have vaccines or treatment for cancer or diabetes, by all means, go ahead and refuse those treatments. But don’t impose your irrationality on the rest of us.

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Interview

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National Right to Life had a conference last weekend in New Orleans, and regular listeners will not be surprised to find out that the eleven billionty Republican candidates for president showed up to preen about how they will outdo each other in showing quote-unquote “compassion” for women by stripping away basic human rights. Unsurprisingly, their remarks were self-serving nonsense full of lies and misinformation. Some of it was so self-deluding that it was actually funny, such as Marco Rubio’s attempt at soaring rhetoric.

  • NRLC 1 *

Ha, yeah, no. I think it hardly bears mentioning, but the anti-abortion movement is a right-wing movement. They are the people who worked and continue to work in opposition to all those movements he mentioned. The anti-abortion movement grew out of the pro-segregation movement, in fact. In show links, I have a historical piece written by Randall Balmer that lays out exactly how pro-segregationists, looking to increase their power and take the Christian right in a new direction, latched onto abortion as an issue. Basically, the same people who organized to create white-only schools in the South, after a couple of defeats in the courts, decided to take their organizations and turn it to abortion. That’s why, I believe, a lot of the legal tactics employed by segregationists seem a lot like the ones employed now by anti-choicers, particularly in terms of creating laws that claim to be about one thing but really are about enforcing their reactionary views on the public. Anyway, not to belabor the point, but comparing the anti-abortion movement to the civil rights movement is not only false, but an inverse of reality, where the anti-abortion movement was the very same people who made up the pro-segregation movement.

That ugly history is important to keep in mind when listening to Rick Perry’s statements.

  • NRLC 2 *

It should be self-evident that anti-choicers do not want to heal bupkis. On the contrary, this entire fight is 100 percent, one thousand percent their fault. If they could learn to mind their own business and not try to control and punish other people for having sex, this wouldn’t be a problem. If they would let women use contraception and abortion as we see fit, there would be no battle. If they stopped trying to hijack health classes to push their anti-sex agenda, this would all be over. If they literally could just let other people, people they don’t even know, live our lives in peace, this would all go away. But they refuse. So are they for peace and healing? No, they are for pain, and increasing it, by forcing women to have children they do not want and cannot care for. If you want to stop being accused of waging war on women, start by not waging war on women.

He had more to say, sadly.

  • NRLC 3 *

Research shows that showing a woman a sonogram image of her pregnancy does not influence her decision to abort or keep the pregnancy. That’s because, while Rick Perry may think women are stupid, women are not actually stupid. We know what’s in there when we get pregnant, a developing embryo and fetus. The way he talks, you’d think we think we have a bushel of oranges up there or something. Women are not stupid. I feel that this might be a major case of projection with right-wingers, honestly.

Leave it to Rick Santorum, however, to really get a head of steam going on how evil and wrong it is for other people to do sex in ways he doesn’t approve of. He comforted the poor, suffering anti-choicers, knowing as he does that they are all furious about gay marriage.

  • NRLC 4 *

I will say this: At least Santorum can barely be bothered with the pretense that this is about “life”, much less “protecting women.” He really comes out with it there: The objection to same-sex marriage and the objection to abortion rights is about being angry, downright furious, that other people have sex in ways and for reasons he doesn’t like. He can’t believe that we are allowed to decide our lives for ourselves, when he thinks that authority belongs to Rick Santorum. I’ve never heard him make a good argument for why Rick Santorum should be the boss of my sex life or your sex life or whatever. Just some noises about God and nature that don’t make sense, especially when you realize that when he talks about what “God” thinks, he means what Rick Santorum thinks. I suppose that’s the narcissism we’re dealing with. Of course someone who thinks he should be able to dictate your sex life also thinks that he knows, without a shred of evidence of support, what God thinks. Not that it matters. We live in a secular democracy, not a theocracy, so whether you believe Rick Santorum is God or not, it doesn’t matter. You can’t impose your religion on others. We still have a First Amendment, even if it’s being chipped away at day by day.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, they just keep getting bolder about opposing contraception edition. This is Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute, talking about how contraception supposedly ruined everything.

  • Morse *

That is, needless to say, not true. Not just the weird fourth-graders thing, either. The argument for contraception was never intended to limit it to married couples for health reasons. Yes, the Supreme Court decision that first legalized contraception was limited to married couples, but they weren’t told they had to give a reason for using contraception. The whole point was they had a right to privacy that protected them from having to justify themselves. A few years later, the Court reasonably agreed that single people also have a right to privacy. But of course the right has never respected the idea that other people have a right to make private choices that don’t affect them for ourselves.

Conservatives Melt Down Over Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage and Obamacare Decisions

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Unbelievable

Transcript

On this episode of Reality Cast, Jacqueline Ayers of Planned Parenthood will tell us about Congress’s sneaky attempts to kill family planning funding. And I’ll be reviewing conservative reactions to the Supreme Court rulings on health care and same-sex marriage.

Speaking of the court, the Supreme Court has issued a very important stay.

  • SCOTUS *

This will keep these clinics open until, likely, the Supreme Court makes a final ruling on these regulations. This is a good sign, folks, but we have a long road ahead.

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On Thursday, June 25, the Supreme Court struck down yet another major challenge to the Affordable Care Act. It wasn’t a huge surprise, because the case conservatives brought was laughably bad and the plaintiffs didn’t even really seem to have standing, as some journalists, particularly at Mother Jones, discovered. The plaintiffs in King v. Burwell tried to argue that the government had no right to offer health-care subsidies in states that didn’t establish their own exchanges, and that argument should have been laughed out of court on day one. That it even got this far is a testament to how much power conservatives have over the judicial system. But that was not, as you can imagine, enough to placate conservatives who want all the power. Of course, they only had 24 hours to pack in their freakout before the Court legalized same-sex marriage and that became the new thing to freak out about. But this is the American right, y’all, and they can pack a lot of screaming into a 24-hour news cycle.

Karl Rove kicked things off by trying to make the anti-Obamacare argument more true through repetition.

  • ACA 1 *

For those who haven’t been following this case closely, a quick explanation: The part of the bill that sets up tax credits for people to use to buy health insurance with says that if you buy through the state exchange, you can use this tax credit. Conservatives tried to argue that this means you can’t therefore use it if you’re on the federal exchange, which was only set up because some states refuse to participate in the state exchanges. Yep, it was basically a long, childish attempt at a “gotcha.” But the law doesn’t work that way. Intent and context do, in fact, factor into court interpretations of the law. Since it was obvious to all people, even the dissenters, that the people crafting this law didn’t mean to limit subsidies to state-only exchanges, the Court correctly decided not to go along with this childish attempt to gotcha millions of people out of their health insurance. But conservatives like Karl Rove are trying to pretend that it’s somehow illegitimate to take context into consideration when interpreting a law, even though that’s literally how all court decisions have been handled since the beginning of time.

Rush Limbaugh decided to get conspiracy theory minded.

  • ACA 2 *

In typical conspiracy theory fashion, he hints and dances around the argument for some time, but the general gist of it is this: He thinks that Justices Roberts and Kennedy, the two conservatives who sided with the liberals to uphold this decision, were somehow benefitting from the immediate surge in hospital stocks after this decision was announced. So yeah, kind of implying that they were, well not bribed, but sellouts for sure. This is all silly, of course. But I do like that conservatives are so hateful to low-income people that they’d rather see a significant financial sector, the health-care industry, tank in the stock market rather than see low-income people get health insurance.

Sean Hannity got even nuttier with the conspiracy theorizing.

  • ACA 3 *

Yep, Hannity went there, actually trying to argue that unless we strip health care tax credits away from low income people, um, the government is going to forcibly kill you with morphine. Who the “you” is that will be killed is awfully vague? Old people? Sick people? Conservatives? Liberals? Random people chosen by lottery? Hannity doesn’t say. He just wants you to know they’re coming for you, for reasons unknown. Because reasons, that’s why.

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Interview

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The freakout on the right over Obamacare being saved was bad, but nothing, as you can imagine, like what came pouring out of conservatives in response to the news that the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states. The response to that was pure apocalyptic raving. Now, to be clear, gay marriage has been legal in a number of states, including my own State of New York, for years now without blood running in the streets or plagues of locusts attacking us. You would think this would calm conservative fears about the supposed dangers we are facing. But that would assume that they’re making these kind of arguments in good faith, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned reporting on social conservatives all these years, good faith arguments are not really their thing. Mike Huckabee was particularly livid.

  • SSM 1 *

See what I mean about bad faith? Huckabee sure wants you to believe that there’s going to be some kind of massive resistance that will somehow make this not happen, but what exactly would that look like? He likes to compare himself to civil rights activists who refused to honor the rules of segregation, but they were able to flout those rules with their own bodies, by being Black in places where Black people were banned. How do you exactly resist gay marriage? By not getting gay married? Uh, doesn’t work that way? By disrupting gay people’s weddings? Maybe. I could see them trying to do that, like how they tried to physically force women not to go into abortion clinics until the police crackdown caused anti-choicers to scale back and simply call it “protesting” and now “sidewalk counseling” or whatever. But that was easier, because there’s only so many abortion clinics and they can be targeted, whereas weddings happen everywhere and are very decentralized. I just don’t see that happening. He’s full of hot air, trying to seem tough and brave without actually having to put his money where his mouth is.

This whole thing was so dumb that even Megyn Kelly of Fox News took a break from giving flattering and welcoming interviews to anti-gay activists to ask Huckabee what flavor of dumbass he really is.

  • SSM 2 *

Here’s the thing: You can sit around pouting in your living room about how you don’t accept this, nuh-uh, and no one cares. You can deny that gravity works but that doesn’t make you able to fly. You can’t just change reality by whining about it. This is the law of the land, the marriage certificates are being issued, this is a done deal. Temper tantrums don’t change that. Kelly finally had to feed him the constitutional amendment idea. I suspect Huckabee knows that’s literally the only way, besides violent revolution. But he doesn’t want to say it, because as soon as he does, you realize how silly and futile all this is. The majority of Americans support same-sex marriage. Even amongst those who don’t, a lot of them don’t care that much. The chance that the Constitution gets amended to nullify the court’s decision is less than zero. Even mentioning it makes it clear that Huckabee is just a demagogue who is latching onto an impossible issue for no other purpose but to pander to the religious right for money and support for his go-nowhere presidential campaign. It’s silly.

Not that I think this is going to go away after this initial temper tantrum, however. I hope it does. But people like Huckabee are endlessly interested in controlling your sex life and don’t give up that easily. They don’t have good ideas right now, but I’d keep an eye on them.

The apocalyptic talk was coming from all corners of the right. Like Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association.

  • SSM 3 *

You know, if you believe that God thinks that gay people are so unnatural, you would think you’d start wondering why he keeps making them.

Glenn Beck, as is his way, tried to make it all about himself.

  • SSM 4 *

Yeah, just like they banned saying that you’re anti-abortion after they legalized abortion. Oh, wait. Honestly, I could quote clips like this all day. According to the religious right, this is an assault on free speech and religious liberty and puppies and rainbowswell not rainbows, as they seem to officially hate those now. Honestly, I think this is why gay marriage activists made so much progress in a relatively short time on this issue. Conservatives were so over-the-top with their ridiculous claims about what this would do that people who were on the fence realized that the right doesn’t have any good arguments about this. And that helped push them over to the left on this.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, unbelievably tasteless edition. Craig James of the Family Research Council is, as you can imagine, feeling victimized because gay strangers are allowed to marry even though he doesn’t like it. And he reached for what may be the most tasteless comparison of his suffering to others ever.

  • James *

Yep. He just compared the suffering of having to know that other people have marriages you don’t like to the suffering of the families of the nine people shot in Charleston by a white supremacist. I have no words.

The Road to Majority Conference, and New York’s ‘Enough Is Enough’ Bill

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Transcript

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be covering the Road to Majority conference held by the Faith & Freedom Coalition and some recent victories in the war on sexual abuse. Jessica Mason Pieklo will also be on to help us sort out some recent reproductive rights court decisions.

Speaking of court decisions, the Supreme Court, on Thursday, saved Obamacare yet again!

  • Obamacare *

Word is that a lot of Republican politicians were secretly grateful, because they know if they took away people’s health care, they would feel it at the polls. Hopefully that means that this issue is done and there won’t be any more creative court challenges.

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Over last weekend, Ralph Reed’s newish conservative Christian organization, the Faith & Freedom Coalition, had an event titled Road to Majority, where all the big movers and shakers in conservative politics got together to see who could hate women the most and thump the Bible the hardest. Reed started the organization as part of his rehabilitation campaign after it was discovered he was involved in the Jack Abramoff scandal, but as long as you’re white, call yourself a Christian and hate women and gays, it’s all good on the right, I guess. And when I say hate, that’s what I mean. When the conservative Christians get together, the whole veneer about “life” gets peeled off and they show their true faces. And that face believes, make no bones about it, that a woman’s place is to submit to men, to have children whether they want to or not, and to face government and economic discrimination to keep her in her supposedly rightful place. Which is why Phyllis Schlafly was a warmly welcomed speaker who dug right into how proud she is that she defeated a constitutional amendment guaranteeing women the right to equality.

  • road 1 *

There’s all sorts of conservative tap-dancing around this issue, but let’s not play games here. The only reason to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment is you believe women are not equal. Schlafly doesn’t really try to hide this, building her entire career on pushing the idea that God wants women to be submissive helpmeets who stifle their own ambitions to live as unpaid servants for their husbands. She speaks out against laws that make it easier for domestic violence victims to get away from their abusers and says that there is no such thing as marital rape. The fact that she is so well-loved for it tells you everything you need to know.

So that gives you a general idea of the gender politics going on. As you can imagine, there was a lot of talk about the evils of abortion and sneering at Planned Parenthood. Chris Christie bragging about cutting Planned Parenthood funding, so everyone knows how hostile to contraception and even just STI testing the man is. Overall, the politicians at hand all knew that the trend in anti-choice posturing now is to pretend that you’re trying to protect women. You know, from their own rights. Because women can’t be trusted to make their own decisions, the silly dears. That was the message of Senator Mitch McConnell, who bragged about his efforts to ban 20 week abortions and then said this.

  • road 2 *

This is dishonest on so many levels. First of all, he’s trying to imply that 20 week abortion bans would have some major impact on convincing young women facing unintended pregnancies that they really want to be mothers. No, just no. Nearly all of the real world examples of the tender young women of his imagination abort before 20 weeks, 98.2 percent to be exact. More, really, because a significant chunk of post 20 week abortions are not the weeping maidens who McConnell thinks just need a Bible and a shotgun wedding. A huge chunk of post 20 week abortions are wanted pregnancies that went wrong or women who wanted abortions earlier but couldn’t get them.

But even if you’re talking about the 99 percent of abortions that are before 20 weeks, his rhetoric is hateful and, even as it pretends to be benevolent, it’s deeply misogynist. He imagines that women who seek abortions are basically, to be blunt, children. Not even teenagers. He seems to assume a post-pubescent woman or teen girl has the mental capacity of a 5-year-old and assumes the only reason that women get abortions is that they’re being steered the wrong way by nefarious people for reasons of mustache-twirling evil. The possibility that women actually have thought about it and are choosing abortion because they know themselves is dismissed out of hand. Women aren’t adults! He clearly thinks of our mental capacity as somewhere between a houseplant and a dog. Why beings who are assumed too stupid to make even very basic decisions for themselves are considered smart enough to raise babies, I’ll never know.

Jeb Bush’s speech was just as dishonest.

  • road 3 *

Love how he said it limited the number, as if that was just a side effect and not the intention. These people, may I remind you, consider themselves Christians and moral role models, but they lie with an ease and passion that suggests they don’t really get this morality thing. It’s also just plain bizarre, if you take a step back, to hear someone just regurgitate the talking point that abortion is murder, but they want the murder process to be as safe as possible for the murderer. Again, that only makes sense if you believe that women are basically very tall children you can legally have sex with, but who cannot be trusted as moral actors. The assumption here is that a woman who aborts isn’t accountable because she’s too stupid to know what she is doing. And so has to have access “limited,” you know, to protect her from actually having access.

This is hate. It’s disguised as benevolence, but it is hate. Characterizing an entire group of people, in this case women, as fundamentally too stupid to have rights is hate. It has a smiley face now, but if you push back against it, the benevolent act is dropped quick enough and you see the snarling misogynist underneath.

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Interview

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Feminist noise and activism on the subject of gender-based interpersonal violence, especially domestic violence, has been growing louder in recent years. And this summer, we’re seeing results. New York state just passed a bill to be signed by Gov. Cuomo called the “Enough Is Enough” bill, aimed at curbing sexual assault.

  • victory 1 *

The law does a few things. First of all, it installs an affirmative consent standard. Now, instead of expecting the victim to prove she said no loudly and frequently enough, the standard will be only have sex with people who want to have sex with you. That should be common sense, but it helps get around the rules-lawyering and quibbling over how a woman says no. Rapists will have a harder time saying, “Well, sure, she kept asking me to take her home and telling me to leave her alone, but she didn’t outright say the actual word no.” Now, knowing that someone doesn’t want to have sex with you is reason enough to be responsible if you have make them have sex with you anyway. Two, it protects victims from being punished for drinking or drug use that they may have been engaged in during the rape. Three, the bill requires that any student found guilty of sexual assault will have that on his transcript, making it harder for him to escape responsibility simply by transferring schools.

This bill is important not just to get justice for victims, but to prevent rape. A rapist might think twice if he knows it’s going to be harder to wriggle out of it. Also, we know that most rapists are serial offenders who keep doing it, confident they won’t get caught. Catching and punishing them changes that equation.

There’s also a huge victory in the war against revenge porn, which is when people release unauthorized naked pictures of you online to get revenge for dumping them or just to generally hurt and humiliate you for daring to be female and sexual.

  • victory 2 *

There’s still a lot of questions about how this will be enforced, but this is an important first step. A lot of men who share revenge porn include the victim’s name and personal details, often including her workplace and address. The idea, of course, is to get other misogynists involved to harass you, and it works. And, of course, to scare employers and schools from hiring or admitting you. It’s ugly, but true, that in a competitive job market, a lot of employers might hold it against you that you have a crazy stalker. Or, let’s be honest, that you’re a, God forbid, sexual being. There’s still a lot of stigma attached to that in some areas. So making sure these images don’t come up with you Google someone’s name is a number one priority.

But that’s on the policy front. On the cultural front, I was stoked to see John Oliver take on the issue, and treat men who do this with the contempt they deserve.

  • victory 3 *

I wish it weren’t so, but having a man explain this is a huge deal. Men get listened to, still, when women don’t. And he does it in such a normalizing way. He takes it for granted that sharing intimate pictures of yourself is a normal part of life, like owning a house. Which it is, even if some prudes would like to deny it. We don’t blame someone if they trust someone enough to have sex with them, only to have that person betray their trust later. So why, the second that sex involves a little bit of digital playfulness, we suddenly blame the victim? No, not buying it.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, more abortion drought nonsense edition. Last week, I covered a Republican legislator who blamed the California drought on abortion. Now you have Troy Newman of Operation Rescue doing the same.

  • Troy Newman *

Funny how all these right wing nuts think God has the same obsessions they have. You get the feeling they think they are God.

Insurance Coverage of Vasectomies and Condoms, and Blaming Abortion for Everything

Related Links

HuffPost Live on HB 2

Arizona “abortion reversal” bill

Supreme Court upholds Fourth Circuit Court decision on ultrasound law

Injunction against Arkansas’ 12-week ban is granted

Why Obamacare should cover vasectomies and condoms

Alveda King doing her horrible thing again

Yep, it must be death cults

Glenn Beck and guest claim women are sad on their periods because they wanted more babies

Transcript

On this episode of Reality Cast, Guttmacher’s Adam Sonfield will be on to explain why we need Obamacare to cover men’s contraception. I mix things up with a segment of good news, and for some reason, a lot of conservatives are saying really weird things about abortion lately.

Rewire’s Andrea Grimes was on HuffPost Live to talk about the Texas HB 2 law and how it was upheld, to the ruination of women’s abortion access in the state.

  • Andrea *

You can watch the whole thing, which is about 20 minutes long, at Rewire. The link is in show notes.

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I don’t get many opportunities to share good news on this show, but the legislative session is winding down and a few court decisions are starting to come in that are rolling back some of the more aggressive attacks on reproductive rights. In particular, abortion doctors regained some free speech rights they had been losing in state legislatures. It’s popular on the right these days to pass laws forcing doctors to lie to patients or guilt trip them, even though it should be obvious that mandatory lying or emotional abuse is not only a violation of free speech rights, but of basic medical ethics. Doctors are often forced to say that abortion causes mental distress or breast cancer, even though neither is true. But Arizona took it to another level earlier this year.

  • States 1 *

Oh yes, they claim there are “both sides” to this story, which means that it’s a victory for anti-choicers no matter what happens, because now they’ve got the idea out there that there’s some confusion over whether an abortion can be, uh, reversed. The answer to that question is a big fat you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me no, followed by a reminder that women do not, in fact, have abortions and then suddenly start freaking out and asking doctors to put it back in. Which is the other lie that anti-choicers want to get out there, to lay the groundwork for the idea that abortion needs to be banned to stop that kind of regret from happening. In the real world, women who decide after an abortion that they do want a baby tend to just get pregnant again. Nearly all women who have abortions are either mothers already or will be mothers one day.

But while they’ve hijacked the legislature to push two giant myths that have no foundation in truth, at least, for now, anti-choicers can’t actually make doctors lie to their patients about this. The state has agreed to put a hold on the law until it can be heard in federal court. Hopefully, the court will have the common sense to see that forcing doctors to tell such a ridiculous lie is a grievous assault on free speech and medical ethics.

While most of the attention to mandatory ultrasound laws focuses on the actual wanding itself, and how terrible it is to drag it out longer than necessary for diagnostic purposes, there’s also free speech issues involved. The North Carolina mandatory ultrasound law came with a script where a doctor was supposed to lecture a woman about holding the father responsible and about adoption and all sorts of issues roughly 99.9 percent of women getting abortions have already considered. And because of this, it was struck down as a violation of free speech by the Fourth Circuit Court. Now that decision is sticking.

  • States 2 *

The downside is that this means that other ultrasound laws won’t be dealt with. The Supreme Court is being really cowardly on the issue of abortion, basically, which makes me worried about what’s going to happen with Texas. But this is a good news segment, and I have even more!

  • States 3 *

The state is asking a federal appeals court to remove the injunction, but the fact that it got put there in the first place is good. It’s obvious what antis are doing now. They get a few 20-week bans in and, having established the idea that 20 weeks is more than enough time to get an abortion, they try to shorten the window. If they can get 12 weeks to be the new standard, they’re going to start arguing that if you can’t get it done in eight weeks, you don’t deserve an abortion. And then it’s going to be six weeks. Then four weeks. And they’ll be running around implying that everyone who needs four whole weeks to get an abortion is a lazy, no-good slut, without ever acknowledging that you really can’t get an abortion before four weeks, because a lot of doctors worry it’s too early to get it done safely. Or admitting that most women don’t even know they’re pregnant at four weeks, since you may not even have noticed a missed period yet.

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Interview
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For a while, it felt like right-wingnuts were so busy blaming gay people for everything that they forgot to blame abortion for everything. But abortion is back on the docket, probably because of all the political attention being paid to the issue, and we are all the poorer for it. The Fox News reaction to the horrible shooting in Charleston, South Carolina has been a shameful endeavor: mostly a bunch of attempts to downplay the obviously racist motives of the shooter and try to spin it as some kind of attack on Christianity. But they also found time to blame abortion, courtesy of Alveda King, an anti-choicer who exploits her familial connection to Martin Luther King Jr. to get on TV. King performed her duty, downplaying the racism of this attack and trying to make it about abortion.

  • Abortion 1 *
  • Abortion 2 *

The entire display is baffling as well as insulting. This man, Dylann Roof, murdered nine innocent people. He is a murderer. We all agree on that. But apparently at Fox News, calling him a racist is just a bridge too far, because they’re that committed to propping up the illusion that racism is not a thing that happens. And the abortion thing. I thought I’d become inured to right-wingers equating the choice to end a pregnancy with the loss of actual people, people with lives and families and memories and feelings. But once again, I just can’t even deal with this. It minimizes the realities of violence to suggest that the life of a person is worth no more than the life of an embryo. It’s outrageous to me that people who can’t see that think they should be treated as moral arbiters. Just, no.

Much less awful but just as nutty: California Assembly member Shannon Grove is under fire for blaming California’s drought problems on legal abortion and suggesting that taking away a woman’s right to choose brings the rains. No, I’m not kidding. A news station quoted Rewire’s own Zoe Greenberg on this story.

  • Abortion 3 *

Grove is denying that she blamed the drought on abortion, but she’s denying it in a cagey way. I mean, she didn’t say exactly that abortion restrictions bring the rains. She just held it out as a remarkable coincidence that probably had a causal relationship. Like it’s only like 99 percent likely.

On the Faith and Freedom radio program, hosts Mat Staver and Matt Barber were just beside themselves with glee over the news that Texas is cutting breast and cervical cancer screenings through Planned Parenthood. They falsely claimed that doing this would somehow defund abortion, though it only defunds cancer screenings. To justify their desire to see funding for cancer screenings cut, they, well, just listen.

  • Abortion 4 *

Yes, that’s the reason one in three American women will get an abortion, as a sacred rite of a widespread American death cult. That must be it. There could not be any other reason, such as finishing your education, waiting for a better relationship, or wanting to care for the children you already have. Death cults. It must be death cults. The irony here, of course, is that the only people who are pushing death are the people who would rather see women go without cancer screenings than accept Planned Parenthood’s sex-positive, pro-choice philosophy.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, period-splaining edition. Rabbi Daniel Lapin is this nutty right-winger that is deeply beloved by Glenn Beck because of his anti-woman opinions. And he came onto Beck’s show to explain that we women are so desperate to be pregnant all the time that our periods cause mourning. I’m not exaggerating.

  • Periods *

That’s because it is not. Because that might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, and that’s saying a lot when you consider the history of this show. May I remind you that, in the real world, women deliberately take pills to suppress ovulation? The notion that we’re all sitting around just praying to get pregnant every month for the entire span between menarche and menstruation, which is like 35 to 40 years, mind you, is just, yeah. No. This might be the greatest mansplaining of all time, between its pseudo-intellectual wankery, putting men’s B.S. over women’s lived experience, and just utter and hilarious falseness.

Reproductive Rights Advocates Suffer Setbacks

Related Links

Cosmo reaches women

Fifth Circuit Court upholds extensive abortion ban in Texas

Rick Perry lies through his teeth

Jeb Bush on shaming single mothers

Pathetic defense of Bush

Ann Coulter still opposes women’s suffrage

Transcript

On this episode of Reality Cast, a representative from North Carolina’s NARAL will explain what’s going on in their state. Texas gets closer to all but banning abortion and Jeb Bush gets in trouble for his hateful comments from 20 years ago.

People are gearing up for another female-centric election and the fabulous Joanna Coles, the editor in chief of Cosmopolitan, made the case that women’s magazines have a crucial role to play.

  • Cosmo *

It’s been interesting watching the conservative press freak out about this. It’s so telling that they think that media aimed at older, whiter, more conservative voters can be political, but god forbid you suggest young women have a right to participate in the political process, too.

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Well, horrible news going into the summer. After two years of court battles, the Fifth Circuit Court has upheld [provisions of] a Texas omnibus abortion law that was built to shut down all but 7 or 8 clinics in the state. It’s no big surprise, since the Fifth Circuit Court has been gunning for abortion rights since this all started. The court is extremely conservative, downright wingnutty, and they’ve embraced every bad faith and stupid argument that Texas lawyers have made to defend this law. NPR had a report.

  • Texas 1 *

The regulations were carefully crafted by anti-choice organizations to be the sort of thing that slips under the average person’s radar. Most people think abortion is surgery, so the hospital level standards also might sound reasonable. That was clearly the intention, to trick people into thinking this was really about women’s health and not some backdoor attempt to ban abortion. And Rick Perry was holding that line, arguing that legal abortion needed to be all but banned to protect women’s health.

  • Texas 2 *

It’s really telling how much anti-choicers hate women, that they not only attack women’s rights but lie like this about it. It’s clear that Rick Perry doesn’t think we deserve honesty or the truth. That’s how much contempt he has for women, that he will lie this easily and smugly, telling us he’s trying to protect us when he’s clearly trying to hurt us. The amount of hate you must have for people not only to attack them like this but then lie about it? It’s truly stunning. Just to drive home what a filthy, despicable, hateful liar he is, this law requires you to have a full anesthesia machine to hand out a pill you take at home. It’s the equivalent of requiring someone to be checked into a hospital to have a filling replaced. At that point, you realize they just don’t want you to have dental health-care access. That Perry has never even bothered to hide that he opposes legal abortion is just the icing on the cake. They should just admit what they’re doing here. The lying about it shows that they know it’s wrong, or else they would be more confident about their beliefs.

The lawyer for the Center for Reproductive Rights made a similar point on NPR.

  • Texas 3 *

A lot of anti-choicers, including the one they had to interview for NPR, are claiming women still have access because they can either travel out of state or go to one of the remaining clinics in the state. To give you an idea of what that means, over 73,000 women had an abortion in Texas in 2011. In order for 8 clinics to handle that workload, each would have to do one abortion an hour every hour for every day of the year. So yeah, women don’t have access. But that shows the evil genius of this law. No one actually believes it’s there to protect women’s health. But since it doesn’t close down all the clinics, it allows women, especially middle class and wealthy women, to believe that their access is safe and it’s just other women, poorer women, that are shut out. Anti-choicers are basically positioning abortion as a luxury instead of a right. It’s brilliant marketing, especially in Texas where there’s a lot of classism and racism fueling the politics there. But it’s also a lie. Anti-choicers think all women who have sex for pleasure are sluts and that we all should pay. But they are smart enough to know that message will never sell well, so instead they go with the whole “it’s just those other women who are sluts, your sex life is fine” messaging. Sadly, it may work.

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Interview

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So Jeb Bush’s 1995 book Profiles in Character, a title so stupid you already know this is going to be bad, recommended public shaming as an answer to the supposed problem of single motherhood. Here’s David Pakman reading that section.

  • Bush 1 *

Bush went on to praise the Scarlet Letter as a model for what he’s talking about. It’s worth noting that the Scarlet Letter is not a book about unwed motherhood. Hester Pyrnne, who is forced to wear the scarlet A, is married. That’s the problem: She got pregnant without her husband being around, which means she is guilty of adultery. You know, a common sin amongst Republican politicians, but somehow I don’t think Jeb Bush wants to start pinning scarlet As on their shirts. But Bush’s reading comprehension aside, this story is interesting because he also put his money where his mouth is, signing a law when he was Florida governor requiring women who can’t or won’t name the father of their child to publish a detailed account of their sexual history in the newspaper in order to give their child up for adoption. Just as a reminder of how much misogyny lurks in the hearts of anti-choicers. The law, for what it’s worth, was quickly struck down in court.

Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus went on CNN to try to spin this, but ended up sounding like an idiot.

  • Bush 2 *

Of course, if you read more of the quote, you’ll see that he basically did just that, praising the institution of the shotgun wedding and arguing that pregnancy, as opposed to love or compatibility, should be what forces people to get married. But it’s worth remembering that the era of the shotgun wedding did not actually lead to stable marriages. A lot of single parents were married at one point but ended up divorced. But our divorce rate is actually going down in this country, in no small part because the shotgun wedding is disappearing as an institution. Making people who aren’t compatible try to live as husband and wife was always a bad idea. A better idea would be to promote birth control and abortion so that people have children when they want to have children. But of course, conservatives don’t want that, because that implies that having sex is okay. And this is about sex, and not about children at all. Which was amply demonstrated by the law requiring women to be publicly humiliated in order to give up a child for adoption, something Jacobus also tried to excuse.

  • Bush 3 *

Anti-choicers claim they want kids to be available for adoption, but given a chance to shame women for having sex, they went for it, even though it meant that women would be afraid to give children up for adoption. So how is that pro-child again? But typical: Given the choice between helping children and hurting women, conservatives will take the latter every time. Bush is now claiming his views have “evolved” on this. No surprise there. In the past decade or so, anti-choicers have developed this strategy of pretending they care about women and want to take away our rights for our own good. So admitting you want to publicly shame women for having sex is forbidden now. Even the people who show up at abortion clinics to publicly shame women walking into them claim they are “sidewalk counselors.” It’s all very silly and their basic urge to hurt and shame women hasn’t changed one bit. But the way they portray themselves has gotten a lot more dishonest.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, Ann Coulter has another book out edition. And she’s really desperate for attention, so let’s give her some. Here’s Coulter on Gavin McInnes’s show.

  • Coulter *

It’s fashionable now to roll your eyes at Coulter, call her a clown and try to ignore her, claiming she’s a troll and only does this for attention. I think that attitude misses the point. Even if liberals all collectively chose to ignore her, she would still sell a lot of books and be a big star on the right. Her opinions, like it or not, influence people. Ignoring her does not change that.

Duggar Drama Continues, Wisconsin’s Abortion Battle

Related Links

Jane Doe protest

Bristol Palin gets fussy over the Duggar situation

The Duggar interview

Duggar daughters cover for Josh

Ugh, mandatory ultrasounds are not “cool”

Scott Walker’s gross attitudes on rape

Wisconsin anti-choicers don’t care about medical facts, of course

Yeah, sure, humans are going extinct

Transcript

On this episode of Reality Cast, Eve Andrews will describe some promising efforts to help teens get better birth control in Washington state. The Duggar family drama continues, and the battle over abortion in Wisconsin gets weirder by the minute.

Texas activists, going by the name Jane Doe, showed up at the Austin capitol building in a clever protest. Andrea Grimes of Rewire got the protest on video.

  • Jane Does *

Check out the video at Rewire!

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It appears that, as much as we might wish otherwise, we are not done with the fallout from the revelation that Josh Duggar molested four of his sisters and a babysitter in his teen years, and that his parents basically covered it up so they could present their family and their Quiverfull religious cult like it’s just wholesome family fun on the TLC network show 19 Kids and Counting. The absolute, unquestionable smartest move the anti-choice right could pull right now is to put as much distance between themselves and the Duggars as possible. After all, the religious right’s official stance is that they want to ban abortion to “protect” women and that they want to restrict contraception because, uh, religious liberty. But they are adamant that it is not, I tell you not because of some kind of anti-woman agenda or desire to return to a more patriarchal society where women are reduced to breeders and chattel with very little control over their own lives. Under the circumstances, it was stupid before these allegations to align themselves with the Duggars, who make no bones out of their belief that women are inferior beings made to shut up and do what men tell them to do. Now that the Duggars are revealed to be so committed to their misogynist philosophy that they seem to view female unchastity as worse than male violence, it would really be a good time to put some distance in there.

But instead, that tribalism that the right is so famous for is kicking in. Even though most conservatives live a lifestyle that’s a lot closer to the liberals they hate than to the Duggars, a lot of them see the Duggars, with their sanctimony and priggishness and misogyny and blinding whiteness, and think, “one of us, one of us!” And so they’re rushing in, and oblivious to how it makes them look, defending the Duggars. Last episode, I chronicled how Mike Huckabee defended them. Now you have Bristol Palin basically kind of saying the liberal media owes Josh Duggar a freebie on this one because, uh, Lena Dunham.

  • Duggar 1 *

Not that anyone ever accused Bristol Palin of being the brightest bulb, but this argument is so wrong-headed that it’s impossible that it’s being offered in good faith. Lena Dunham told a silly story about looking at her sister’s vagina, with no sexual interest at all, when she was 5. Josh Duggar, fully admitting that he was forcing himself sexually on girls, touched girls over and over and over as a teenager who was post-pubescent. Nor has Lena Dunham held herself as some kind of moral exemplar who has a right to tell everyone else how to live and have sex. In contrast, that’s Josh Duggar’s job, both in the media and with his lobbying work for Family Research Council. But all Bristol Palin knows is that Lena Dunham is an urban liberal and Josh Duggar is a rooting tooting red state mega-conservative, and that means he’s a good guy and Lena Dunham must be the bad guy.

Fox News also joined in the Duggar defense brigade, because throwing red meat to conservatives matters more to them than, say, helping the right seem slightly less misogynist. Megyn Kelly brought Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar onto Fox News for a lengthy interview where they could make excuses, minimize, and blame anyone but themselves for what happened. Oh and paint themselves as the victims, of course.

  • Duggar 2 *

This is from a woman who participates heavily in political campaigns against legal abortion and transgender and gay rights. It’s unbelievably rich of her to claim anyone else has an “agenda”. The Duggars have always had a fairly obvious agenda: To make a lot of money and to promote their vision of a hardcore patriarchal world where women have very few legal rights, men are considered an absolute authority in the home, and sexuality is obsessively policed like it’s some demonic force out to destroy you. When you relentlessly push your bizarre, hateful agenda on others, you can’t complain if they take very strong note of you own indiscretions and, in this case, outright criminal behavior. To be blunt, no one gets a free pass for sexual abuse. But you especially don’t get to spend your life demonizing people who have consensual adult relationships and personal choices, and then turn around and make excuses for non-consensual, criminal sex abuse.

The part of all this that is most appalling, which is saying a lot, is that two of the victims have been conscripted to stand up for their brother, who, may I remind you, molested them.

  • Duggar 3 *

Victims are accorded a lot of respect and room to define their own experiences in our culture, as they should be. However, these two were raised in and now promote a faith that teaches that women do not have autonomy, but are and should be little more than puppets doing the bidding of fathers and husbands and, in some cases, brothers. They believe women are not to have opinions of their own, that you are to think and do what men tell you. It’s awfully convenient now to hold them out as autonomous people who are supposedly thinking for themselves, when they are not allowed to ever do that. It just goes to show how cynical and corrupt to the core this family is. Oh they are followers of a philosophy of radical female submission, but if it’s convenient for preserving their reputation, they will pretend for the cameras that women are allowed to draw conclusions on their own. It’s telling that so many in right-wing media are eager to defend these people rather than chalk this up as a lesson in the dangers of aligning yourself with members of radical religious cults.

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Interview

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Last week, I made note of the fact that Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin was trying to defend his mean-spirited support for forcing women to endure lengthy, guilt-tripping ultrasounds by saying he was just trying to give women a “cool” thing.

  • Wisconsin 1 *

Man, conservatives do not understand the concept of consent, do they? I doubt Walker would like it very much if I told him he had to have a wand stuck up his butt for 10 minutes while I explained the joys of liberalism to him before he was allowed to get medical care, and I doubt even more he’d appreciate it if I got huffy and told him that some people like having large objects put in their butts. But Walker’s iffiness around the issues of consent and treating women like our bodies do not belong to us got, if anything, even worse after this. When he was asked about banning abortion at 20 weeks, even for rape and incest victims, while shrugging, he said this:

  • Wisconsin 2 *

So much shrugging! Eh, rape, who cares. This quote is a perfect distillation of how anti-choicers can get all gushy about the lives of fetuses that aren’t even that developed yet, but shrug off the idea that woman have lives worth caring about or respecting. It’s not true that rape victims have all this time to decide. A lot of post-20-week abortions for rape happen because the victim was in denial or was so overwhelmed that she didn’t know she was pregnant until that late. In some cases, the victims are very young, think pre-teens or early teens, and may not know what pregnancy symptoms look like until they are showing. That’s why abortion access is so important, but Walker doesn’t care. Faced with questions about women’s humanity, he just shrugs.

But Walker is not the only mean-spirited fool who feels like he has a right to force his ignorance on you by the law. Wisconsin state Sen. Mary Lazich, who supports the 20-week bill, seems to believe that medical experts have nothing of value to add to the abortion discussion. It started with pro-choice Democrat state Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa decided to ask Lazich about whether any medical experts had been involved in drafting the legislation.

  • Wisconsin 3 *

Lazich then implied that some kind of Christian right woman-hating doctor automatically provides better care than the people who head up, oh, every major medical association in the country, and then this happened:

  • Wisconsin 4 *

The Republicans wiggled and squirmed, but the honest answer is they just don’t care. They don’t care if you’re injured or killed or traumatized or put through unnecessary pain or suffering. They think that’s just what God has in store for you if you dare decide to have sex or made the mistake of being born female. They got this bill, like all these legislators do, off model legislation written by religious right groups that want to force their dogma about female sexuality on everyone by force of law. Everything else is just noise.

***************

And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, yes, they really are coming for your contraception edition. Listen to Don Feder, the communications director of the World Congress of Families, at a recent event warning that if you give people the option of not having babies, they will opt never to do it. Apologies for the translator talking over the clip.

  • extinction *

Reality check time: The human population is growing and the real danger is that our growth rate may outstrip our ability to keep us all alive. In 1960, right around the time reliable contraception really became a thing, the world population was right around three billion people. Now, a mere 55 years later, it’s over seven billion. 100 years ago, it wasn’t even quite two billion. The reason other animals go extinct most of the time these days is because our species is overwhelming and destroying their environments. We have a lot of problems, but too few people on the planet isn’t one of them.

The Josh Duggar Scandal, Barriers to Birth Control Access in Texas

Related Links

Male feminists

Chris Hayes reports on the Duggar scandal

Why did the Duggar investigation end?

Mike Huckabee defends the Duggars

Jonathan Stickland: Former fetus, current tantrum-thrower

Scott Walker tries to make the mandatory vaginal wand sound like a neat gift

Rep. Trent Franks is full of it

How dare Planned Parenthood educate the voters about facts?!

Transcript

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll talk to a Texas researcher about obstacles between women and birth control. The Duggar sex abuse scandal spins out of control and anti-choice politicians are getting nuttier and more radical.

Elizabeth Plank has a fun new video out about male celebrities picking up the whole feminism thing.

  • Male feminists *

She interviews actor Matt McGorry about how he discovered feminism. It’s a fun and light video that will give you some hope for humanity. I recommend as a good way to wash out the taste of all the people, men and women, out there whose anti-feminism makes you despair.

***************

As I promised last week, I’d keep covering the Josh Duggar situation if more developments arose. And boy howdy did they! This story keeps getting weirder and more disturbing all the time. The first big reveal was the family’s bizarre complicity and shielding of Josh from consequences.

  • Duggar 1 *

Or that’s how it was first reported. But, as Irin Carmon of MSNBC found when she dug around, in fact, the statute of limitations had not expired when Duggar was reported to the police. According to the Washington Post timelines, Josh was first discovered to be molesting girls, mostly his sisters, in 2002 when he was 14 years old. His parents then proceeded to keep him out of legal trouble by sending him off to hang out with a family friend over the summer and telling their church, who should have been mandatory reporters, that he was getting “Christian counseling”. In 2003, an officer of the law was finally involved, but the guy was a family friend who gave Josh a quote “stern talking to” but did not file charges or otherwise officially engage the law. That officer later was caught with child porn and is doing 56 years in prison. In 2006, when Josh was 18, the authorities were finally alerted by an anonymous tipper. That was when they supposedly determined that the statute of limitations had run out, but as Carmon explained, Arkansas’s statute of limitations on child abuse is actually seven years, not 14. The state had until 2013 to arrest him but they didn’t do that. So something shady is going on here. And it gets worse.

  • Duggar 2 *

Considering that most of the victims were his sisters and most of them still live with the parents that colluded to protect Josh from legal consequences, this development is ringing all sorts of alarm bells. The Duggars are a clan that believes women should basically have no right to self-determination at all, especially on matters pertaining to sexuality. So that compromises the ability of any of the victims in this case to be acting strictly of her own accord, as they have been raised their whole lives to believe they are not smart or strong enough to make their own decisions.

And then it gets even worse from here.

  • Duggar 3 *

This is disingenuous. Josh Duggar’s behavior is a problem, especially since he doesn’t seem to have had any interest in taking responsibility until he was outed like this. But talking about the lesser moral responsibility of minors is a distraction from the real issue, which is that the Duggars covered up the crime, didn’t get Josh any real counseling, allowed him to continue living with the victims without getting any real help, and then put their family on TV where the victims were supposed to smile and act like everything in their family is normal and wholesome. Oh, and where Josh got to make jokes like this.

  • Duggar 4 *

Yep, that’s him joking about his sister going on a date with his brother. It would be a silly enough joke if, you know, he hadn’t actually molested his sister. In context, however, it reads as incredibly creepy. At this point, it’s worth noting that, as this clip makes very clear, he is well over 18, making the claims about minors and responsibility moot. But is it any surprise that he seems not to give a crap at all? He molested a bunch of girls and his parents covered up for him and put him on TV as some kind of role model of wholesome Christian manhood. Then he got a job lecturing other people on their supposed morality for the Family Research Council. Where he tried to argue that LGBT people are a threat to children.

  • Duggar 5 *

It’s never been clearer that the supposed concern for children is just a feint to cover up for the real agenda here. The whole thing shows that all this conservative Christian talk about personal responsibility and family and life is just a cover for their real agenda, which is giving straight men control over the rest of us, even if that means protecting men who abuse women and girls.

***************

Interview

***************

Anti-choice politicians just keep getting stranger and more radical all the time. In Texas, the fear that he might lose an opportunity to foist unnecessary suffering on women made state representative Jonathan Stickland absolutely lose his mind. Stickland’s bone-deep issues with women and his childish behavior have gotten him into the news before. Stickland decided to taunt Planned Parenthood representatives visiting the state capitol by putting a sign identifying himself as a former fetus on his office’s name placard, and when it was removed, he threw a temper tantrum that made him sound about 10 years old.

  • abortion 1 *

The whininess! The false sense of victimhood! Not that this is surprising from someone who identifies as a “former fetus”, which is a classic conservative maneuver of pretending to be victimized in order to victimize others. Part of me was a former sperm but you don’t see me denying men the right to masturbate because of it. But counting nonsense grievances appears to be this man’s deal, as this clip masterfully shows: Pretending to be afraid when he wasn’t, pretending that he’s under some kind of assault because he lives in Austin where liberals live, pretending that Planned Parenthood is out to get him personally because they defend women’s rights. Well now this perpetually aggrieved man nearly came to blows with another Republican because he ran into obstacles trying to attack women’s rights even more.

Texas Republicans decided to temporarily table a bill that would deny women insurance coverage for abortions, and Stickland was so furious that he got into the face of Bryan Cook, reportedly nearly punching him in the face. Stickland had to be escorted from the house chambers. This is what we’re dealing with when it comes to anti-choice politicians these days: They say they’re all for protecting babies, but when it comes down to it, it’s more that they are all about acting like babies.

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin was being similarly slimy, going on Dana Loesch’s radio show and pretending that a bill he signed that would force women to undergo an ultrasound in order to get an abortion was just him doing a nice favor to the ladies.

  • abortion 2 *

Walker would have you believe that, for some reason, one was not allowed to have an ultrasound without being forced to endure one, even if your doctor thinks it’s unnecessary. This is not true or else how would he have gotten an ultrasound picture of his own sons in the womb? In fact, you are 100% free to get an ultrasound if you want. Many abortion providers already do them to determine the best course of care. But Walker’s bill would require them to harass you while they’re doing it, by forcing the doctor to point out all the features on the embryo and trying to draw you into staring at it, even if you don’t want to. This is clearly just there to make women feel bad, to punish them for not having a baby. It’s also about making sure that vaginal wand is up there as long as possible, which is clearly just straight sadism. It’s not a gift. It’s just making an already unpleasant procedure even more unpleasant.

Sanctimonious, dishonest posturing isn’t just limited to state politicians, either. Rep. Trent Franks got all saccharine on the WallBuilders show defending a go-nowhere bill banning abortions at 20 weeks.

  • abortion 3 *

Oh blooey. This bill wasn’t about high-minded ideas about life, but about finding a way to undermine legal abortion by, like cowards, attacking a tiny subset of abortions that are poorly understood by the general public. Part of me is tempted to wonder if people who voted for this bill are ever kept up at night with the guilt caused by being both misogynist and deceitful, but it’s been a long time since I last believed that nasty, mean-spirited people ever feel anything but proud of themselves for being so ugly.

***************

And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, things get stupid, real stupid edition. Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck was furious that Planned Parenthood dared point out presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina’s anti-choice policies. So furious, in fact, that she said this.

  • Hasselbeck *

Answer: Because Fiorina opposes women’s rights, especially with regards to health care. The ability of conservatives to take umbrage at anything, no matter how ridiculous, continually amazes me. I mean, the implication of this segment is that it’s somehow off-limits for a political action group to take note of the political positions of people running for offices. Since when is Planned Parenthood obliged to help candidates hoodwink the public about where they stand on women’s rights?

Hypocrisy in Missouri, Pro-Choice Themes in ‘Mad Men’

Related Links

Left obsessed with sex

John Diehl sex obsession

John Diehl’s assault on birth control

Uh, girls play with water guns

Transcript

On this episode, I’ll interview a researcher who has a new paper out measuring prevalence of sexual assault at one campus. John Diehl’s sex scandal reveals anti-choice hypocrisy and I’ll have a segment honoring Mad Men’s long reign as an adamantly pro-choice show.

As I was going into to record this episode, there was a big scandal breaking out about TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting series.

  • Duggar *

I don’t know that anyone is actually surprised by this. I’ve covered the Duggars on and off on this podcast for a long time, and their public persona is one of uber-creepiness on the sex stuff. But this scandal is what will finally end their terrible show that puts a positive spin on their creepy home life. If there are new developments, I will cover next week.

***************

Recently, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, understandably trying to weasel out of expressing some of his more unpopular opinions on things like gay rights, told a reporter who was asking him about it that the left is “obsessed” with sex. No, I’m serious. A reporter asked him about gay rights and he whined, “Is there something about the left—and I am going to put the media in this category—that is obsessed with sex?” Because clearly the only reason you might ever want gay people to have human rights is you’re a compulsive masturbator.

Of course, there are political ideologues in this country who are, in fact, obsessed with sex. But they aren’t liberals who would, if they had their druthers, probably love to get sex out of politics entirely. What a glorious day that would be if people could just have sex on their own without having to worry about losing human rights or the ability to control their own lives and bodies because of it? But that day is not here, because of the right’s continuing and unwavering obsession with sex.

Earlier this month, we got a hilarious and almost picture perfect example of how this works. The Missouri legislature, under the leadership of House Speaker John Diehl, has been churning out a dizzying number of bills aimed at punishing women in the state for having sex. Checking the Rewire Data Center [http://data.rhrealitycheck.org/], I see that, under Diehl’s leadership, it’s been a non-stop assault on reproductive rights. There was even a bill that amended the state’s sex education standards to mandate lectures about how sexting is wrong and inappropriate and you should never ever do it.

So yeah, this happened.

  • Diehl 1 *

Hey y’all. He’s only 30 years older than her. That’s not like too bad, is it? Obviously, inappropriate sexual behavior is not limited to one party or one ideology, but this particular scandal is particularly ugly because the girl slash woman in question is a college freshman. She’s not even a sophomore! I mean, this is just egregious. I mean, we all have our sexual mistakes, but surely waiting until someone’s been an entire year out of high school before having sex with them behind your wife’s back is not too much to ask. It takes a high level of entitlement to chase after thirsty kids right out of high school, sir. That’s a new low.

But while John Diehl feels so entitled to sex he goes hunting amongst those who haven’t had the ink dry on their high school diplomas yet, he feels that your sex life is so wicked and out of bounds that your boss should be able to deny you the birth control of your choice.

  • Diehl 2 *

That’s right, the Missouri legislature is so hostile to birth control that they overturned the governor’s veto of a bill that would allow your boss to veto your choice of birth control, based on his religious beliefs. I’ve covered this issue extensively on this podcast, so it’s not worth rehashing here. The issue here is that Diehl doesn’t think you deserve even the basic right to privacy that allows you to make your own choices about birth control without your boss getting a vote. But when he was found out to be planning a sexual encounter with a girl that was barely of age, he initially refused to resign. So your age appropriate relationship is so naughty you deserve punishment, but his adulterous shenanigans are none of our business? Not buying it.

But of course, he did eventually resign because, at a certain point, these religious hypocrites have to keep up appearances. But make no mistake, this is not about conservatives suddenly growing a conscience and learning how to treat people with dignity and respect.

  • Diehl 3 *

Yep, because some adult hypocrite can’t keep it in his pants, a bunch of college kids are being forced to lose career and educational opportunities. Because conservatism has never been about right and wrong and treating people fairly. It’s about protecting the powerful and shifting blame and punishment, as much as possible, on those who are vulnerable and haven’t done anything wrong. This is just more of the same.

***************

Interview

***************

After seven seasons and eight years, the critically acclaimed and endlessly compelling TV series Mad Men, about ad executives living through the ’60s, has come to an end. There’s reams and reams of things that can and have been said about the show, but I want to focus on one of the more subtle but long-standing themes that was really brought to a head this season, which was how this was an era when mandatory motherhood was really called into question and started to fade as an unquestioned ideal. The ’60s was an era when reliable birth control really started to shape society, causing a lot of people to come around to the idea that motherhood should be something that’s chosen, not forced upon you by an accident of nature. And while this theme never got as much attention as other themes about consumerism or political change, it was persistent until the very last episode when a minor character, named Stephanie, gave this speech at a hippie seminar that is a thinly disguised version of the Esalen Institute at Big Sur.

  • Mad Men 1 *

The idea that many women of this era had babies when they weren’t ready and that created trauma that could never be forgotten or erased was with us from the very first season of the series. It was most obvious in the decision to have Peggy Olson get pregnant and, in denial, ignore all the symptoms and weight gain until she actually gave birth. The event is so traumatic that she is put in a mental ward and her baby is put up for adoption. Her boss, Don Draper, figures out where she is and visits her in the hospital and gives her one of the most famous speeches in the history of the show.

  • Mad Men 2 *

I imagine that sentiments like that were often shared with the many thousands of women at the time who, like Peggy, were unable to admit publicly that they were pregnant and therefore were sent away to give birth and give their babies up for adoption in secret. And since we all wanted Peggy to be happy and do well, I think a lot of us kind of agreed with Don at the time. But it became clear, as the series went on, that she never could really get on board with pretending this never happened. Oh, she kept the secret, like women of her era did. But it haunted her. It turns out that hiding that secret in shame was not good for her, and her character lights into her best friend Stan, angry because he doesn’t seem to understand that women are trapped by childbearing in a way men are not.

  • Mad Men 3 *

At this point, he realizes that she must have had this experience and asks her about what she did when she was pregnant unexpectedly.

  • Mad Men 4 *

Peggy finds some measure of peace, realizing that she did what she had to do and that it’s not like she had any great choices. But that expectation, that you simply bury it and pretend it didn’t happen, isn’t working for her. I don’t think it worked for a lot of women. That’s a story that didn’t get told a lot, and Mad Men tells it in many ways. Peggy’s is the most obvious, but you also see Don’s first wife, Betty, who clearly had kids without thinking about it and she ends up being a selfish, angry person who makes her kids sad all the time, though she really doesn’t mean to be that way. Eventually, though, the show shifts into the late ’60s, and we get to experience Megan, Don’s modern second wife who uses the birth control pill and who resists getting pregnant against his wishes because she’s unsure of him and worried about her career. That ends up working out for her. The show wasn’t polemical. I bet a lot of viewers didn’t even really grasp what they were doing here, since it was so subtle. But cumulatively, it made a very careful and convincing case for the importance of birth control and legal abortion. Not just because it helped free women to work, but because it prevented these sad and often forgotten tragedies. This is the world anti-choicers want to bring back, a world where women like Peggy are always burdened by the knowledge that their child is somewhere in the world without them. Or women like Betty who want to be good mothers but fail all the time because they weren’t ready for it. We should definitely not want that world back.

***************

And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, Fox News has weird ideas about what girls are capable of edition. So the Boy Scouts have a long-standing ban on water gun fights, mostly as a CYA maneuver because they have a ban on pointing any kind of firearm, toy or otherwise, at people. A blog post reminding scout leaders of this policy caused many to think this was a “new” thing and that caused the right wing press to go into an absolute frenzy, including Fox News, of course.

  • Boys *

I was unaware that girls do not have water gun fights. I guess I grew up as a boy, then, because water gun fights were a staple of my childhood. This entire issue is really ridiculous. So what if the Scouts don’t want leaders organizing water gun fights for outings? Kids can have them at home in their spare time. The best water gun fights are spontaneous anyway.

Federal and State-Level Assaults on Abortion Rights

Related Links

John Oliver on family leave

Rachel Maddow on recent spate of anti-choice legislation

Republicans crawling all over themselves to cheer proposed federal abortion ban

37 new abortion laws this year alone

Wisconsin tries to ban abortions after 20 weeks

Tennessee onslaught on abortion rights

Good news in Virginia

So many offensive Holocaust comparisons. So many.

Transcript

On this episode of Reality Cast, Kathryn Joyce will explain the fight over Marshallese adoptions in Arkansas. The House votes to ban abortions after 20 weeks and state-level assaults on reproductive rights continue.

John Oliver insisted on using blind hiring practices for his writing staff, leading to the hiring of more women writers than is typical for comedy shows. The choices of topics they cover has really reflected this wise move. For instance, Mother’s Day meant that Oliver eviscerated the U.S.’s pathetic family leave protections.

  • Oliver *

Congress may be horribly anti-feminist right now, but man, comedy has really taken a turn for the ladies.

***************

So what do you think is the biggest problem facing our country these days? Civil liberty violations? The continued use of drones despite the fact that they are known to kill civilians? Income inequality? Campaign finance reform? Well, last Monday, Rachel Maddow convincingly argued that, for Republicans, all these issues pale in comparison to their biggest concern, which is that women continue to have sex without getting permission from the religious right. As the New York Times reported, so far this year, state legislatures have passed a whopping 37 new abortion regulations, bringing the total over the past four years to over 200 new laws trying to punish women for having sex by making abortion a more miserable experience, if you can get one at all. And make no mistake, this is about sex, as evidenced by the fact that Colorado Republicans just voted to have a higher abortion rate by terminating a program giving IUDs to low-income women and teen girls. But this single-minded obsession is not limited to the state legislatures. House Republicans have tweaked the bill banning abortions after 20 weeks, to make it less overtly hateful to rape victims, and are bringing it back.

  • abortion 1 *

The waiting period gives the game away. The excuse for this ban is that fetuses at 20 weeks are developed enough to feel pain. That’s not true, of course, but that’s the excuse. But if they really were worried about that, why would they start delaying and putting off the abortions so that the fetuses have time to develop even more?

The good news is that this bill is a go-nowhere bill. Even if it does get to the president’s desk, which it won’t because the Senate won’t allow it, President Obama would veto it. The bad news is that this bill is basically a huge gesture to indicate to the religious right that they still wholly own the Republican Party. Which is why every presidential candidate is crawling over himself to wax poetic about the beauty of forced childbirth.

  • abortion 2 *

Humane and compassionate to make a woman who has been told she is going to be gravely injured if she has this baby to go ahead and do it anyway? Pro-woman to make rape victims endure a two-day waiting period that only exists to make them feel like they’re bad and have done something wrong by being raped? Common sense to override a doctor’s medical judgment with the religious, anti-science blathering of a bunch of misogynists? The political posturing of all this becomes even more grotesque when you realize the vote was scheduled on the anniversary of the day Kermit Gosnell was convicted for murder. The implication is that a law like this would somehow have prevented what Gosnell did, which was things like terminating very late pregnancies or outright killing babies. But that is simply untrue. May I remind you that Gosnell was convicted and is in jail. Which means, for any slow-witted anti-choicers in the audience, that there were already laws in place banning people from doing what he did. Passing more laws won’t stop people who are breaking laws that already exist. There’s some common sense for you.

But while this particular vote was mainly symbolic, there are material considerations in play here. As Maddow explained on her show, reproductive rights have become the number one most partisan issue in the country. By which I mean that you can accurately predict where a politician stands on the issue by party affiliation more than any other issue.

  • abortion 3 *

As a member of the press, I can tell you, one reason is that journalists, editors, and audiences are burned out on this issue. Relentless, non-stop abortion abortion abortion talk is driving people a little nuts. If you cover this story, you get accused, constantly, of being obsessed with abortion. I know I do. But we’re not the ones with an obsession. Conservatives are. I wish I never had to write about this issue again. I wish that abortion was considered no more controversial than getting a cavity drilled. I wish contraception were no harder to get than aspirin. I wish the Republican Party wasn’t completely controlled by people who cannot stop looking for vindictive ways to punish women for having sex. But here we are. And I promise that as long as they are obsessed, I will call them out for their obsession.

***************

Interview

***************

It’s the state legislative season which means that it’s nearly impossible to keep up with all the anti-choice legislation that’s pouring out of Republican-controlled state legislatures around the country. Like, really, really hard. As the New York Times reports, there are 37 new anti-abortion laws just this year alone and more are coming all the time. While the House voted on a go-nowhere bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks, state legislatures have been far more successful at restricting access by making those bills into law. Here’s a round-up of some of the uglier attacks on women’s rights in recent days.

  • states 1 *

I am so frigging exhausted of debunking this lie, which I suppose is why they repeat it so often. Conservatives really have figured out that they can just keep telling the same lie over and over again, and reality-based people will just give up, too worn out to keep doing this dance until the end of time. But let’s be utterly clear: There is zero evidence that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks. There is substantial, irrefutable evidence that their nervous system is not developed enough for that to be possible. Saying that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks is the equivalent of saying that handless embryos can play pattycake. It’s just a weak excuse to pretend that they have some kind of new argument when they don’t. It’s the same old “sex is bad, women need to be punished” nonsense. With 20 week bans, it’s particularly sadistic, because women needing those abortions disproportionately have serious medical or personal issues.

Tennessee is having a veritable feeding frenzy of anti-choice activity, after a ballot measure was passed amending the constitution exempting women seeking abortion from the privacy protections afforded all other people in the state. Already the governor has signed a bill requiring abortion clinics, even ones that just dispense the pill, to meet ambulatory surgical center requirements that are medically unnecessary but expensive enough to shut down a significant number of clinics. Now he’s moving onto a bill that targets women, to make abortion a hassle and to shame them.

  • states 2 *

Indiana also quietly passed another abortion regulation aimed at shutting down clinics. It’s all very depressing, but there’s one state where things are actually getting better. Pro-choice Democrats absolutely swept Virginia’s midterm elections, and the effects have been great for women.

  • states 3 *

Those building codes were put into place by anti-contraception, religious right fanatic Ken Cuccinelli after Republicans hit roadblocks trying to pass them through legislature. But now it’s been undone and, for now, safe and legal abortion clinics in Virginia are safe.

***************

And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, gay-marriage panic edition. With most political watchers feeling positive that the Supreme Court is going to legalize gay marriage, many conservatives are running away from the issue and pretending that they weren’t raging about it just a few years ago. But some diehards, like Mat Staver, will hang on until the bitter end.

  • Staver *

Yep, first you have to treat a gay couple with the same basic decency and respect you treat straight couples with. Then, concentration camps! The logic is sound, if you don’t think about it for even a moment.