Fighting Back Against The Texas Ultrasound Law

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The Center for Reproductive Rights takes on the mandatory ultrasound in Texas. Also, the war on Planned Parenthood spreads on the state level, and Tim Pawlenty vs. Michele Bachmann in a battle over who hates women's rights more.

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Links in this episode:

Rebecca Traister and Nora Ephron on women in politics

Planned Parenthoood defunding

Bachmann demagogues on Planned Parenthood

HHS stepping in

Bachmann on abortion rights

Pawlenty on abortion rights

Pawlenty fails anti-choicers

Defending the hecklers

On this episode of Reality Cast, an attorney from the Center for Reproductive Rights will explain their lawsuit against Texas over mandatory ultrasounds.  Also, the state by state defunding of Planned Parenthood is causing major damage, and it’s Tim Pawlenty vs. Michele Bachmann in the contest of who hates women’s rights more. 

Nora Ephron and Rebecca Traister were at the 92Y talking about women and politics. Ephron sounded a note of optimism about progress towards more women in office.

* ephron *

Well worth watching the whole talk.


Anyone who honestly thought the war on Planned Parenthood would be over after Republicans failed to defund the organization on the federal level, well, they were kidding themselves.  Misogyny doesn’t give up so easily!  The next step now is to attack the organization on the state level, and as usual, if one conservative state starts to do something, the rest make like sheep and follow. 

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It’s depressing to me that even the supposedly liberal MSNBC buys into the right wing claims that this is about abortion.  I realize it’s tricky to call people liars on cable news, but there are ways to frame this so that you don’t have to focus so much on what anti-choicers say as what they do.  So perhaps say basically that this is an attack on family planning funding that is unrelated to abortion.  Point out, for instance, that abortion tends to be offered unsubsidized and patients have to pay for themselves.  You can do what Rachel Maddow did once, and link this effort to anti-contraception actions in the past, such as the anti-birth control protests held every year.  Or you could do what I do and point out that the Bush administration was openly hostile to contraception, and mandated that high schools replace sex education with anti-contraception propaganda they called “abstinence-only”.  There are ways to really educate the audience about the anti-contraception hostility underlying the attacks on Planned Parenthood. 

Another frame is to talk about how anti-choicers don’t even bother to tie all their attacks back to abortion.  Like Michele Bachmann, who attacked Planned Parenthood on the grounds that minors can get care there.

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She did later say that they did abortion, which again is still legal.  Her claims of criminality were, as you can imagine, pure lies.  The way anti-choicers justify this fudge is to basically assume 100%  of girls under 18 who have sex are engaging in criminal behavior, and therefore if a girl under 18 comes in to buy condoms, get tested, or get birth control, that counts as “trafficking”.  I fully expect they’ll use the same logic to suggest that a doctor is rounded up to a drug dealer if he ever consents to care for someone who may or may not have smoked pot at any previous point in the past.  The boring reality is that having sex as a minor is not only common, but most minors who are sexually active have partners around their same age.  And it’s completely, 100% legal for minors to obtain birth control without parental consent.  I’m guessing the plan here is to try to attack the right of minors to buy condoms without parental consent next.  In general, we should be deeply concerned at how swiftly it’s become conservative common wisdom that any kind of teenage sexual activity is basically criminal, not only because it’s false but it really lays the groundwork for encouraging unhealthy choices. If teenagers are led into believing that they don’t have a right to obtain contraception or that they could be arrested for having sex if they sought contraception, then they’ll probably just have sex without protection.

The good news is that states can’t just simply deprive low income citizens of family planning access without a fight from the feds. 

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The other states who have definitely cut Planned Parenthood’s funding are Kansas and North Carolina.  Again, I’m assuming that HHS will react the same. This is probably going to court.  One of the things to understand here is that cutting off this family planning funding is going to cost these states huge amounts of money, both in terms of driving up health care costs in response to the growing rate of unintended pregnancies and STD transmissions, and in the costs of defending themselves legally from the federal government  insisting they honor federal non-discrimination laws that protect Planned Parenthood.


insert interview


Well, I’d say the Republican primary season is now well underway, with most likely potential nominees having thrown their hat in, even though there is still some hope in conservative quarters that Rick Perry will at least consider running.  Which means it’s time for the Republicans to compete with each other in a big game of who hates abortion rights the mostest.  Michele Bachmann practically glowed when asked about abortion rights during the Republican primary debate hosted by CNN.

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And the beauty of putting this on god instead of government is that it basically squashes the question of whether or not women have these rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Obviously, the answer in Bachmann’s mind is absolutely not.  If women have the rights detailed in the Declaration of Independence, then abortion is absolutely a right, because women need it to live, women need it to be free, and women need it to pursue happiness.  But since Bachmann has blamed her anti-choice views on god, she’s basically not taking responsibility.  She may have been speaking in a glowing tone, but her message was pure ugly---women don’t have rights, and that’s set in stone by your creator and cannot be changed. 

Tim Pawlenty was asked to respond, since Bachmann was basically taking the stance that she could beat him in a woman-hating contest any day. 

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As usual with Pawlenty, he’s all about talking specifics and trotting out boring arguments based on his record.  This is why everyone finds him boring, but is honestly what I like about him.  Like this answer here.  He does leave no doubt where he stands on women’s reproductive rights.  He’s against them.  While Bachmann was blathering about god, Pawlenty noted specifics.  But in a way, Pawlenty might want to avoid talking about his record.  Because he mentioned it, I did a little googling and found out that he signed into law a bill requiring hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.  But as noted in the last segment, Bachmann is on the warpath against Planned Parenthood, in part because they provide legal contraception services to minors in need.  So she may have a leg up on him in that department.

In fact, overall, Bachmann’s got Pawlenty beat when it comes to anti-choice hysteria.  Check out her speech from the House floor in 2008 on the subject.

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There’s so much wrong in there, I don’t even know where to begin, but let’s list: She assumes there was no abortion before it was legal. False, and in fact one reason that it was legalized was that illegal abortion was a public health crisis.  She assumes that every pregnancy aborted is an absolute loss, and not only that, but that the children they would have are missing, too.  That indicates that this isn’t about fetal life, per se, but an objection to limiting your family size.  Which indicates hostility to contraception, as well.  She suggests that people who choose abortion are and remain childless, which is patently false.  She calls abortion “violence”, when in fact women actually ask for abortion and most feel relieved afterwards.  She basically positions herself as an anti-choice radical. 

Compare that to Tim Pawlenty. 

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Even though Bachmann is a woman, let’s face it.  In a He Man Woman Hater’s Club contest, she totally wins.  Pawlenty did backtrack and his campaign corrected the record, saying he would throw doctors in jail.  But at the end of the day, he sounds weak and mealy-mouthed.  If you’re trying to win over the wild-eyed fundie base in the primaries, I think you have a much better shot pulling a Bachmann.  Pawlenty seems just a little too attached to reality to really pull it off.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, the last thing I’ll probably ever say about Anthony Weiner edition.  Martha Maccallum of Fox News defended the reporters who were yelling “pervert” at Weiner while he was resigning.

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You know, a lot of people made good points about how Weiner’s behavior crossed lines and was creepy. But unfortunately for them, the behavior of the press corps shows this had nothing to do with Weiner’s actual transgressions.  Yelling “pervert” at someone is basically confirming the suspicion that people were dogpiling Weiner because they’re prudes, not because they had actual moral objections to his actual bad behavior. 


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