Browsing the archives for the abortion category.


War on Women Update

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abortion, Women's Issues

Dave Weigel has moved from Slate to Bloomberg News, at at Bloomberg he tells us that the GOP has a bigger and bigger problem with women voters.

The most interesting part, to me, is that in many races around the country Republicans are having to backstep and fudge and are genuinely on the defensive about their stands on “women’s issues,” including abortion. I can remember not many years ago it was conventional wisdom that socially liberal candidates should probably not discuss abortion unless directly asked about it, and then frame all responses in “safe, legal and rare” language.

But now the tables are turned, at least in some parts of the country, and now it’s Republican candidates who have to be careful to not come across as too extremely anti-choice. It seems the overreach of many Republican state legislators, as well as Republicans in Washington, to deny women not just abortion but even reasonable access to birth control has finally triggered the realization that Republicans are dangerous to women.

Again, looking back, I remember the “wink” campaign of George W. Bush in 2000. Dubya was explicitly anti-choice, but he had plenty of women surrogates winking at voters and saying, in effect, he doesn’t mean it. He has to say that to get elected. His mother is pro-choice; his wife is pro-choice. Don’t worry about it. But this truth is that Dubya never saw a women’s rights-restricting bill he wasn’t eager to sign. Fool me once, etc.

In Michigan, for example, Republican Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land ran what was supposed to be a “killer” ad pooh-poohing (with silence) the very idea that she was part of the war on women. Voters weren’t fooled; she’s now trailing her Democratic opponent among women voters by 17 points. “Land’s defense of her agenda that cuts access to mammograms, restricts access to contraception, and opposes equal pay for women is summed up in that now infamous 14 seconds of silence,” a Democratic spokesperson said.

I don’t think that Republicans entirely grasp that female genitalia do not a pro-women candidate make. It’s the issues, stupid.

Amanda Marcotte wrote recently that Republicans around the country are running away from “culture war” issues, notably same-sex marriage and access to birth control, and this is causing a rift between the GOP and the religious Right. Marcotte adds,

It’s almost possible to feel a small twinge of pity for the true believers on the religious right. For decades now, the Republican party has depended on them to endorse right wing ideology as a religious belief and to organize voters to get Republicans elected. But now the religious right is finding they only love you if they need you. Of course, religious conservatives shouldn’t fret too much. Just because Republican politicians may not want to engage in the culture war now doesn’t mean they won’t return to pushing the religious right’s agenda against gays and women once safely ensconced in office.

That’s probably true, although if (please) women’s votes cost the GOP the Senate in November, the next wink campaign may be aimed at religious conservatives.

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Compassion vs. Reince Priebus

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abortion, Republican Party

There was a brief flurry of mild amusement on some leftie blogs yesterday, as Chuck Todd appeared briefly to make a point. On Meet the Press he asked GOP frontman Reince Priebus about why Republicans oppose regulations on business except when the business is an abortion clinic.

And Priebus actually said, “The fact of the matter is we believe that any woman that’s faced with unplanned pregnancy deserves compassion, respect, counseling.” Seriously, he said that. It’s on the video.

Todd pressed (!) the point, asking how it could be compassionate to expect women “drive for 2 or 300 miles,” and Priebus changed the subject to taxpayer funding of abortion, which is one of the current phony issues/shiny sparkly things being dangled in front of the base to keep it focused. At this point, Todd reverted to form and failed to point out that taxpayer dollars are not, in fact, being used to fund abortions. As I said, it was a brief flurry.

The larger point is that Republicans have a weird view of “compassion” that matches their weird view of women. And their weird view of human reproduction, for that matter.

Republican Family Life

There’s a bunch of new data showing that a dramatic reduction in unwanted pregnancy — and, thereby, abortion — can be achieved by providing teenage girls and women with free counseling  and the contraception of their choice, also free. This cuts teen abortion rates by 75 percent.

As near as I can tell claims that taxes are funding abortions are based on two things: One, the exchange subsidies will pay for policies that include abortion coverage. To which I say, Oh, please. … The other is that tax money goes to Planned Parenthood, an organization that no doubt prevents more abortions than all the so-called “right to life” culties put together. Seriously, as the Fetus People make family planning services more out of reach for low income women, they should pick up their “baby killer” signs and start picketing each other.

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What We Don’t See

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abortion, big picture stuff, Social Issues, Women's Issues

Of all the conceits common to humankind possibly the most insidious is that any of us are entirely rational. And often the most irrational people are those who brag about how rational they are.

Even if a person’s basic reasoning skills are sound, the outcome of his reasoning nearly always will be imperfect. That’s because nearly all of us “live” within limited conceptual frameworks that filter and sort information in artificial ways. The way we conceptually interface with reality is based partly on our own experience and partly on how we are culturally conditioned to understand things.  And most of us are blind to this, because if we and everyone we know is artificially filtering and sorting information in pretty much the same way, we assume our understanding of reality is the only possible one.

(I wrote quite a lot about this in my book, by the way, explaining the way our limited conceptual frameworks have impacted religion and have largely rendered it ridiculous, but it doesn’t have to be that way.)

Breaking out of the conceptual box we live in usually takes some extraordinary experience — and often a shocking one — to see that we’re living in an artificial world and that the “real” one outside the limits of our awareness is largely alien to us. And most of us amble through life without ever having that experience.

Even though few of us ever perceive that we’re living inside a conceptual box, if we run into people whose conceptual boxes are very different from ours we think those people just don’t understand the real world (meaning our “real world”). I could define maturity, even wisdom, as the ability to appreciate  and respect that other people’s “worlds” are just as valid as ours even if they are wildly different. I wrote a few years ago,

My view is that everything we think comes from a complex of psychological discriminations and impulses, little of which have anything to do with “logic.” The way we understand ourselves and the world begins to be shaped from the moment we’re born and continues to be shaped by the culture we grow up and live in. In other words, all of our understandings are biased. This is pervasive and inescapable. Often the difference between “logical” and “empathic” people is that an “empathic” person has at least a dim appreciation of his own biases, whereas a “logical” person is utterly oblivious to them. …

… Our conscious, cognitive understandings of things are based on internalized models of what we’ve been conditioned to believe is “normal.” We may be able to articulate our ideas and perceptions in a coolly logical way, but the process by which we arrive at our ideas and perception is “complex, unconscious and emotional.” This is always true, whether we want to admit it or not. …

… Generally being “fair” is not losing one’s biases, but perceiving one’s biases as biases. If you recognize your biases as biases, you are in a position to overrule them as the facts dictate. But if you are so unconscious of yourself that you don’t recognize your biases as biases, then your “thinking” generally amounts to casting around for support for your biases. Then you put the biases and the cobbled-together “support” together and call it “reason.”

And this takes me to what we don’t see. I’ve written before about the “default norm” syndrome, also called the invisible baseline fallacy, which in our culture means white maledom is the default norm, and perspectives and experiences that deviate from those common to white men are not respected as legitimate. If you are a woman or racial minority in this country you have bumped into this iron wall of assumption many times, but the iron wall is invisible to a lot of white men. Not all, thank goodness.

This is basically the same thing that people are calling “male privilege” or “white privilege,” although I don’t like those terms. The degree to which one’s assumptions, biases and experiences are “privileged” depends on a complex of factors that include health or physical condition, class, and wealth. A white male lower-income paraplegic is considerably less “privileged” than the Koch brothers, for example. As wealth inequality becomes more extreme a whole lot of white people are being left behind to a degree I believe is unprecedented in American history, and I assure you most of these people don’t feel all that “privileged.”

Money is privilege. People who have always been financially comfortable have no idea how much lack of money can be an obstacle to basic functionality in our society. The poor are taxed in myriad ways, from paying higher bank account fees on their meager balances — causing the very poor to not use banks at all, but then one must use check cashing services that also take a bite. Without a car you take public transportation, which eats a lot more time out of your day. And if you don’t have money for a bus you simply don’t go anywhere out of walking distance, which puts a huge limit on your job opportunities. Those left out of Medicaid expansion still have limited access to health care, and chronic, debilitating conditions often go untreated. Poor parents often are caught in the day care trap — they aren’t paid enough to afford reliable day care, but without that it’s hard to hold a job at all. So one is perpetually making seat-of-the-pants arrangements with people to watch the children, and then worrying if the kids are safe. Etc. etc. Many conveniences people with money take for granted are not available to the poor, and the inconveniences pile up and make day-to-day life an exhausting exercise in barely coping.

And then it is assumed the poor can’t get ahead because they are lazy. And it is just about impossible to explain the problem to someone who has been cocooned from it. It’s not part of his, or her, experience; therefore, it isn’t “real.”

As a woman I am sometimes surprised at how much even liberal men are oblivious to the extreme misogyny that still lingers in our culture. I wrote earlier this year,

Even those of us who have never experienced physical assault have experienced sexual intimidation, belittling and humiliation, aimed at us only because of our gender. And most of the time we put up with it, because what else can we do? Confronting some sexist bozo could turn an unpleasant situation into something genuinely dangerous. So how has the political Right responded to #YesAllWomen? Mostly with more belittling. Charles Cooke at NRO, for example, dismisses the social media phenomenon as “groupthink.” We women can’t possibly know our own experiences, apparently, and simply imagine misogyny because we’ve read about it.

Especially to conservatives, problems that middle- and upper-income white men rarely if ever encounter are not “real” issues worthy of being addressed by society or government, but are exceptions that the individuals affected must take care of on their own. The fact that these issues may impact all of us, directly or indirectly, and that the cause may be widespread cultural and institutional bias that upper-income whites feed on a daily basis, is invisible to them.  And you can’t explain it to them. No amount of real-world data or well-constructed logic makes dent in the iron wall. If it doesn’t conform to the conceptual box they live in, it can’t be true.

This is why it is good to have diversity of experience represented in decision-making bodies such as governments, for example. White men like to tell themselves they can make decisions that affect everybody else just fine because they will apply reason. But their reason is based on biased perspectives that fail to take many things into account. Publius provides a good example here — many rape laws used to require a woman to show she had resisted an assault to prove she had not consented. But this is a male-centric view. A woman understands that if she is being assaulted by a violent man much stronger than she is, her only hope of surviving may be in not resisting. (I remember a bitter joke from many years ago that the only woman almost certain to win a rape case is a dead nun.)

And don’t get me started on reproductive issues. Just a few days ago I was told I was too emotional because I passionately disagreed that abortion must be criminalized. Naturally it was a man, who will never be pregnant, who said this. Yes it’s easier to be emotionally detached from a issue when it’s not personal, and when the real-world experiences and consequences of that issue are merely hypothetical. It’s easier to be emotionally detached when you’re behind the iron wall.

Michael Brown is being buried today. If his killing, and what we’ve learned about Ferguson, hasn’t given us a clear picture of the evils and pervasiveness of institutional racism I don’t know what else will. Yet just last week I encountered a forum populated largely by white men who couldn’t understand why people are always going on about race. Why is race such a big deal? Isn’t it  all about making white men feel guilty?

But I certainly don’t give a rodent’s posterior whether anybody feels guilty. Guilt doesn’t so much as butter toast. Our country is becoming increasingly dysfunctional, in part because our institutions, especially government, increasingly reflect the views of only the most sheltered and privileged among us. And it is increasingly unresponsive to everyone else. And, weirdly, a big chunk of the population being left behind still clings to the cognitive biases that support policies that are hurting them.  Their collective conceptual frameworks are not adjusting; they still can’t see past the iron wall.

See also: Andrew O’Hehir, “White Privilege: An Insidious Virus That’s Eating America from Within.”

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We Don’t Call ‘Em American Taliban for Nothing

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abortion, Supreme Court, Terrorism

It strikes me that the right-wing Christianists celebrating the Hobby Lobby decision are an unimaginative crew. This might be expected of people who combine dogmatic literalism with a myopic inability to perceive the difference between their own culturally induced bigotries and God. The degree to which they are shooting themselves in the foot is revealed in a New Yorker commentary by Steve Coll, Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York.

Tehrik-e-Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, is a closely held, profit-making enterprise organized on religious principles. One of its principles, announced as public policy in July, 2012, is that children should not be inoculated against polio, because the vaccines violate God’s law. So sincere are the Taliban’s religious beliefs that its followers have assassinated scores of public-health workers who have attempted to administer polio vaccines in areas under Taliban control or influence. …

… If the Pakistani Taliban, aided by clever lawyers, organized a closely held American corporation, and professed to run it on religious principles, might its employees be deprived of insurance coverage to inoculate their children against polio? And would the Supreme Court, by the five-to-four decision issued on Monday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores and in Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell, endorse such a move?

Coll acknowledges that before this could happen the Taliban would have to jump through some challenging hoops, such as their status in the U.S. as a terrorist organization. And the part about assassinating people would touch on other areas of law, unrelated to the Affordable Care Act, that might get them into trouble even in “murder at will” states like Florida. However, maybe if they came out for open carry … well, that’s another argument.

Here’s the meat of Coll’s argument:

Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the Court’s conservative majority, sought to evade such thought exercises by predicting, without evidence, that there will not be “a flood of religious objections regarding a wide variety of medical procedures and drugs, such as vaccinations and blood transfusions.”

Why not? Is it because the justices do not intend to extend their reasoning to companies that hold religious views less proximate to their own Christian beliefs? Or because the judges believe that they can enforce what they imagine to be a rational or permissible resistance to reproductive rights for women, while blocking what they might see as irrational resistance to transfusions and vaccines?

In other words, as Dahlia Lithwick argued the other day, either the justices intend to show favoritism to “mainstream” (in their minds) Christianity, denying other religions the same privileges, or they think women’s reproductive health is a less serious medical issue than, for example, blood transfusions. There really is no other way to interpret Alito’s argument.

The Right argues that these medical procedures would not be blocked, because the employees could still obtain them and pay for them out of their own pockets. But here in Real World Land, the cost of such things could be out of reach, especially for employees making minimum wage. Add several children, and you might as well tell the employees they can buy a gold-plated yacht while they’re at it. Also, it’s not just the Taliban with issues about vaccines, is it?

And here’s the central issue:

Perhaps the Supreme Court’s majority cannot fully imagine that religiously motivated litigants—Muslim, Christian Scientist, Hindu, or other—as qualified and as American as the Hobby Lobby owners might ultimately use Monday’s ruling to enforce beliefs far outside of the decades-long campaign of Christian evangelicals and Catholics to limit the reproductive rights of women. If so, that is another failure of their reasoning, one that exposes what really seems to have gone on in this decision: four longtime adherents to the deeply rooted conservative movement to limit or ban abortion in the United States, joined by a fifth willing to defer to them, saw in the Hobby case an opportunity to advance their cause incrementally, and they reasoned to achieve that end—not, as their opinion claims, to construct a sustainable framework of religious resistance to public-health laws.

The Right is perpetually screaming that we are about to be placed under sharia law. Sharia law, as I understand it, is interpreted many different ways, and I don’t want to join into demonizing it here. But the Right doesn’t seem to appreciate that the Hobby Lobby decision potentially opens the door to exactly this — a company with Muslim owners could potentially enforce its Islamic views on the employees.

The pre-Hobby Lobby understanding of separation of church and state would have prevented sharia law from being involuntarily applied to non-Muslims in the U.S. That’s not quite so clear now. It seems to me that the only way the HL decision wouldn’t open the door to all kinds of religious impositions on employees is if the courts set themselves up as arbiters of what religious beliefs are legitimate and which not, First Amendment be damned.

I like this bit:

Because campaigners against reproductive rights have successfully mainstreamed their views within institutions like the Supreme Court, those views no longer seem radical even to many of their opponents. The Taliban have not similarly legitimized their philosophy because they are so indiscriminately violent and repressive, among other reasons. (Some religiously motivated radicals have assassinated abortion providers in the United States, but the gunmen are not commonly referred to here as terrorists.)

I argue from time to time that the only difference between our domestic right-wing extremists — and not just the religious ones — and Islamic terrorists is in degree, not in kind. Of course people who bomb abortion clinics or assassinate doctors — or even threaten to assassinate doctors — are terrorists. Here’s the dictionary definition of “terrorism”:

the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal
the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion

So, yes, many abortion clinic “protesters” are terrorists. But we can’t call them terrorists because their opinions have been “mainstreamed.” A group doing exactly the same thing to banks that the Fetus People do to abortion clinics would be called terrorists. No question. So clinic protesters are allowed to get away with terrorism because some courts, and much of the public, sympathize with their cause, not because they aren’t actually terrorists.

Bottom line, extremist right-wing dogmatic Christians get a pass, because they are “mainstream.” I suspect Islamic extremism got its first footholds in the Middle East the same way.

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Buffer Zones Are Gone

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abortion, Supreme Court

SCOTUS has found Massachusetts “buffer zones” around abortion clinics to be unconstitutional. This doesn’t surprise me. I am, however, stunned to learn this was a unanimous decision. Some guy actually is arguing that liberals won.

True, Roberts’s opinion, joined by the court’s four doubtless relieved liberals, struck down the buffer as a violation of the free-speech rights of pro-life activists who seek to converse with women who might be seeking abortions. But the crucial element in the opinion — the one that got the liberals on board and enraged the conservatives — is that Roberts said the law was neutral with respect to the content of speech as well as the viewpoint of the speakers. That conclusion protected the possibility of other laws protecting women seeking abortions that pay more attention to what Roberts said was missing here, namely proof that the law was narrowly tailored. For the liberals, that was enough to get on board.

I’m reading that Don Scalia is furious with the majority opinion, which apparently stopped short of declaring open season on abortion providers.

I haven’t had time to wrap my head around this. However, I do think that if the anti-abortion “protesters” were handled like the public nuisances, dangerous bullies and sometimes terrorists they actually are, we wouldn’t need “buffer zones.” As I wrote in my book,

Let’s try a thought experiment: Let’s say a number of people decide that banks are evil. This group then targets banks to picket. But they don’t stop with picketing. They chain themselves to doors. They try to stop bank customers from entering. They yell at people to keep their money at home and not let it mingle with the infernal financial system. They set up websites displaying photos and names of bank employees and where they live, hinting that maybe somebody could just eliminate these people. Banks are vandalized and even bombed. Some bank managers are assassinated.

Now, how many nanoseconds would pass before law enforcement and the FBI call this movement domestic terrorism and shut it down? No one outside the anti-bank cult would stand for this. But when the context involves women, sex, and religion instead of money and business, somehow, it’s different.

It’s only because the well-being and concerns of women are not taken seriously that the buffer zones were necessary.

See also “Do what we tell you to do, or we will kill you” and an extended excerpt from my book here.

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When Anti-Choicers Choose

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abortion

It appears today is the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Here’s an eye-opening page of accounts of what happens when an abortion clinic picketer encounters an unwanted pregnancy. They want an abortion, of course, but they think their case is “different.”

Many anti-choice women are convinced that their need for abortion is unique — not like those “other” women — even though they have abortions for the same sorts of reasons. Anti-choice women often expect special treatment from clinic staff. Some demand an abortion immediately, wanting to skip important preliminaries such as taking a history or waiting for blood test results. Frequently, anti-abortion women will refuse counseling (such women are generally turned away or referred to an outside counselor because counseling at clinics is mandatory). Some women insist on sneaking in the back door and hiding in a room away from other patients. Others refuse to sit in the waiting room with women they call “sluts” and “trash.” Or if they do, they get angry when other patients in the waiting room talk or laugh, because it proves to them that women get abortions casually, for “convenience”.

I remember reading about an abortion provider who said that whenever a woman came to her for abortion and said, “I’m not one of those women who gets abortions,” the doctor said “Oh, OK, I don’t guess you need me then.” And the woman would be refused treatment. That sounds harsh, but on the page linked it says that anti-choice women who get abortions will sometimes turn around and sue the clinic for some trumped up reason.

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New Adventures of the Fetus People

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abortion

If this doesn’t make you want to bite the wall and howl at the moon, nothing will.

An abortion clinic sitting in a residential area of Wichita, Kansas poses a safety hazard to the surrounding community, pro-life activists argued to the Wichita City Council this week.

This is the abortion clinic that once was operated by the late George Tiller, who was murdered by a “right to life” activist. Keep that in mind.
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Representatives from local pro-life groups, including Kansans for Life, Operation Rescue, Word of Life Church and the Kansas Coalition for Life, appeared in front of the Wichita City Council Tuesday to convince government officials to rezone the neighborhood surrounding South Wind Women’s Center to prohibit abortions. The clinic is located on the city’s eastside at Kellogg and Bleckley.

The pro-life representatives told city council that South Wind Women’s Center poses a safety threat to the surrounding residential community, and employees at the clinics are often aggressive towards pro-life advocates seeking to provide pregnancy alternatives to women entering the clinic.

“Some of the clinic workers are aggressive and harassing toward the pro-life people who are attempting to offer help to abortion-bound women. An escalation of their hostile behavior has every possibility of spilling out into the neighborhood, causing a safety concern to residents along Bleckley,” Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy advisor for Operation Rescue, one of the pro-life groups present at the meeting, told the council. “An abortion business does not belong in a residential neighborhood,” Sullenger added, according to LifeSite news.

What they are saying here is that because they are are aggressive and obnoxious jerks who harass women entering the clinic, and sometimes the clinic staff express a hostile attitude about this, the clinic must be moved.

The pro-life groups also argued in a joint press release that it is inappropriate for schoolchildren commuting past the clinic to see protest signs depicting graphic images relating to abortion.

Yes, you read that right. They want the neighborhood to be shielded from the inappropriate signs they are carrying. The clinic must be moved somewhere where they can be obnoxious and carry inappropriate signs with impunity, or something.

It gets better. Today one of the Fetus People accused the clinic of trying to provoke a shooting incident. Like the one that killed George Tiller, maybe?

Mark Gietzen, chairman of the Kansas Coalition for Life, said he believes the South Wind Women’s Center is allowing volunteers to escort women into the clinic in hopes that they will harass the anti-abortion protesters outside and provoke a shooting. He said Julie Burkhart, the founder and owner of the clinic, would blame the incident on the protesters in order to raise money.

Gietzen also said it’s possible that the father or boyfriend of the woman seeking an abortion might show up to the clinic angry and armed because they disapprove of the abortion, and a security guard or nearby protester could end up getting shot.

Are we biting the wall yet?

Wonkette:

Haha, we think that is supposed to be a joke, but godDAMN, it’s a bad one, isn’t it? Everyone knows that most “pro-lifers” are really super nice people who do not do violent things or terrorize anyone, and that the most prominent “pro-life” organizations do not condone violence. Except those like, say, the most famous “pro-life” organization, Operation Rescue, which hired Cheryl Sullenger as its senior policy advisor after she served her time in federal prison for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic, but hey, she has SO renounced violence since then, and it’s a TOTES coincidence that she helped Scott Roeder stalk Dr. Tiller and then murder him. That was an isolated incident anyway. Just like the thousands and thousands and THOUSANDS of other isolated incidents of violence and terrorism by “pro-lifers” against doctors and their patients.

Besides, as Gietzen points out, it’s really the clinic’s fault for provoking and antagonizing the protesters in the first place, what with the clinic being there and all, and if the clinic does not want to get blowed up, or its employees and volunteers and patients do not want to get shot, well, then, the clinic just shouldn’t be there, should it?

I say the FPs are terrorists, and they should be treated as such.

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Funny Guy

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abortion

Erick Erickson thinks coat hanger abortions are hilarious. And, y’know, in 1972, the year before Roe V. Wade was decided, only 39 women in America died from back-alley abortions. which Son of Erick says is proof that the dangers of abortion are more myth than reality.

I am thinking unwholesome thoughts. Bad Buddhist.

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The Many Hidden Agendas

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abortion, Immigration, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Regarding abortion — the Fetus People perpetually accuse “pro-aborts” of just wanting to kill babies. Giving women control over their own lives and bodies doesn’t register with the FPs.

But what is their agenda? “Saving babies” doesn’t make sense when you acknowledge that criminalizing abortion doesn’t stop it. It doesn’t seem even to reduce it. Abortion rates tend to be higher in countries where it is illegal than where it is legal. Restricting access to legal abortion just drives it underground. The one factor that does make a measurable difference in reducing abortion rates is use of contraceptives.

There is copious data from many studies over many years supporting these facts. Yet the hard-core FPs remain fixated on criminalizing abortion, closing clinics, and restricting access to birth control and sex education. It’s illogical.

Well, unless “saving babies” isn’t the real agenda.

I’ve come to think there are two kinds of hidden agendas. One is about greed and gain. The other is emotional and psychological, and almost always is buried so deeply in the pysche that people who have it deny to themselves it is there. Demagoguery is all about the people with the first kind of agenda manipulating the people with the second kind of agenda.

In the case of the Fetus People, the only agenda I can think of that makes consistent sense is a fear and loathing of female sexuality. All those copulating women have to be controlled! The FPs will deny this, but this is not a crew famous for self-awareness.

Politicians in conservative districts have been demagoguing this issue for years, because it’s a big, fat button to push that gets big results. So the politicians have been acting from the first kind of hidden agenda. But in recent years, I believe, more and more people suffering from the second kind have been getting into office, especially at state level, and they will not rest until those womenfolk have been properly brought back under patriarchal control. They’ll still get abortions, of course, but they’ll have to do so secretly, illegally, and thereby shamefully. That’s what’s important.

But it’s not just abortion. Let’s look at economic policy. Please do read “Can libertarian populism save the Republican Party?” by Mike Konczal. A bit:

The specifics of a libertarian populist agenda are often lacking, but advocates sometimes point to to things like Rand Paul’s budget plan. This is a plan that calls for flat taxes, cutting discretionary spending through a balanced budget and removing the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate to promote low inflation and high employment.

This brings to mind Eugene Mirman’s joke about bears, where he notes that the common notion that you should play dead if you see a bear “is a rumor that bears spread.” Similarly, the idea that reducing the tax burden on the rich while calling for tighter money and deregulation counts as “populism” sure seems like a rumor spread by the 1 percent.

Yet all kinds of people well down in the 99 percent ranks will support this, partly because they don’t understand it but mostly because there is something about the way the plan will be marketed that appeals to their psychological and emotional issues.

Here’s another one — the bleeping border fence. Is that stupid, or what? Joshua Holland writes,

Only about half of the country’s unauthorized immigrants entered illegally through the Southern border to begin with. And with illegal entries at a 40-year low, and the undocumented population down by a million from its 2007 peak, the right’s fetish for security spending is shaping up to be a boondoggle for giant defense contractors with a consistent track record of bungling past efforts to “secure the border.” . . .

…Reached by phone in Chihuahua, Mexico, Tom Barry, a senior analyst at the Center for International Policy and author of “Border Wars,” told Salon that the effort is simply “absurd.” “Border patrol agents are tripping over themselves now,” he said. “They have nothing to do. They’re reading magazines in their trucks. If they increase the force by the levels they’re talking about now, you’ll have measures of boredom and waste that are almost inconceivable.”

It’s not just a fence, of course, but I’ve spent enough time on rightie websites to know they have a huge emotional investment in a fence. Maybe it’s just that there’s something about a fence that their little minds can understand, but I suspect also they have a deep emotional/psychological need to have a real physical barrier between themselves and those Brown People.

And, of course, the defense industry will make out like banditos. It’s a perfect storm of agendas.

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Anti-Choice Chicken

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abortion

In Chile there’s an 11-year-old girl impregnated by her mother’s boyfriend, and doctors say the pregnancy is putting the child’s life at risk. But Chile has very strict abortion laws that make no provision for life of the mother, not to mention rape. And it appears the government is not going to make an exception in her case.

In a way it’s a shame the child’s plight has been made public, because Chile has the highest abortion rate in Latin America. Chilean women are getting abortions; they just aren’t getting them legally. But if this child’s very public pregnancy were to suddenly go away, she’d probably be arrested.

Could this happen here? Hell, yes. Some of the troglodytes sincerely believe that there are no circumstances in which a pregnancy has to be terminated to save the mother; that “life of the mother” is just a dodge for the abortion industry. (And if you want to read something really twisted, here’s a creep arguing against termination of ectopic pregnancy.) So, yeah, there are people Out There who would make the U.S. the Chile of the North.

It seems to me that a lot of right-wing politicians are playing at a kind of abortion brinksmanship these days. How far can they go to please their atavistic base without completely blowing it with general election voters? Obviously Todd Akin and Joe Walsh went too far. But Marco Rubio is planning to introduce a 20-week abortion ban in the Senate that makes no provision for health of the mother. Rape, incest, and life of the mother are too close to the brink, but eliminating the health exception might be enough to show he is serious.

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