The Pain of Late Term Abortion

The pain of late term abortion, the silliness of Fox News on abortion, the gayness of Dumbledore, and an interview with author Susan Ito all on this week's Reality Cast. Also, is birth control for middle schoolers really a bad idea?

Links in this episode:

Facing Reality: Choice
NPR on middle schoolers with birth control
Prime News on the same
FRC on the HPV vaccine
Gay Dumbledore
Jesus Camp
The abstinence song


This week, I'll be speaking with writer Susan Ito about her experience with later term abortion, discussing birth control for middle schoolers, and talking Harry Potter. Also, some skepticism about the Fox News documentary on abortion that claims to be even-handed.

Recently, the Bush administration slapped the pro-choice community in the face again, to no one's big surprise. The latest move inspired a "Worst Person In The World" segment on Keith Olbermann's show:

*insert olbermann orr*

I'm thinking Bush sees that the name of the office is "Family Planning" and assumes that means plan on being pregnant. Always.


Right wing propaganda network Fox News is airing a documentary on abortion that promises to be even-handed and fair, which I'll believe when I get a pony from them. From the clips on the website, it seems that "Facing Reality: Choice" is going to be all about promoting stereotypes about who gets abortions. They're interviewing two young, blonde women who find themselves facing unplanned pregnancies, and the first is Jeanne, who is the one who is pretty sure she wants an abortion.

*insert fox bad girl*

The clip then says that she is approximately 13 weeks pregnant with her 6th child—child, mind you, not pregnancy. Then it says, and I quote, "She is not 100% certain who the father is." Think they're trying to imply that all women who want abortions are huge sluts?

In contrast, Kayla, the girl they found who is far more wary of abortion is pretty much the essence of homecoming queen sweet angelic feminine perfection. And she's not a slut, but just the good girl led astray.

*insert sexy boyfriend*

But of course the cad abandons her when she turns up pregnant.

*insert boyfriend abandon*

So there you go, the two favorite anti-choice stereotypes of women who get abortions: evil sluts and foolish women who are bewitched by conniving men. I'm going to guess that the rest of the documentary continues in this vein, but I'm recording it so I can report on it later.


A school district in Portland, Maine, came into the sights of the anti-choice brigade when they made the no-doubt painful decision to start allowing middle school girls to access birth control pills through their health clinics. For those who insist on believing sexism is not a driving force of the anti-choice movement, it's worth noting that the school has offered condoms as part of its health services for a long time now. But once you start handing control over to girls, all hell breaks loose. The issue at stake is that the students are given blanket permission to use health services from their parents, and if they get that blanket permission, even the girls, and not just the boys, are allowed to get birth control devices without contacting their parents.

NPR, unlike most outlets, had a nice, responsible take on the controversy. They interviewed the irate head of the PTA, Tammy Green.

*insert tammy green*

Here's the issue: The notion that they're doing something *to* the girls. No girl will be forced to swallow a single birth control pill against her will. And while I appreciate that the whole situation makes people queasy, feeling queasy is not an argument. Tammy Green may not like the idea of her kid using contraception behind her back, but I'm going to guess that she likes the idea of her kid showing up pregnant even less.

"Prime News" hauled Charmaine Yoest from the Family Research Council in to raise the alarm, and only ended up showing how screwed up conservative priorities are on this.

*kids having sex bad idea*

He's acting like anyone is arguing with that. No one thinks young teenagers should be having sex. The question is whether or not teenagers getting pregnant is a bad idea. But Yoest reveals what truly worries her, and it's not that teenage girls will get off track with their lives and their education because of having babies. It's not the babies coming out at all that scares her, but the penises going in.

*insert multiple partners*

Remember, Yoest works for the Family Research Council, the same group that protested the HPV vaccine because they think that scaring women off having the dreaded multiple sex partners was more important than preventing cervical cancer. They're more worried about making sure that every man gets himself a virgin bride than the health and well-being of women and girls, as this little interview shows.

NPR let one of the school board members who voted for this policy 7-2 have her say, and she has her priorities straight.

*insert prevent one teen pregnancy*

And that's the problem with the arguments against this policy. People desperately want to believe that there's a silver bullet that will just make teenagers, especially young teenagers, not have sex and there's not. People are acting like the birth control pill works by making a bunch of otherwise well-behaved teenagers start humping each other in the street. It doesn't cause sex. Sex happens with or without it. Kids who are having sex too young have enough problems; we don't need to add to it by letting them get pregnant, too.


SUSAN ITO lives in Oakland with her multigenerational family. She is the co-editor of A Ghost At Heart's Edge: Stories & Poems of Adoption (North Atlantic Books). Her essays and fiction have appeared in Growing Up Asian American, Hip Mama, Making More Waves, the Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. She is the Fiction Co-editor at Literary Mama, an online literary journal, where she also writes a monthly column about life in the Sandwich Generation.

She's also contributed a story called "If" about her heart-breaking late term abortion in a new book called "Choice", an anthology of the real voices of women behind the rhetoric of the reproductive rights debate. She's here today to read an excerpt and talk a bit about her story.

*insert interview*


You've no doubt heard the exciting news: Dumbledore is gay!

*insert Dumbledore gay clip*

The hardcore fundamentalist community was already suspicious of the Harry Potter books, as you can tell from this clip from the movie "Jesus Camp".

*insert warlocks are enemies of god*

I've always thought this concern over warlocks was just a weak cover story anyway. I think they're more afraid that kids reading Harry Potter are kids not currently thinking about how much Jesus wants them to hate gays and gynecologists. Letting your mind have a break from right wing nonsense might give unbidden thoughts a chance to enter your brain through the back door. Thoughts like, "If Jesus was supposedly so anti-abortion, why didn't he bother to say anything about it?" And then next thing you know, good sense had set root in your brain and you can't get it out. Which means they've lost another member of the fold.


Now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts. This week's sex phobia comes in song form, from Robert Breaud.

*insert abstinence song*

It makes more sense if you pretend no one ever invented the condom. God Tube advertises this singer as good entertainment for the college crowd. Because nothing says hip and with it like a middle aged folk singer talking up the evils of fornication. Afterwards, everyone can pair off for some square dancing. That should go over well.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte