The Truth About Pro-Choicers


Amanda straightens out misconceptions about pro-choicers, celebrates Women on Waves, and interviews the editor for Sadie Magazine. Also: The money’s still in women bashing women.

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Links in this Episode:
Women in politics
Digg RH Reality Check
Vessel
Chris Matthews spreads misinformation
Mob Logic on abortion

Transcript:
This week on Reality Cast, I’ll be interviewing the editor
of a new teen girl magazine called Sadie.
Also, a documentary about Women On Waves, misinformation about
pro-choicers in the mainstream media, and more woman-bashing on MSNBC.

 

Thanks to Shireen Mitchell for posting an MP3 of a recent
appearance she and I made, along with Kim Gandy, on San Francisco’s KPFA to talk about Hillary
Clinton and women in politics.

 

  • insert
    women in politics

 

So I get to occasionally do non-podcast radio. But I like the podcast stuff best, and wanted
to take a moment to ask you to help out the show. You can either go to iTunes and leave a
review or go to Digg and Digg our podcast page.
Links should be available on the podcast page of RH Reality Check.

 

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

Oh this is awesome.
There’s a movie coming out called Vessel, about the Women on Waves
project.

 

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    women on waves 1

 

The trailer has a great quote from Robert Burns: "Every
generation gets the pirates it deserves."
Unfortunately for anti-choicers, pirates are still pretty hip. Lady pirates are really sexy, too. I know that this is a clinic and you have to
be very conservative to set at ease the more nervous women, but it would be
awesome if the security people working the boat were sporting bandanas and
eyepatches and feathered hats. Actually,
some do wear bandanas, so there’s that.

 

The trailer is absolutely fascinating, and I bet the movie
more so. The boat goes to countries
where abortion is banned and loads women up on the boat, takes them 12 miles
from shore, aborts their pregnancies, and drops them off at home. It’s basically legal. But because legal abortions are not known in
these countries, the boat landings turn into a 3 ring circus much of the time.

 

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    women on waves 2

 

I had heard of Women On Waves before, of course, but until I
saw the visuals from this trailer, I didn’t have a really good grasp of how
effective they are in translating the feminist viewpoint into visuals that
anyone can grasp and not misinterpret.
Here you have this boat with women getting on of their own free
will. And around the boat, mobs of angry
men screaming in anguish that this is happening and it’s not in their
control. It’ll take a lot of bloody
fetus pictures to erase the blatant truth captured in that moment. This is what this is about, and it’s
ugly. It’s men thinking women belong to
them. It’s them using the state to declare
that right.

 

Here’s the founder, Rebecca Gomperts, talking about some
other symbolic value to this project.

 

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    women on waves 3

 

I tend, as a rule, to be hostile to the idea of just
symbolic activism, because it’s easy for it to devolve into a time for people
to express themselves, and they lose focus.
In order for a public protest to work, it needs to be focused. What’s interesting about Women On Waves is
they avoid the problem of focus entirely because they have a mission and they
do it. They provide abortions. With actual abortion provision at their
center, the symbolic games play out on their own.

 

  • insert
    women on waves 4

 

The critical combination of focus, concrete action, and
creativity is powerful. Women On Waves
tried to dock in Portugal,
and was stopped. So Gomperts went on TV
and instructed women on how to do safe abortions at home with medication. The message was clear and to the point: Women will have abortions no matter
what, and the debate is whether or not they should be safe or dangerous. The result is that Portugal has legalized abortion in
the years since.

 

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

 

I’m so sick of all the misinterpretations out there about
pro-choicers. Why do people believe
such weird things about us? I have a
theory, and I think it goes back to the fair and balanced thing. It’s hard to be fair and balanced between
pro- and anti-choicers because one side, the pro-choice side, unfairly is the
reasonable and fact-based side. So, to
even it out, the media pretends that anti-choicers are more reasonable than
they are. The media hides how many of
them want to ban birth control and the links between abstinence-only and the
anti-abortion movements. And then, to
even it out even more, they say crazy things about pro-choicers that aren’t
even remotely true. Like Chris Matthews,
of course, on June 12th.

 

  • insert
    matthews lie

 

I’m going to assume he’s conflating "Democrats" with
pro-choicers, which is in itself a misleading statement. There are pro-choice Republicans and
anti-abortion Democrats, though to be fair, there’s not any Democrats in
Congress that I know of that are against contraception and education. To make it worse, Matthews said that right on
the tail of admitting that Obama is speaking frequently about increasing
funding for family planning and education.

 

You know who’s against contraception and education and you
know, reducing abortions?

 

  • insert
    more babies

 

Yes, that’s Leslee Unruh of Abstinence Clearinghouse,
arguing famously against the birth control pill, which prevents abortions, on
Fox. Unruh is a major player in the anti-choice movement, and like most leaders
in the movement, would like to see the abortion rate skyrocket by making it
nearly impossible to prevent unplanned pregnancy. And then they want to ban abortion so that
you have to get it in a back alley. All
this to maximize your punishment for having sex.

 

It’s they who are shutting down discussions about birth
control and education. They who pushed
abstinence-only into the classroom against the will of pro-choicers. Matthews couldn’t be more wrong. Not only are pro-choicers talking about the
means to reduce the abortion rate, we’re the only ones talking about it.

 

This kind of misinformation seeps out and infects the minds
of people who should know better.
Lindsay Campbell at Mob Logic put together a video where she seems a bit
self-congratulatory about being so different than most pro-choicers, but she’s
basing her opinion on some wrong information.
She says she’s pro-choice and then adds:

 

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    Lindsay

 

Actually, her opinion is the mainline pro-choice opinion.
Lindsay is bashing a strawman to make her point. The central argument of the pro-choice
movement is not based around fetal life so much as it is on the points she
brings up in the video—it’s too personal and private a choice to be left to
the authority of anyone but the person who is pregnant.

 

  • insert
    Lindsay 2

 

Once again, blame the anti-choicers. The pro-choice movement wasn’t spawned from
an esoteric desire to prove that fetuses aren’t people. It came out of the women’s movement. It was and always has been about women’s
rights, period. Our opposition tries to
make it about fetal life because they know that stating their true intentions
to oppress women would make them a lot less popular. Agreed, it’s a distraction. But disagreed that pro-choicers created the
distraction.

 

Okay, one more
strawman. I don’t want to make it seem
like I’m bashing Lindsay Campbell, who put together a good argument mostly and
is probably reaching people I’m not. But
she constructs her argument against mythological pro-choicers.

 

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    Lindsay 3

 

When people say this, they mean, "I don’t want abortion to
be used as casually as contraception."
Again, credit where it’s due and she admits that defining casually is
hard to do. But it’s still a
misinterpretation of reality. I’m about
as adamant a pro-choicer as they come. I
don’t think it’s a baby in any meaningful way until it’s got a functioning
brain. I think "life" really began 4
billion years ago in the primordial swamp and thus philosophical questions
about conception are silly. I think we mourn
miscarriages not because it’s a baby because we’re mourning the potential
lost. If we thought it was a baby, we’d
have funerals.

 

But even though I’m as radical as they come, I fall far
short of the pro-choicer she constructs in this video to argue with. I don’t think having an abortion is
casual. I’m religious about
contraception for that reason. Most pro-choicers are more conservative than me. But who’s to blame Lindsay? She lives in a world where the mainstream
media critically distorts the debate to make it seem more fair than it is. She’s just working with the false information
that she’s got.

 

**********

Now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts. MSNBC’s Hardball is still pushing the idea
that women are these inferior creatures that probably shouldn’t be allowed to
vote, much less run for office or have reproductive rights. This time the offender is talk show host
Heidi Harris.

 

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    heidi harris

 

There’s a lot of money to be made if you’re a woman willing
to bash other women like this, because it just sounds better coming from a
woman. But it’s so illogical, because if
women are just stupid, then doesn’t that mean that Heidi Harris is also stupid
and shouldn’t be listened to? Huh,
listen to me using logic, which is supposed to be againt my nature or
something.

 

 

 

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte