Dana Goldstein spells out the role abortion plays in the health care debate. Plus, a segment on media coverage of abortion in health care, and rock against sex.
Links in this episode:
On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be talking with Dana
Goldstein about the role of abortion in the health care debates, and another
segment looking at NPR’s coverage of the issue. Also, anti-sex rock music is as bad as you’d imagine it
At the current rate we’re going, we’re going to lose 100% of
the moral scolds in Congress before
the 2010 elections. The
latest victim of the "do as I say, not as I do" school is Mississippi
Congressman Chip Pickering.
Watch the whole clip from Rachel Maddow. She also covers how
The Family, a secretive religious group in D.C., has links to all these
Just in case you were hoping that the need for health care
reform is so great that anti-choicers would have the good taste to lay back and
not make the issue all about their strong need to find every way possible to
squash a woman’s right to control her own fertility, well, I hate to squash
your hopes. NPR had a report on
the way that anti-choice members of Congress are trying to leverage health care
reform to make sure that women who need abortion can’t get insurance coverage
The whole situation is confusing, but from what I can tell,
what an amendment like this could do is actually take coverage away from women
who already receive insurance coverage for abortion. Right now, insurance companies have a right to cover
abortion if they want, and it’s actually not all that uncommon to cover
it. But if the government starts
subsidizing the purchase of private insurance, then women who receive those
subsidies won’t, under this amendment, be allowed to buy insurance that offers
There’s a real irony here, in that opponents to health care
reform are turning to their base and telling them to be afraid because health
care reform means that the government will dictate what kind of care you can
get. But the very same people are
the ones most aggressively trying to use health care reform to restrict access
to health care, if it’s abortion care. This hypocrisy doesn’t, as you can
imagine, matter much to conservatives.
The whine is that tax dollars shouldn’t fund abortion
services in any way, shape, or form.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse had a great retort to that nonsense.
Senator Whitehouse, don’t give them any ideas. You probably
think there’s a limit to the creative ways anti-choicers will seek to curtail
the freedom of women that have been having unauthorized sexual intercourse, but
there’s not. For all we know,
they’d probably also be interested in writing legislation forbidding women who
have abortions to breath the same air as everyone else.
As much as pro-choicers would love it if women’s
reproductive health care was a mandatory part of health care reform, we’ll be
lucky if some of it like cancer screening, HPV vaccinations, and contraception
are covered. All these sorts of
things are easy enough to use to provoke anger and fear over female sexuality,
and use that to bully this coverage out of the bill. But while mandating abortion coverage is the right thing to
do, it’s also about as likely as Rush Limbaugh growing a heart.
This hasn’t stopped anti-choice nuts from being paranoid,
though. For some reason, NPR
allows Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life lie about the issue.
I can’t honestly think of a better example of how
conservatives exploit people’s fears of sexuality and their easy to manipulate
emotions about abortion to garner support for other conservative agenda items
that openly hurt their workaday supporters. I have little doubt that most of the everyday people who
call themselves "pro-life" would be better off if we passed universal health
care and guaranteed that they could get health care no matter how sick they
get. So how do you get people to
oppose a government program that could help them out substantially? Well, apparently you lie to them and
tell them that they’ll be paying money to girls that are out there having all
these sexual adventures without you, and that will distract enough of them so
that they won’t see that in the end, they’re the ones who will lose out if
universal health care doesn’t pass.
Oh my god, I have to thank Heather Corinna for introducing
me to a couple of anti-choice podcasts.
Thank her and curse her, because as usual, I’m left with a mix of
amusement at the stupidity, horror at the mean-spiritedness, and pity, because
anti-choice pitches are aimed straight at lonely, desperate, mixed-up people
and it’s repulsive. But listening
to the Rock For Life podcast, hilarity wins out, because I’m a huge music snob
and Christian rock, particularly if it’s aggressively promoting right wing
politics, is just so relentlessly awful.
I mean, it’s obvious why the Christian right has developed oxymoronic
terms like "Rock For Life", which is right wing code for "Rock Against Sexual
Liberation". It’s the same reason
they try to get hot women to be the spokeswomen for abstinence and they put
nubile teenage girls at the front of their parades. They want you to think that being anti-sex is so very, very
But who falls for this strategy? The music fails to convey the message. Fundamentalism is about draining
yourself of all the things that give rock music its spark. It’s not just sex, but having a sense
of humor and a willingness to play around with gender and generally to thwart
the rules set by the uptight establishment. They don’t call it the devil’s music for nothing.
rock 1 *
From what I can tell of the lyrics, it’s the same old
anti-choice themes they use to lure in the sad and the lonely. Everything’s a play on this existential
terror and fear of death, with a not subtle implication that banning abortion
will resolve your existential dilemmas. That’s why anti-choicers like to both
ask what would happen if you were aborted and to tell people that they’d have
all these great friends if abortion wasn’t legal. Illogical assertions, of course, but effective on people who
probably do have a strong fear of death and/or are lonely. This song even uses imagery of
breathing to play on these fears, even though fetuses, of course, do not
I’m completely unshocked that fundies gravitate towards
Cookie Monster metal as a genre.
Most of rock history has been marked with having a sense of humor,
sexiness, and a sense of playfulness with gender, from Little Richard’s
outrageous costumes to David Bowie’s androgyny to Kurt Cobain’s willingness to
wear women’s clothes and write songs exploring feminist themes. For men who want to rock out but have a
lot of gender anxiety and misogyny, then, you see these forms of heavy metal
that are all about masculinity displays that are so over the top that they’re
funny to outsiders, though deadly serious to the men who like this stuff.
It’s completely unshocking, then, that anti-choicers would
be attracted to this grim, over-serious form of cock rock.
They had some segments on the podcast, including some
hysteria about this podcast, but I’m kind of more interested in the really
horrible music. Here’s another
stinker they highlight, a band called Venia:
rock 2 *
Yeah, you heard stuff about heart beats in there. This band reminds me of every terrible
wannabe hard core band I’ve been subjected to, and yeah, the atmosphere at a
cock rock show is usually incredibly hostile to women. I can’t say, however, that I’ve ever
heard anything as nasty as this.
The band seems to think that they can just scream at women until women
submit. Most bands I’ve ever heard
like this have audiences that are about 99% male, reminding me of a friend of
mine’s argument that if your band doesn’t have any female fans, it’s probably
because you suck.
But it’s not all bullying and terrible heavy metal. There is plenty of room for whiny and
terrible would-be indie rock. Just
because you don’t scream like Cookie Monster doesn’t mean that you can’t find
entire other ways to be silly and overwrought.
Obvious? Check. Humorless? Check. Playing on people’s
loneliness and fears of rejection? Check.
This is all very depressing, but I thought I’d end on a
cheerier note. The podcast I got
these songs from is called Rock For Life, which is an obvious rip-off of Rock
For Choice, an effort to raise funds and awareness for abortion rights that was
started in 1991 by a band that most decisively doesn’t suck, which is L7. Really, they’re one of my favorite all
time bands, and are everything that these bands I’ve profiled aren’t: sexy,
fun, and full of humor. So here’s one of their songs:
- l7 *
Oh yeah, and they’re all women. Rock for Choice has had tons of shows, and the Foo Fighters,
Iggy Pop, Bikini Kill, Joan Jett and Liz Phair have all played it.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, sounds like a fantasy to
me edition. Congress is trying to
overturn a ban on abortion funding in the District of Columbia, over the
protests of conservatives who think that being poor means that you absolutely
must be punished with mandatory childbirth. Representative Todd Tiahrt got a little carried away
fantasizing about women who are fiending for the pleasures of having their
uteruses vacuumed out for fun on the government dime.
He also mentioned Clarence Thomas, imbuing his comments with
a racist sentiment that was more revealing of his prejudices than he realized.
I love the idea of a financial incentive, by the way. Does he think that people would get other kinds of surgery
for the hell of it just because it’s free? Like if we started giving away free dental care, people
would want their teeth drilled even if they don’t have cavities, because
uncomfortable medical procedures are just that fun?