Abortion: Live Tweeting It, Using It As A Weapon Against Health Care


Health care opponents keep wielding abortion as a weapon. Also, a woman live tweets her abortion and a young film director talks about her documentary about the virginity movement

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Links in this episode:

Judge Judy on “The View”

The lie continues

And continues

Angie the Antitheist

Trent Franks thinks abortion is worse than slavery

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be interviewing a young film director who made a movie about the virginity movement.  Also, the abortion and health care reform thing will not die, and a woman chronicles her abortion online to much outcry.

Judge Judy laid down the law on the “The View”. 

  • judge judy *

It was really funny, but I wish she hadn’t reinforced the myth that women wait that long. On the contrary, most women who want abortions can’t wait for it to be over.

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Now that Democrats in Congress have decided that they’re going to move on health care reform using the reconciliation process to go around the Republicans’ standing order to filibuster all Senate bills introduced by Democrats, desperation is afoot.  Even though there’s frankly no excuse for the pro-health care Democrats to have taken this long, the fact that they haven’t given up is sending opponents of health care reform scrambling.  And you know what that means—more screeching about abortion in an effort to get people to stop thinking about how they need health care and start freaking out because their neighbors keep having sex like they have a right.

Which means that opponents of health care reform are going to claim that the bill has federal funding for abortion in it no matter how many ways that conservative Democrats rewrite it to keep women from getting insurance coverage for abortion. Peter Johnson of Fox News dropped that misinformation. 

  • abortion 1 *

There’s no word for that but “lie”.  The only thing the Stupak amendment does is prevents women from using their own money to buy insurance.  The original plan to keep the status quo was to make it so none of the federal subsidies that went to insurance companies would go to abortion, but Stupak has banned individuals receiving federal funding from  using their own money to pay for abortion insurance. 

Of course, Bart Stupak is still out there claiming that his amendment does less than it does, and that there’s some secret special plan from the Obama administration to fund abortions. 

  • abortion 2 *

I left that little bit in from a Fox News anti-choice propaganda piece, because I think it really leads into the second part of the segment.  What this report makes clear is that this isn’t really about abortion per se.  Like the report overtly said, this is an attack on the ability of women’s health clinics to keep their doors open.  Which means that this is also an attack on contraception, cancer screening, infertility treatments, you name it—anything to improve the reproductive health care of women.  The hope is to put a financial squeeze on clinics until they have to shut their doors.

I think anti-choice hopes that cutting off abortion funding will destroy contraception and cancer screening and vaccinations are hopes that are too high.  Abortion is a really small part of the income stream for places like Planned Parenthood, and even clinics that specialize in abortion aren’t likely to shut their doors because of lack of insurance. Which is why I flinched when Rachel Maddow said this about Bart Stupak on her show.

  • abortion 3 *

I’m not sure I buy the argument that it’s a fundamental ban on abortion.  Right now, most women who get abortions pay cash and not with insurance.  And already, the women who are least able to scrape together the $500-$700 required for an abortion are often on Medicaid and already blocked from having their health care plan cover it.

I don’t want to minimize the problem by a long shot.  But if lack of access due to funding is a functional ban on abortion, and I’ll accept that argument, then that ship sailed in 1976 with the Hyde Amendment.  Stupak is simply expanding the number of women who’ll have abortion functionally banned.

I don’t want to nitpick, because otherwise I found the segment to be great.  Rep. Jane Schakowsky came on to explain the pro-choice House resistance to these abortion restrictions.

  • abortion 4 *

I suspect the strategy right now is to claim total refusal to vote on a bill with the severe abortion restrictions, but when push comes to shove, they’ll vote for it.  It seems like a strong tactic, but it’s something I applaud.  If pro-choice members of Congress don’t take a hard line on this, the anti-choicers will start demanding more.  And what’s left is contraception.  As the Fox News report indicated, this is about more than just abortion.  This is about finding every possible way to cut funding to women’s health care clinics in order to shut them down.  They’ve got abortion, but that probably won’t do it.  But women’s health care providers probably would take a major hit if it became functionally illegal for insurance to cover contraception or contraception-related services.  So, taking a stand on this, even if you give up at the last minute, is probably the only way to keep anti-choicers from finding funky new ways to separate women from basic health care services.

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Insert interview

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To my mind, the most interesting thing about what I’m about to play you was that no one had ever done this before. 

  • livetweet 1 *

No, I’m not surprised someone had an abortion.  There are over a million performed in this country a year, and one in three women will have one before 45 at current rates.  Abortion is common.  Talking about it is what’s not common.  It’s not unknown for women online to talk about their abortions, but it’s still so rare that it’s apparently big time news.

The blogger goes under the name Angie the Antitheist.  She blogs generally about atheism and leaving fundamentalism and other related topics, but when she got pregnant and decided to have an abortion, she decided to tweet about it, blog about it, and do a YouTube video about it.  Here’s her describing why she decided to make this usually private event more public.

  • livetweet 2 *

Angie claims that she didn’t really expect what happened next.  And that makes sense.  The primary theme of her initial reactions to her own abortion were that of relief that it wasn’t some horrible, scary thing as she’d been led to believe by anti-choice propaganda.  When you personally don’t see what the big deal is, it’s got to be crazy that all these other people, who don’t know you and don’t care about you and have all these weird hang-ups about sex and who hate women for reasons that are hard to understand then go nuts on you.  Which is exactly what happened.  The media picked up Angie’s story, because she really sticks out as someone who admits in public what a lot of women have experienced in private, which is that abortion is not some horrible, agonizing thing, but a simple, straightforward decision.  Not that they take it lightly, whatever that’s supposed to mean, but women are generally smart enough to make their own decisions, like men. And the expectation that we freak out about it to demonstrate that we’re too dumb to make a straightforward decision in a straightforward manner is insulting to women.

But of course, no matter how awful the mainstream media’s insulting man-bites-dog approach is, the anti-choicers who have a real live woman to shame for refusing to follow the path they laid out for her?  They’re the worst.  The amount of abuse she got from anti-choicers was as sickening as it was predictable.  Not just the bad faith crap about baby-killing, but also the sexual judgments that follow like night does the day.

  • livetweet 3 *

The absurdity of the marriage obsession lays bare the reality of what’s going on here, which is this obnoxious hatred of individuality, and this strong fear of female sexuality and need to police it.  The whole situation really opened up the gulf between reality and anti-choice demands.  In reality, Angie’s reality and most of our realities, sex and not wanting to be constantly pregnant are like having cable television and a roof over our heads.  Part of life that is such a given as to go without question.  But for anti-choicers, there’s this sense of constant outrage, and really, it’s like being in a constant tizzy because women sleep in beds and watch TV.  It’s baffling after a certain point. 

The abuse of Angie continued, so she responded in a third video.

  • livetweet 4 *

That’s patriarchy in a nutshell—taking ordinary aspects of a woman’s life and making them seem evil or weird or sick in an effort to force women to live with our heads hung low and our basic freedoms dramatically curtailed.  Why is hard to say.  But it’s clear after this that the taboo about talking about abortion is maintained strongly, and it’s maintained in order to make abortion harder for women to punish us for being, well, self-directed and unashamed.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, the you’ve really got no idea how bad that sounds, do you edition.  Representative Trent Franks wants to join into the anti-choice trend of pretending to care about black people, but he’s a little shaky on the dismount.

  • trent franks *

There are many ways that you can point out how it’s evil and racist to suggest that legal abortion is worse than slavery.  But I just want to point out that Franks seems unable to realize that giving someone the freedom to choose what to do with her body is exactly the opposite of slavery, where people were forced to work without pay or any real rights at all.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • prochoiceferret

    But it’s clear after this that the taboo about talking about abortion is maintained strongly, and it’s maintained in order to make abortion harder for women to punish us for being, well, self-directed and unashamed.

    What would have been interesting, albeit difficult for Angie to have done in addition to all the livetweeting and videos, was to catalogue all the various snippets of abuse that people sent her way—to present all that online, categorized, analyzed, sliced and diced. It would be an equivalent to the clinic protesters-gone-wild videos, i.e. “look how batcrap-crazy the pro-lifers are!”

     

    Angie did a great job demystifying abortion, but the whole taboo-maintaining thing is still rather mysterious.