Nebraska Challenges Roe and Real Post-Abortion Counseling

Aspen Baker talks about what good abortion counseling does or doesn’t look like. Also, Nebraska starts a challenge to Roe, and the ongoing coverage of adultery has a sexist spin.

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New ban on abortion in Nebraska

The actual science on fetal pain

Sarah Palin vs. religious freedom

On this episode of Reality Cast, Aspen Baker will be on to talk about the recent focus on mental health from anti-choicers, and what good post-abortion counseling actually looks like.  Also, Nebraska passes a law intended to challenge Roe vs Wade, and a look at the trendiness of adultery and sex addiction.

I found a new video blog called Feminist Frequency that promises to be interesting.  In a recent episode, she talks about the disturbing common image of female robots that are sex objects slash housework providers. 

  • fembots *

The thing that’s always struck me about the fantasy of the fembot is that it’s so sterile, too.  It’s a way for men to imagine women that don’t get periods, don’t get sick, don’t say no, and don’t have desires of their own. 


Last week, I noted that the Supreme Court nomination process will likely be especially fraught this time around because of abortion, and the reason was that there’s been an uptick in legal maneuvering from anti-choicers in an attempt to get the court to reverse Roe v. Wade.  This was what I was actually thinking of: 

  • Nebraska 1 *

I was actually surprised to see that this didn’t get more mainstream media attention than it did.  It got plenty, of course, but I think that’s because most journalists do trust pro-choice activists when they say that something is a big deal.  But at present time, it’s hard for a lot of people in the mainstream media to see why this is a big deal.  Only a little more than 1%  of abortions are performed after 20 weeks, and I think there’s a lot of people who think that most of those are elective abortions on women who put off getting an abortion for 5 months.  And so it’s hard to think that this ban is going to be a big deal.  In reality, most abortions performed after 20 weeks are due to medical indications, and of course the Nebraska ban disallows those abortions.  There’s a weak exception for the life or permanent disabling of the mother, but there’s multiple problems with even that exception. 

Naturally, Rachel Maddow was getting the coverage on this right, right out of the box.  She noted that Dr. Leroy Carhart works in Nebraska, and that anti-choice groups like Operation Rescue are targeting him for harassment and using threatening language like, “Carhart’s days in Nebraska are numbered.” 

  • Nebraska 2 *

That’s one of the two major reasons this law is such a big deal.  It’s unconscionable that the state of Nebraska’s response to terrorism is to give terrorists what they want.  It’s been well-established and well-documented that the reason that anti-choice terrorism is so prevalent in this country is that it’s effective.  But the other reason is just as troubling.  The John King show had Terry O’Neal on, and she explained the issue.

  • Nebraska 3 *

Unfortunately, King played right into anti-choice hands by suggesting their claims that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks have some grounding in science.  It doesn’t.  They basically pulled that number out of their collective asses.  The reason that fetal pain is being kicked in to play here is that Roe v. Wade basically said you can’t prevent women from getting an abortion before viability.  Anti-choicers have hoped forever that medical science will find a way to gestate a fetus outside of the womb, so they can claim viability stretches all the way back probably to conception, but basically it’s becoming clear that will never happen.  So now they’re challenging the viability standard altogether, in an effort to challenge Roe v. Wade. 

The fetal pain thing isn’t based in science.  Whenever I have an anti-choicer gloat at me about the supposed science they’re relying on, I ask them how the feel about the theory of evolution.  So far, I’ve been batting 1000 with that one.  Their supposed enthusiasm for science is, of course, complete nonsense.  There’s a TON of research on neurological development in the womb, and the conclusion of it all is that it’s highly unlikely fetuses can feel anything resembling pain before 28 weeks at the very earliest.

The ban on abortions after 20 weeks wasn’t the only objectionable law that Nebraska coughed up, either.  There’s also one requiring screening for mental health problems before an abortion, which is basically Nebraska’s way of suggesting that the only reason a woman might not want a baby right now is she’s crazy.  And to imply that abortion providers are indifferent to women’s health as a rule.  But as this doctor who called in to Headline News explains, that’s simply not true.

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This is particularly galling when you consider this law was passed in reaction to Dr. Tiller’s murder.  Dr. Tiller was renowned for his bedside manner and attentiveness to the emotional and mental well-being of his patients.  To pretend otherwise to score political points is to further give in to terrorism.


insert interview


I’ve been watching with interest the sudden explosion of tabloid coverage of celebrity marriages that are hurt or probably destroyed because of infidelity.  It’s interesting to me, because while the mundane reality of life is that women are almost as likely to cheat as men, if you got all your information from the tabloids, you’d think that cheating is something that is unilaterally done by men, while their wives stand helplessly by. For instance, the Today show did a report on infidelity, and this was their framing.

  • infidelity 1 *

They then pay lip service to the fact that women cheat, though they spin it as the result of feminism and not of basic human nature.    But the examples they use  are so uniformly male that it’s kind of baffling.  The one person they interview who is an admitted adulterer is male.  The people they get for reactions shots are all female.

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It’s hard for me to put my finger on it, but there’s something about the way this issue is portrayed in battle of the sexes terms that makes me really uneasy.  I mean, besides my fury at the media’s non-stop drumbeat of pitting men against women.  I think a lot of it is that by focusing on this issue in just this way, the mainstream media is reinforcing the notion that men are sexual beings and women aren’t.  And in case that wasn’t clear, the way they portray extramarital affairs is maximized for pornographic value, which just makes it seem even more masculine in the public’s eyes.  There’s a lot of images of women’s bodies being objectified.  And it’s kind of weird, because a lot of adultery isn’t really like that. It’s usually less like Tiger Woods screwing his way through a sea of women, and more like people developing infatuations while already in a relationship.  I think it’s easier a lot of the time to turn your nose up to a quick lay than to turn off a rush of feelings you have for another person that you’ve grown close to.

Which leads me to the trendiness of so-called “sex addiction”.  I can’t help but think that the masculinization of infidelity in the public imagination is feeding this idea that someone can be addicted to sex.  Sex addiction calls up an image of a particular kind of sexual behavior, one where men are using and even exploiting women they don’t care much about.  Today did another segment on sex addiction.

  • infidelity 4 *

The APA doesn’t recognize sex addiction as a real affliction.  There’s compulsive sexual behavior, but that’s a different issue.  Count me amongst the skeptics.  And part of the reason I’m skeptical is that the few women who struggle with this in the public eye come across as tokens.  In the public imagination, sex addiction is just a new term for unchecked male sexuality. 

And that bothers me, because I think that this particular brand of cheating that attracts all this attention has less to do with chemical dependency and more to do with the way our society constructs masculinity.  With a couple of exceptions, most of the most famous public adulterers are men who run through a gauntlet of women behind their wives’ backs.  They seem less inspired by chemical dependency on orgasm and more inspired by a combination of enthusiasm for being a stud and having a Madonna/whore complex that makes women you actually love less sexually exciting than those you think are sluts that don’t deserve your respect.  And recasting the problem as “sex addiction” is a way to avoid talking about the real problems here.  Instead, it just reinforces the idea that most cheating is this kind of cheating, and that most guys who do it are driven by animal desires, and not by social factors.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, forget that First Amendment edition.  Sarah Palin made a speech for a group called Women of Joy, and she lambasted the idea of separation of church and state.

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 You know, if the Founders wanted a melding of church and state, you think they would have written that in the Constitution, instead of going with the exact opposite of that.  This isn’t a small matter or only pertaining to atheists, either.  Theocratic sentiment like this is usually in service of an anti-choice, anti-gay agenda.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • carolrhill814

    I don’t get it at all how all of sudden it is OK to have a baby of wedlock it just doesn’t make sence to me or if a man wants to play around on their wifes is Ok.

    This is horrible I really don’t have the words to say about what these men and women are doing it almost seems that it is a right of passage.

    Adultery is the biggest sin that you could ever ever committ in the old days men and women were either put to death or put in prison because it is a crime against the marriage laws but people don’t hear what they say when they get married they just repeat the words.

    But if babies are born in this manner the babies shouldn’t pay for the sins of the mother or the father because they had nothing to do with it NOTHING at all.





  • crowepps

    Adultery is the biggest sin that you could ever ever committ in the old days men and women were either put to death or put in prison because it is a crime against the marriage laws

    Is that what you want to go back to?  The way it actually WORKED in “the old days” was that a FEW people were put to death or put in prison and other people got away with it scot free because they had power or position or money or a prominent family.  That’s why they stopped trying to enforce those laws, because they were applied unequally in the most blatant fashion and caused a lack of respect for the law.


    Also, in a represenative social democracy with freedom of religion, using the law to punish ‘sins’ doesn’t work.  Did you know that before our Constitution and Bill of Rights was established, people were also killed or sent to prison for not belonging to/attending the right church?

  • prochoiceferret

    I don’t get it at all how all of sudden it is OK to have a baby [out] of wedlock

    Adultery is the biggest sin that you could ever ever committ

    What do having a baby outside of a marriage, and cheating on your spouse in a marriage, have to do with one another?

  • crowepps

    If the deal is that women are only allowed to have babies if they submit to marriage, and that they are required to be faithful to their husbands, then modern life demonstrates to these women just how lousy the deal always was.


    First, women who decide to have children without marriage are getting the reward which women are biologically programmed to desire without having to pay the onerous price.


    Then it’s made explicitly clear to them that the ‘faithful’ part was only ever a requirement for the women, that the male part of the equation was never equivalent ‘faithfulness’ but rather discretion.


    This is a particularly tough one for young Christian women, since apparently there aren’t enough young Christian men to go around, and they are still being told that unless there’s a man in the house they aren’t qualified to adopt a needy child, that a child is better off in an orphanage than living with a single woman.


    The comments below this article were certainly eyeopening: