Oklahoma Doubles Down On The Creepy, Expensive Misogyny


Elaine Tyler May discusses the history of the birth control pill on its anniversary. Also, Oklahoma keeps on hating on women, and the health care reform “debate” goes to the birds.

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Links in this episode:

Oklahoma’s expensive vaginal probing

Bring a chicken to the doctor

The dance remix

Breast cancer patients getting cut off insurance

“Anchor babies”

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be honoring the 50th anniversary of the pill by interviewing historian Elaine Tyler May about her new book on the history of the pill.  Also, Oklahoma won’t give up on foolish abortion restrictions, and the frenzy over health care reform goes to the birds.

The author I’m interviewing today is only one of at least two writers who’ve published books about the pill on the 50th anniversary of its approval as a contraception.  Nancy Gibbs has also released a book, and she was on Morning Joe talking about it.

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Stay tuned for the interview later, because I’ll be discussing this and other historically interesting issues regarding the pill with Elaine Tyler May.

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Oh, Oklahoma legislators.  Will you ever quit trying to come up with innovative ways to torture women for the high crime of being able to become pregnant? 

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One of these bills can be described as rape-ish, which isn’t so clear from this report.  The ultrasound bill befits the perverted, hateful attitudes anti-choicers have towards women and their bodies better than pretty much anything I’ve seen come down the pike in awhile.  The law requires doctors not to do just an ultrasound, but a specific one involving a vaginal probe.  Naturally, I immediately had anti-choicers arguing with me that putting things in a woman’s vagina against her will wasn’t that big a deal if she had already consented to have other things put in there, such as the instruments to do an abortion. 

These people are wrong for two reasons.  If you’ve ever had any kind of doctor poking around inside your body cavities, you’ll know that your first major desire is to minimize the amount of time that this has to happen.  This bill is about forcing doctors to put a probe in a woman’s body for a period extended beyond what a doctor would usually do for medical reasons.  Second of all, there’s the issue of consent.  I realize anti-choicers don’t really get or respect the idea of consent when it comes to women, but this is not a small thing.  If you don’t consent to a specific invasive medical procedure, that can be traumatizing.  Rape victims especially can have flashbacks if forced to be penetrated against their will.  Doctors who have firsthand knowledge and control of the situation can work around this, but Oklahoma legislators don’t care. 

Plus, saying that a woman consenting to abortion means she consents to having all sorts of things shoved in her vagina?  That sounds a whole lot like rape apologists saying that you can’t rape a woman unless she’s a virgin.  The governor of Oklahoma agreed that this was a gross violation of basic human rights, especially those of rape victims, who have a strong interest in having an abortion with as little invasion of the bodies as possible.

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The governor also seemed to be irate about the continuing insistence from the legislature that passing these laws is a good idea.

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The state of Oklahoma keeps spending hundreds of thousands of dollars defending these unconstitutional invasions of women’s privacy and rights, and they usually lose.  As I wrote at Double X, this is a poor choice not just from a human rights perspective, but from a fiscal responsibility perspective.  Oklahoma is facing a 1.2 billion dollar budget shortfall.  They really don’t have the money to keep flushing down the toilet attacking women’s rights.  They have agencies to run and employees to pay first. 

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Insert interview

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Health care!  The bill passed, and it should all be over, but you didn’t think it would happen that quickly, did you?  Now the opposition to health care reform has entered a phase that someone should coin a phrase for, perhaps involving the word “post”.  Like how post-modernism creates a sensation of meta-ness and irony by going over the top?  Post-health care reformism has a similar vibe to it, surreal but less playful. Things really got out of control when Sue Lowden, who is challenging Senator Harry Reid in Nevada, suggested that there was an idyllic past where people didn’t need silly things like health insurance. 

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 Lowden was given multiple chances to play it off like she didn’t mean it, but she refused.  She’s standing firm by the idea that we should be able to pay doctors in chickens, instead of through insurance.  As a commenter at my personal blog noted, health care reform opponents have gone from screeching about how doctors won’t get paid enough in this system to suggesting we should pay doctors in chickens.  Anything but reform the insurance system, apparently. 

The parodies started up immediately. I was fond of Progress Now Nevada, who posted “Bring A Chicken To The Doctor, The Dance Remix”. 

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Jay Leno had a good time with it:

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Some of Harry Reid’s supporters showed up at Lowden’s offices carrying a goat and asking for a referral to a doctor who would accept it as payment for medical services.  To me, what was really funny about all this is that the sort of medical care that you could get in the 19th century or during the Dust Bowl, which is the kind that was paid for in chickens?  That kind of care was getting stitches and treating the common cold, the sort of thing that modern insurance pays for without squawking too much.  In other words, people who could pay in chickens are the easiest to insure.  It’s the people who get things like breast cancer that have to worry. 

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Back in the bartering days, chemotherapy wasn’t really an option.  But let’s just pretend that Lowden’s got a point. Talking Points Memo crunched the numbers, and put the average cost of a chicken around $5.  With some googling, I found that breast cancer treatment costs around $35,000 on average, so basically all you have to come up with is 7,000 chickens.  Which I’m sure your doctor will know what to do with. 

Stephen Colbert had some suggestions on how to make the system work.

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What I loved about this whole chicken thing is how quickly it revealed how much right wing nostalgia is actually pretty thorough.  To my mind, living in the past where life spans were shorter and you had to kill your own food sounds miserable.  But I suppose right wingers are willing to embrace all that if they can just get those social inequalities back.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, anchor baby edition.  When Arizona passed this law requiring police to harass people who they think look like illegal immigrants, I knew it was only a matter of time before women’s reproductive choices got pulled in to this.  And sure enough, Fox News had this woman named Michelle Dallacroce on to shame immigrant women for having babies. 

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This was after a rant where she implied that illegal immigrants were largely criminals, and blamed basically all crime on them. There have been a number of attempts to criminalize or otherwise punish immigrant women having babies, and so this isn’t the sort of thing we should take lightly. 

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte