What the Gallup Polling on Abortion Really Revealed


Jessica Grose on what the new Gallup polling on abortion means. Also, week two of Elena Kagan watch, and the sex scandals involving major league hypocrites get even funnier.

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Debate on home birth

Survey says: Softball!

Did you hear about the softball?

They’re both ladies, aren’t they?

George Rekers is completely heterosexual

Immediate resignation!

Abstinence-only for you, but not for Souder

Crisis pregnancy centers have to tell the truth and they don’t like it

On this episode of Reality Cast, Jessica Grose will be on to talk about an article she wrote in Slate magazine looking more deeply into Gallup polling that shows that more Americans than ever call themselves “pro-life”.  Also, more on the Elena Kagan nomination, and is it just me or are sex scandals involving the sex police getting even funnier lately?

The show “The Drs” had a debate between some doctors and Ricki Lake about home birthing. 

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I’m not sure that a panel on TV is really the best way to address this controversial issue, but I’m glad they’re at least trying to take it on.  It’s a situation where I see all sides.  I appreciate the concern doctors feel, but I also understand that hospitals are alienating places and not necessarily where someone wants to welcome a new life into the world.

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Now it’s week two of Elena Kagan watch on Reality Cast.  So far, I can report that abortion still isn’t rising to the top of the list in terms of issues that are being kicked around regarding her likely confirmation to the Supreme Court.  Like I noted in my column last Monday at RH Reality Check, this is unlikely to stay true.  Right now, the reason that abortion isn’t at the top of the list is she has almost no paper trail to speak of regarding abortion.  But that doesn’t mean that anti-choicers aren’t quickly concocting a narrative based on misinformation.  It’s a tactic that rarely fails them, so of course they’re going to do it.  Bill O’Reilly went straight for the alarmist tactics, coupled with massive incoherence.

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I think my favorite part was when he suggested they didn’t have human DNA in 1973.  What does he even mean by that?  He’s just yelling out buzzwords that matter to anti-choicers and have no bearing on the subject at hand.  Everything is aimed towards painting a certain image of Kagan that really has no basis in her record, in no small part because she’s been so careful about not creating a major paper trail about how she feels about anything.  Even Megan Kelly on Fox News had to admit that it’s meaningless that Kagan declared that the language you use indicates your decision.  Any honest person on any side of the issue could agree with that assessment. 

But right now, most of the sex baiting involving Kagan doesn’t have anything to do with abortion.  Instead, it’s about hinting that Kagan is a lesbian.  Again, there’s not a lot in terms of real world available evidence for this assertion, and so the pundits are having to resort to some questionable tactics. One particular tactic got so out of control that Talking Points Memo put together a video collecting all the times it came up on the news.

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That’s right.  There’s a 17-year-old picture of her playing softball, and since there’s a stereotype out there about lesbians and softball, every other pundit on TV is making note of it.  And every single conservative pundit makes sure to mention it, even if they’re officially denouncing the tactic.  Like Laura Ingraham on the Today Show.

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Irrelevant, but not so irrelevant that Ingraham, a hardcore conservative, isn’t going to briefly blow that dog whistle.  As you could tell from the prior clip, some folks couldn’t even just leave it at hinting and implying, but they had to come right out and explain the implication.  I don’t know if that’s a sign that the news media is getting stupider, or if this particular stereotype has lost its resonance and therefore has to be explained. 

The other bit of gender-baiting is a little more subtle, but probably more irritating for it.  And this is the continuous comparisons of Kagan to Harriet Miers. Miers, if you’ll recall, was George Bush’s White House counsel, and he nominated her in an obvious bid to stuff the court with his direct cronies, and then had to withdraw the nomination because, if you’ll recall, the anti-choicers out there really couldn’t be 100% of her dedication to misogyny.  Their reason to be suspicious of her seemed to be due strictly to the fact that she was unmarried, which I suppose is one of the signposts of a secret feminist.  In retrospect, however, it seems that conservatives have rewritten that history to make it seem like their main objection to Miers was that she lacked experience.  Or that’s the sense you get from the ones comparing Miers and Kagan now.  Like here’s Representative Mike Pence from Indiana on the subject.

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Miers was White House counsel, and Kagan is the solicitor general.  If they were men, I promise you that the comparison wouldn’t leap to mind so quickly for folks.  But they’re both never-married women, and I think that just sets a lot of conservatives off.  Of course, they can’t protest that Kagan is a secret feminist, because while she doesn’t have much of a paper trail, it does seem that she’s a feminist who doesn’t hide that fact about herself. 

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Insert interview

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You know, it’s been awhile since I had a segment mocking the always entertaining inevitable instances when the sex police get caught with their pants down.  Part of the reason is that it happens so often that it’s hardly worth covering, and part of it is that I hint at it here and there in shorter segments.  But the most recent ones are so funny that I think they deserve a segment of their own.  The first is the story of George Rekers, who is a founding member of the Family Research Council, which is a Christian fundamentalist group dedicated mainly to concocting science-y sounding arguments for very unscientific anti-gay and anti-woman arguments.  The also establish front organizations with names that sound very close to genuinely reputable organizations, in an effort to confuse people about what the actual experts are saying on various issues, mostly related to sex.  For instance, Rekers has established a long career pretending to be an expert on turning gay people straight.  He worked for the front group the American College of Pediatricians, which is a group trying to make people think they’re the American Academy of Pediatricians, and he exploits this confusion to push the idea that you can turn a child straight through dubious child-rearing practices.

So the world was very amused to find out one of the nation’s foremost proponents of the belief that you can un-gay yourself was caught vacationing in Europe with a male prostitute he hired from Rent Boy dot com.  Whenever a professional homophobe is caught in a same-sex sexual situation, there’s a predictable pattern.  First, deny that you’re gay.  In this particular situation, Rekers’ excuse was particularly laughable, and Dan Savage had a blast with it.

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Song parodies were immediately written.

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I’ve seen this kind of denial work exactly zero percent of the time.  A resignation is always soon on the heels of the denial.  And that’s what happened in this case. 

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One could be forgiven if one thinks that whatever a member of the sex police specializes in fighting is whatever that member of the sex police is doing.  So, the professional homophobes are the ones to watch for secret same sex trysts.  But we got another example when a scandal involving Representative Mark Souder was exposed for having an affair with a female staff member.  Surprisingly, Souder did what they rarely do, and he resigned pretty much immediately upon the revelation coming to light. 

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An immediate resignation like this seriously almost never happens.  Then again, I have to point out that Fox News broke the story, and they tend to be carrying water for the most conservative political elements out there.  If there’s been rumors flying around, I have to wonder if Souder just crossed the wrong people and discovered that Fox News will turn on you so quick it’ll make you go crosseyed. 

Naturally, Souder was a member of the sex police, and naturally, it took about 5 minutes for the enterprising folks at Talking Points Memo to find a video of Souder being interviewed by his mistress about the importance of abstaining from non-marital sex.

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Both of them are snotty and smirky in defense of keeping it in your pants in this video, which is just awesome.  Are they smirking because they’re pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes?  Are they smirking because it’s so fun to play the “do as I say not as I do” card?  Once again, I’m forced to point out that I really do think many to most conservative politicians and pundits really see their own audience as a bunch of rubes.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, don’t make us actually say what we claim we say but actually we’re not really saying edition.  Thomas Schetelich, who manages a crisis pregnancy center in Baltimore, isn’t happy about a new law requiring crisis pregnancy centers to hang signs making it clear they don’t offer abortion or birth control services. 

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If they aren’t trying to trick women, then what’s the point of resisting the signs?  The answer is because he’s not being honest. I mean, it’s true that crisis pregnancy centers don’t offer any useful medical services, but it’s also true that they hope you don’t realize that until they’ve already got you into their offices so they can hit you with a bunch of lies about abortion and contraception in hopes of scaring you off of using either.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte