Abortion Clinic Vs. Crisis Pregnancy Center


Rachel Grady discusses her new documentary “12th and Delaware”. Will the birth control pill be free under new health care regulations?  Also, Congress takes a look at making stalking a more serious crime.

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Ken Buck uses the penis defense

The battle over birth control coverage

Virginia extends protections for domestic violence victims

Erin Andrews speaks out

Erin Andrews’ outrage at a light sentence for a stalker

Are lesbians just man-deprived?

On this episode of Reality Cast, Rachel Grady, one of the directors of 12th and Delaware, will talk about filming her documentary on the abortion battle. Also, conservative groups fight birth control coverage and there’s a new movement to take stalking more seriously as a crime.

I have to say, this campaign strategy from Ken Buck, who is a GOP Senate candidate in Colorado, is rather straightforward.

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As you can imagine, his opponent is a woman named Jane Norton.  And Buck feels that it’s obvious that the reason not to vote for a woman is that she’s a woman.  So much for the surge of conservative affection for female leaders.

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There’s a motto that pro-choicers need to hang on to and use frequently.  We need to embroider it on pillows and put it on billboards.  And that is, “Given the choice between reducing the abortion rate and punishing female sexuality, so-called pro-lifers will pick the latter every time.”  This adage is being proven yet again in the battle over contraception coverage under the new health care reform bill.  There’s a strong chance the HHS, under the guidance of the Obama administration, will classify contraception as preventive care.  In turn, this will mean that insurance companies have to offer your birth control pill prescription to you with no co-pay.  The likely benefit of free contraception for so many women will be a reduction in the abortion rate, which has been climbing upwards lately as many women are cutting back on contraception in order to save money, amongst other things.  If abortion itself is what bothers you, and you’re fine with female sexuality, then you should be demanding free contraception.  Of course, anti-choicers aren’t really in this for the fetus.  It’s all about controlling female sexuality.  And so they’re opposing any move to make contraception more affordable for women. 

Word of Mouth on New Hampshire Public Radio did a segment on the debate.  They invited Chuck Donovan from the Heritage Foundation and Kelly Blanchard from Ibis Reproductive Health to debate this. Chuck Donovan clearly went on the show intending to dissemble and distract from the Heritage Foundation’s super unpopular position.  After Donovan refused to answer the first time, the reporter got blunt.

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This tactic is a common one from conservatives, which is basically to imply that buying any kind of insurance that covers things you don’t personally need is some kind of crazy socialism.  In reality, that’s just how insurance works.  You help cover my birth control pills and I help cover your antibiotics.  The implication that an insurance company who covers birth control pills won’t cover antibiotics is a straight up lie.  But it’s pitched perfectly to dredge up resentment against young, sexually active women in an effort to undermine health care overall. The hope here is that he can make people mumble angrily that they have a $10 co-pay for antibiotics because some slut can’t keep her legs shut.  Which makes no kind of sense at all.  On the contrary—the more unintended pregnancies are prevented, the lower overall costs will be, because unintended pregnancy is really expensive. 

But earlier, he also engaged in another kind of dodginess.

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You can dissemble all you want, but the point can still be picked out of there.  The fear is that covering birth control will mean more women use birth control more consistently.  All other rationalizations and tap dancing is just noise designed to distract from the fact that they’re saying that their final aim is to make sure there are as many women as possible who can’t get the contraception they need.  Which, in turn, is a way of saying they support mandatory child-bearing for sexually active women.  That this will only result in more abortions is irrelevant to people who supposedly believe abortion is murder.  The main thing is making sure women who have sex don’t get away with it.

Unsurprisingly, Kelly Blanchard of Ibis argued that contraception is important preventive health care.

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She also addressed the junk argument that since pregnancy isn’t a disease, contraception isn’t prevention. 

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I don’t think this goes far enough, because the misogynist counter would be that we should only cover contraception for women with health complications.  I’m not sure I’d even go there.  I think it’s a distraction from the main argument, which she then proceeds to make.

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Being pregnant non-stop isn’t healthy.  The conservative insistence that everyone who doesn’t want to have children simply abstain from sex doesn’t really fit into a realistic model of a healthy lifestyle. The question here comes down to what we believe the word “health” means.  The current corporate-run system is all about defining health downwards to mean simply you aren’t going to die or become disabled.  I see healthiness in a more positive light.  It’s about maximizing your potential, and it’s not just about your physical well-being but also your mental well-being.  Unwanted pregnancy is, in that view, automatically unhealthy, even if it’s a healthy pregnancy by pregnancy standards. It’s a massive physical and emotional burden.  It depletes your resources, and not just your financial ones.  Even the threat of unwanted pregnancy depletes health by introducing stress into your life and especially into your relationships.  If our definition of health includes mental health, healthy relationships, healthy families, then it should include contraception.

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insert interview

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It seems that there’s a renewed legislative interest in the prevention of stalking and getting justice for stalking victims.  At first, I thought the whole thing to be a bit out of left field, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized why this is a good time.  For one thing, the explosion in portable technologies have, sadly, given abusers new tools in their mission to control and abuse their victims.  Flip cameras, mini audio recorders, all that stuff makes it easier for stalkers to invade victim’s privacy.  There’s also the matter of a number of famous domestic violence cases that have brought more public attention to the issue.  Of course, part of the reason is that new technologies have made victims able to draw attention to their plight, as Mel Gibson’s girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva recorded his angry rants against her.

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He admits to striking her in these tapes, as well.  I think, once people get a real look at how violence against women looks, they often have a renewed interest in fighting it.  And now there’s some quiet legislative efforts to crack down on stalking.  Virginia, for instance, has extended protections to victims of domestic violence and stalking. 

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The law makes it easier to extend orders, but it also makes it easier to get them.  There used to be much stronger restrictions on what your relationship to your abuser had to be in order to get one. 

But this has gone beyond just a state level. The federal government is also looking at new legislation to help victims of stalking. The bill is to add more punishments for stalkers and to incorporate new technologies into the previous legislation.  Legislators have a little celebrity firepower to help them out with this.  Sportscaster Erin Andrews testified in support of the bill, citing her own miserable experiences being stalked by a guy who figured out her travel schedule, and used that information to film her in secret in hotel rooms getting undressed.  For women in professions like Andrews, where you work in the public eye and you are considered by some men to be an interloper into their precious male-only space, the story was really unnerving. Worse was how some people blamed Andrews for being sexy and therefore supposedly bringing this on herself.  Luckily, the sports media establishment supported her.  And now she’s fighting back.  I found her press conference quite moving.

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The man who stalked Erin Andrews, filmed her naked, and humiliated her by putting the videos online got a sentence of 2 and a half years and had to pay Andrews $7,000 in damages.  She’s been firm that this was not enough. 

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The stalker, Michael Barrett, acts in public like he is the victim of a peculiar sexual fetish, and has cried about how his children don’t respect him and he’s so sorry to Andrews.  But as Andrews has pointed out, if that’s true, then he wouldn’t be unwilling to reveal the names of the 16 other women he’s secretly filmed.  And therein lies the problem with light sentence for these kinds of crimes.  Men who engage in stalking and sexual assault rarely stop at one, and unless they face serious penalties for their behavior, they’ll rack up multiple victims.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, the lives in a bubble of her own making edition.  Elizabeth Hasselbeck on The View had an interesting response on the question of why some women start lesbian relationships later in life after being with men.

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I wish I could say I was surprised, but the myth that lesbians are only lesbians because no man will have them is a widespread one.  The piles of evidence against this stereotype doesn’t change the stereotype, and that just shows the power of stereotypes.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte