Crisis Pregnancy Centers And Anti-Choice Extremism


Kathryn Joyce talks about her recent article in Ms. about crisis pregnancy centers. Also, health care reform is slowly getting implemented, but will the GOP-controlled House stop it? Will birth control be covered as preventive medicine?

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Links in this episode:

Fall issue of Ms

Colbert squeezes Sharron Angle for one more joke

McConnell wants to repeal health care

Perino lies on health care

They’re not going to kill health care

Women believe birth control is preventive care

Bill O’Reilly denounces birth control

Oh yes it is prevention

Beck implies right wing violence is a liberal conspiracy

On this episode of Reality Cast, Kathryn Joyce will be on to talk about her expose in Ms Magazine of crisis pregnancy centers, and their ties to often violent anti-choicers.  And now that the election is over, what’s going to happen to health care reform?  In one segment, I’ll look at Republican threats to repeal, and in another, the question of whether or not birth control should be free under the new legislation.

The midterms are over, and in most ways it’s best to put that election season to bed.  But one group will sorely miss this era. Yes, the comedians.  Without some of our finer Tea Party candidates to kick around, they’re running short on material.  Stephen Colbert thought he’d give Sharron Angle one more go-round before moving on.

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If I had a candidate who suggested teenage girls raped and impregnated by their fathers see forced childbirth as a lemons to lemonade situation, instead of a kicking someone while she’s down situation, I’d probably tell my candidate not to talk too much, either.

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So, the Republicans took the House this election, but the Senate and the Presidency are still in Democratic hands.  What does this mean going forward for sexual health care?  My immediate feeling is not much.  The biggest story of the decade, and maybe within most of our lifetimes, is the health care reform bill that will, if it works correctly, dramatically increase access to all kinds of health care, including sexual health care.  Stopping this from happening was a big deal for a number of Republicans running this election.  And now that the elections are over, they’re still talking a big game about it. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is a major example, perhaps the number one example.  Think Progress put together a compilation of his pronouncements on health care reform.

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He at least admits that it’s not likely to happen, but he insists on taking a stand on it, presumably to save money.  This stance is simply dishonest.  As Think Progress notes, repealing the bill would actually add $140 billion to the deficit.  Those numbers come from the Congressional Budget Office, which McConnell has traditionally not denied has good numbers.  Until now, when bashing the uninsured is assumed to have political traction.

The excuse being offered to grandstand on this issue is supposedly that Democrats pushed this through without any Republican input, a lie that Dana Perino told on Fox News.

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As noted at Media Matters, this is simply untrue, as a number of ideas offered at that summit—including creating high risk pools, selling across state lines, insuring kids until they’re 26, and incentivizing prevention—were in fact used.  But even if they weren’t, I’m not sure I get the moralistic grandstanding.  Since when does the party in power have an overt, unbendable obligation to let the party out of power write and pass legislation?  Certainly, the Republicans were all too happy to run over the Democrats when push came to shove when they were in power.  The reason Republicans refused to vote for the bill even after their amendments were included had nothing to do with their beliefs in any amendments.  It was a coordinated political campaign to drag out health care reform to make the Democrats look so bad.  And that, I would argue, is what is going on now with this talk of repeal.  

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Of course he’s circumspect.  They can’t do it.

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But what NPR reports is that instead, the plan appears to be to use the powers of Congress to harass the agencies who actually have the implementation job, in hopes that they can gum up the works and stop it.  Which is why this repeal-and-replace line Republicans are using is just nonsense.  Their behavior indicates a different desire altogether, which is to stop health care reform before it goes into action.  And the reason is pure politics.  Should health care reform actually start working, then it’s going to be too popular to repeal, like Social Security and Medicare before it.  Then Democrats can run basically forever by arguing they’re going to protect health care from Republicans who would dismantle it.  Of course, option number 3 for Republicans is to let this one go and find something else to stand on.  The likelihood of that happening is incredibly low.  Social Security has been in place for 75 years now, and you still have Republicans, including former President George Bush, looking for ways to kill it.

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Insert interview

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One of the quiet fights that’s beginning to simmer but will definitely be boiling next year is the fight over whether or not the government is going to consider birth control to be preventive care.  The reason is that under health care reform, insurance companies are going to be required to cover all preventive care fully, instead of having the patient pay a co-pay.  Since birth control exists strictly to prevent a medical condition known as pregnancy, then this should be a no-brainer.  And, if you survey women, it is a no-brainer.

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From a strictly public health oriented point of view, this is obvious.  Birth control is relatively cheap compared to the costs of child-bearing, and so making sure women who don’t want children aren’t giving birth is a classic win-win situation.  Also, birth control improves health in all sorts of ways.  When women are able to space their pregnancies, the babies they give birth to are so much healthier that the CDC officially recommends two years between babies.  Women’s health is much better if they aren’t giving birth more than they want, too, and not just during the pregnancy itself.  Pregnancy is hard on a woman’s body, and if you’re not in an optimal position to be pregnant, it can do real damage to your health.  And then there’s the potential mental health problems for both mothers and children that come from unwanted child-bearing. 

But all that is just noise to the anti-sex police, who only hear one thing when they hear that women might get their birth control covered, and that’s that a bunch of sluts will be screwing on their dime. 

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The funniest thing was he defended covering Viagra, saying it treats a medical condition.  Because men have to have sex, but when women do it, it’s a choice.  So basically he’s saying every act of heterosexual coitus involves one person exerting a right and the other person being a giant slut who should be ashamed that she thought she had rights.  Anyway, his logic that birth control isn’t a medical condition is just silly.  That’s why it’s considered prevention!  Eating healthy isn’t a medical condition, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it to prevent actual medical conditions.

But this weird logic is what the pro-misogyny, anti-sex crew are relying on. 

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If men could come down with a condition after having sex that involved vomiting, weight gain, a suppressed immune system, bloating, and then hospitalization to remove a 6 to 12 pound mass from their body as painfully as possible, there would be no question that a pill to prevent this is health care.  There would be no quibbling over whether or not this is disease just because it’s occasionally chosen.  Some people choose to get tattoos, but that doesn’t mean that jabbing a needle into your body over and over doesn’t hurt.  This kind of quibbling demonstrates a thorough disregard for women’s basic humanity.  No wonder actual Catholic women see right through it. 

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, shunning responsibility edition.  After being a hero to a spate of domestic terrorists and would-be terrorists, Glenn Beck is eager to find someone else to blame. 

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In case it’s not obvious what he’s trying to stab at, his implication is that all these acts of domestic terrorism were actually concocted by liberals and then blamed on the right to make them look bad.  The same week he aired this, an Operation Rescue volunteer was given two years probation for threatening the life of an abortion provider.  To hear Beck tell it, these folks are secret liberal infiltrators.  I think the more likely answer is they are as right wing as they claim to be.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on Twitter: @amandamarcotte