What’s The Matter With Wichita?


Stephen Singular brings an in-depth look at the story behind the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Also, why we need to defend abortion alongside contraception, as evidenced in Washington D.C.

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Who is standing up for abortion?

Not even having the conversation

Trying to avoid the end of Roe

DC got thrown under the bus

DC mayor arrested protesting the compromise

Dennis Miller hacks it up

On this episode of Reality Cast, Stephen Singular will be on to talk about his new book chronicling the murder of Dr. George Tiller.  Also, why we need not to neglect abortion when talking reproductive rights, and a segment on the D.C. abortion funding ban.

If you haven’t heard former Republican Senator Alan Simpson unleash the fury while on Chris Matthews show, well, it’s a thing of beauty.

  • simpson *

There are still some liberal Republicans banging around out there, even though they’re aging rapidly and have like no power.  This is just a friendly reminder.

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Rachel Maddow started asking a very uncomfortable but important question a little over a week ago on her program.  After describing the way that the right to abortion is under an unprecedented attack in the states, not only with harassing laws and waiting periods but also outright bans, she then said this. 

  • maddow 1 *

She’s really got an important point here that shouldn’t be overlooked.  The right has become more openly hostile to contraception, and that has shifted the field of battle towards defending contraception.  It’s understandable that pro-choicers are far more confident in this battle than over abortion.  99 percent of women who’ve had sex with a man have used contraception.  It’s openly talked about and advertised on TV.  Most religious women use it.  It’s part of every day life.  Abortion, however, is something two thirds of women will never experience.  While it’s politically discussed a lot, the actual realities of abortion are rarely talked about openly, and certainly not on TV. 

The result is that abortion is politically harder to talk about, and the opposition scores wins more easily by being hysterical and misleading about it.  It’s easier to delude people when they’re ignorant of the facts, obviously.  A fight about contraception is easier to win. But we’re not in this to win for itself, but to improve people’s lives and make sex more like it should be, fun instead of a burden. 

Rachel tried to bring this point up with Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, but Cecile stayed firmly on her talking points about the 97% of health care that Planned Parenthood does that isn’t abortion. 

  • maddow 2 *

Rachel followed up again, asking again about abortion and state laws restricting it, and Cecile acknowledged the question but didn’t answer it, instead going back to contraception and cancer screenings.  I understand why she’s doing this, and I don’t blame her, since the fight at hand is about these things.  But the fight over abortion is one that we lose if we avoid it.  Rachel had more luck with Terry O’Neill from NOW.  Rachel talked about how the Nebraska law that bans post-20 week abortions is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, and could result in an overturn if pro-choicers challenge it and it gets that far. Then she interviewed Terry.

  • maddow 3 *

I’m not usually one to blame the feminist movement anymore for things not going our way.  I don’t like saying we failed or we didn’t try hard enough.  I think doing so is a way of underestimating our opposition and their power.  That said, we did make our bed in one way on this, which is that we haven’t really done enough  offensively on the abortion battle front.  We’re understandably busy trying to fight incursions against the right to abortion, but because of this, we haven’t been doing enough to expand the right and put anti-choicers on defense.  For instance, we should have been out there fighting to have federal funding on abortion loudly and demanding legislation to that end years ago, and not just a repeal of Hyde.  When the health care reform bill came up, we should have started by demanding that it have federal funding for abortion in it.  Because we failed to do this, we ended up playing defense and lost more ground.  Hanna Rosin made some great points about these problems on the Double X podcast.

  • maddow 4 *

I mean, victory is far from certain.  But we should, as pro-choicers, be staking out to the left on this and not letting the irrational taboo against abortion dictate the conversation.  I think in many cases you are only going to be able to talk about the contraception angle in this fight, because you may be in a space where brevity and clarity are the priorities.  But we shouldn’t dodge the abortion issue.  It’s just too important, because as we all know, women aren’t going to stop trying to abort pregnancies just because access to safe, legal abortion becomes too hard to get.

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insert interview

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One major concern when it comes to conservatives taking the fight to contraception is that it moves the debate to the right.  And that can, perversely, hurt abortion access, because people at bargaining tables will be forced to give up abortion rights in order to save contraception rights.  And we saw this in the recent budget debacle.  Yes, the vast majority of the debate was over contraception and other non-abortion reproductive health services.  But Republicans also demanded that Washington D.C. be forced to stop providing Medicaid coverage for abortion, even though that’s out of their own tax money and was decided on in a democratic fashion.  In the end, the Democrats gave up abortion in D.C. in order to preserve contraception, thereby creating a model for anti-choicers who are looking for ways to curtail abortion rights.  Simply attack all reproductive health care and then “settle” for forcing pregnant women to give birth against their wills.

  • dc 1 *

As soon as Medicaid funding was cut off, 28 women who were scheduled to get Medicaid-funded abortions were left without the expected funding, creating a mad scramble in the area abortion funds.  And even though this is about abortion, which is a topic where most people are shamed into silence, D.C. residents were pissed.  For them, this was about more than abortion, but also about the fact that they aren’t represented in Congress, but Congress is always overruling the laws and policies that D.C. determines for itself on a local level.  The politicians representing the area were furious.  Eleanor Holmes Norton, who sits in Congress to represent D.C. but doesn’t have a vote, went off on TV about this.

  • dc 2 *

So this quickly became about more than just abortion, but about D.C.’s right to make decisions for itself.  It’s interesting, because I’ve never seen anyone who opposes giving D.C. more power make an argument for it besides scoffing and changing the subject.  It’s so clearly unfair that you really can’t argue against it.  Because this issue touched on not just women’s health care and attacks on poor people, but on D.C.’s right to representation, the ban on abortion funding in D.C. became a very big issue indeed.  There was a major protest.

  • dc 3 *

It’s quite the sign of the times we live in that the mayor of one of the biggest cities in the country gets arrested protesting and it’s not even that big of news in most of the media. 

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, the single most useless comment possible edition.  Dennis Miller was on Bill O’Reilly’s show to discuss the French ban on full face veiling, and he said this.

  • miller *

Classic wingnuttery, I must say.  He attacked women for wearing too many clothes and too few clothes and then reduced women to their looks, with a slam against the French for supposedly being oversexed.  Oh yeah, and the racist implication that women who veil are probably just ugly.  Too bad in all of this, there was nothing whatsoever of value to rescue, though.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • rebellious-grrl

    Amanda can you post this at i tunes? I tried to download it and there were zero items. I also can’t download past casts. I love your podcasts and listen every week.

     

    Mucho thanks! Can’t wait to listen.

  • witless-chum

    Yeah, a way to download and listen while I’m driving to work would be really nice.

  • amanda-marcotte

    I didn’t see these comments. I would have responded sooner! I have Brady looking into it.

  • janekeeler

    I haven’t been able to download via itunes for the past 2 weeks either (I get the error ‘!’ next to the podcast whenever i refresh…)

  • janekeeler

    yay! podcasts are back on itunes :-)