The Mystique of The Feminine Mystique


The war on women really ramps up with the passage of HR3 through the House and the defunding of Planned Parenthood on the state level. Also, Stephanie Coontz talks feminist history, the reality and myths of The Feminine Mystique.

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Links in this episode:

Who has abortions?

Rachel Maddow on the Indiana problem

Santorum opposes birth control 

Planned Parenthood of Indiana will be suing

On this episode of Reality Cast, Stephanie Coontz will talk about the history of the famous feminist text the Feminine Mystique.  Also, the House passes an extreme anti-choice bill numbered HR3 and the state by state war on Planned Parenthood continues.

The Guttmacher Institute just released an excellent video that dispels many of the common myths about women who have abortions.  A sample.

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The video addresses, in short order, many common myths about women, abortion, class, race, and religion. Check it out.

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After much fuss and muss and rewrites and Twitter campaigns, the House finally put HR 3, the misleadingly named No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act on the floor on Wednesday.  I say misleadingly named, because federal funds are already banned from funding abortion.  What this bill would do is not allow anyone receiving a tax credit for insurance under health care reform be able to buy from an insurance company that covers abortion.  It would also prevent women from using private money in health savings accounts from using that money to pay for abortion.  It basically allows the federal government to control how you spend your private money.

But HR3 is about far, far more than just abortion. David Waldman, a congressional expert who posts at Daily Kos amongst other things, did a video explaining how bad this bill is.  See, the way it works is that it revokes your health care tax deduction if you buy a private insurance plan that covers abortion.  That sets a precedent wherein the federal government can basically control every private dollar you own by creating income tax penalties if you have economic behavior they don’t like.

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This is a far-reaching precedent.  What Waldman is saying here is that if this passes, they could build on that precedent. Next, they could pass a law saying that if you donate money to a pro-choice organization, you can’t take tax deductions.  I’d imagine they’d start by not allowing you to deduct a donation, but they could keep building on it.  They could, in theory, get to a point where people who join unions aren’t allowed a standard deduction on their income taxes, or someone who works on a conservative hit list of organizations can’t take standard income tax deductions.  It would basically make it so burdensome to do these things that it would be illegal. This is about way more than abortion.  This is about bringing an end to the idea of freedom as we know it, all while maintaining a legal structure where these activities are technically free but not free in any meaningful sense of the word.

The debate was conducted in loopy terms that had little to do with what was in the bill.  You had Mike Pence, lying his head off on the floor of the House.

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Of course, this bill has nothing to do with public funding of abortion.  What this bill says is that if I take my private money and buy a private insurance plan and that plan pays for an abortion for me or anyone else on the plan, I lose my tax credit as does every other person who bought that plan.  Which is like saying that taxpayers are funding your bar tab because you occasionally go out drinking and you also get a standard deduction on your taxes.  They are basically saying all money in the bank account of people who pay income taxes is public funding.  Bet you didn’t know that the federal government has claim to all your money because you fill out a 1040 every year!

Luckily, there were many cooler heads prevailing in the debate.  Nancy Pelosi, for one.

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As far as I can tell, it’s even more far-reaching than that.  It bans employers from the tax credit, and it bans men, too.  If you pay into an insurance pool and anyone in that pool gets an abortion covered, everyone who paid in gets a tax raise.  Everyone, male or female. Basically, what will happen is that all insurance companies will drop abortion coverage, full stop.  Because no one is going to buy an insurance plan that raises their tax burden significantly.  As noted before, this sets a precedent where all sorts of private behavior could be functionally banned by raising the taxes on it tremendously.  That’s using the IRS to criminalize the behavior.

But wait, there’s more misogyny than even that!

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What Pelosi is referring to is an amendment that would give E.R. doctors the right to refuse care to women who come in with health or life-threatening conditions that require termination of the pregnancy to save their lives.  The most common kinds are things like ectopic pregnancies, where a woman can die if the embryo isn’t dissolved, as well as septic miscarriages where the fetus is dying but not dead yet.  If a doctor doesn’t want to terminate until after the fetus dies, this often means the woman will die of blood poisoning. 

Every Republican in the House and sixteen Democrats voted for this bill.  Now on to the Senate.

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Last week, I reported on the Indiana state legislature passing a bill to defund Planned Parenthood and basically ban all federal funds for family planning coming in to the state.  Well, late on Friday April 29th, Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the bill into law.  This despite the fact that Daniels has a reputation as someone who doesn’t go in for culture wars.  Rachel Maddow explained how he got this reputation.

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She went on to explain how signing a bill barring family planning funding is in fact the opposite of fiscally sensible policy.

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This news report of Maddow’s hinged on the assumption that Gov. Daniels was still trying to decide.  But in fact, not just a couple of hours before, he had signed the bill into law, which means that he chose to blow off the whole truce nonsense.  I guess by calling a truce, he meant just ignoring the liberals completely and doing whatever anti-choicers want, no matter how radical or outside the mainstream.  And this attack on contraception is the dictionary definition of being a fringe thing.  Most Americans use contraception.  And by “most” I mean the vast majority, about 99% of straight women at some point in their lives.  Planned Parenthood defunding involves using the word “abortion” a lot, but in reality, it’s about attacking contraception. 

It seems part of the problem is that Daniels was being taunted in public by wingnuts that are so far out there they’re orbiting distant planets.  Wingnuts like Rick Santorum.

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I’ll point out that Santorum isn’t even fronting like this is about abortion.  He’s deliberately vague about what he means by “sordid” activities, and I suspect he’s referring to their “sordid” practices of  treating women who aren’t virgins like they’re human beings who deserve health care.  Part of this is Santorum is on the record as opposing not just abortion but birth control.

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Even though he’s voted in the past to support contraception, he goes on to say that it’s bad for women.  You hear this a lot from anti-choicers, that reproductive rights are “bad” for women.  I think it helps to understand that their definition of “bad” for women is different than ours.  We think something is bad for women if it harms women.  They think it’s bad for women if it gives women a way to avoid being trapped in strict gender roles.  So what they really mean is that birth control is bad for patriarchy.

But Planned Parenthood isn’t going down without a fight.

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Indiana is just the first state, but it won’t be the last.  Kansas is already considering a law cutting off family planning, and odds are good that it’s going to pass there, too.  The result of all this will be that red states, who already have worse outcomes in terms of teen pregnancy and STD transmission, will just get even worse.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, that’s a whole lotta white dudes edition.  The Center for Reproductive Rights put together a video denouncing the Smith-Pitts bill, and they strung together a bunch of anti-choice legislators saying really wingnutty things.

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It’s stunning how out of touch these men are who think they can tell women what to do with their bodies.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte