Red States Making Legal Abortion Nearly Impossible

David Waldman explains why HR3 could be about more than abortion. An update on the continued war on reproductive rights in the states, and Bristol Palin gets a new reality show for doing nothing interesting.

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Rapists valued, rape victims not

South Dakota’s de facto ban on abortion

NPR covers the state laws

Ultrasounds don’t dissuade women from abortion  

Chris Smith’s horrible neglect of sperm murder cannot be tolerated any longer

On this episode of Reality Cast, David Waldman will be on to talk about the implications of HR3 beyond just abortion access.  Also, a quick look at where we’re at on the state level with assaults on abortion rights, and Bristol Palin gets a reality TV show.

This news made me so angry.

  • cheerleader *

Setting the legal issues aside, on what planet is this acceptable?  He pled guilty to raping her, he was allowed back on the team, and the school forced her to cheer for him or leave the team.  It’s about the most clear-cut example of rape culture you can get, but sadly is just about how it goes in more cases than not.


A week ago, I published an article at RH Reality Check where I detailed out how the new South Dakota restrictions on abortion are likely to constitute a ban on abortion.  In our new era of unprecedented legislating against abortion, South Dakota’s law stands out as particularly egregious.  When NPR did a segment on the over 900 anti-choice bills percolating in state legislatures this year alone, they focused on South Dakota and Texas, for somewhat different reasons.  South Dakota is just the worst.

  • abortion 1 *

Unfortunately, they didn’t discuss the aspect of the law that alarmed me so much that I wrote the article about it.  The law also requires a woman seeking abortion to go to an anti-choice crisis pregnancy center and submit to a lecture about abortion before getting abortion.  That’s bad enough, but what has happened is that no crisis pregnancy centers have signed up to do this, which makes it impossible for women to fill out their requirements to get an abortion.  When you say you have to do X to get Y, and then make X impossible, that’s a ban.  Luckily, Rachel Maddow picked up the story.

  • abortion 2 *

A lot of us were kicking ourselves after the story came out about how no pregnancy centers were signing up to do this, because we felt like we should have suspected this was the plan in the first place.  But we shouldn’t feel bad.  First of all, there’s something so diabolical about this that you almost have to be a nasty person to think of it in the first place.  Second of all, I think we all believed that the Bible thumpers of South Dakota were so eager to get a state-mandated captive audience to listen to their nonsense that they would be happy to be a part of this.  But it turns out that even the joy of lecturing the unbelievers is secondary only to the joy of forcing women to give birth against their wills.

To be clear, I may end up being wrong on all this.  They have another month and a half to register, and maybe they will.  We’ll see.  But I’m not holding my breath is all I’m saying. 

Texas has now joined the ranks of states that have ultrasound requirements.  This is a bigger deal than it usually is simply because of the size of the state.  It’s the second most populous state in the country, and has 67 abortion providers, all of which will have to comply with this nonsense.  Unfortunately, NPR had less than stellar coverage of the issue, because they brought in an anti-choicer who lied on air. 

  • abortion 3 *

I’ve been doing this podcast for a few years now, and I’ve learned that, anecdotally speaking, about 90-95% of anti-choice women use that condescending tone of voice when they say stupid things like that.  The problem isn’t that NPR lets the scolding sex phobes on or even that they let them lie on air per se.  The problem is that they just put that quote out there and didn’t actually fact check it.  Which took me exactly two seconds to do.  The NY Times looked over the research, which is sadly preliminary and small in scope, and found that no women in the study who looked at ultrasounds changed their mind.  And abortion clinics report that’s the case for them.  By the way, how would an anti-choicer have any experience with this in the first place?  She’s not the one providing pre-abortion check-ups, you know?   NPR, you’re journalists. Do some fact checking and show some skepticism.


insert interview


In case you have concerns that the world isn’t stupid enough, I have good news for you!  Bristol Palin is getting her own reality show.

  • palin 1 *

This is a fine country we live in.  Eventually, 100% of female celebrities will be known only for who they sleep with and how much time they spend pregnant.  Why did we even ever have those dark days when women were celebrated for things like being good at singing, acting, or even modeling?  Now it’s all child-bearing and plastic surgery.  Soon the tabloids will take to going to hospitals and finding random women there having either babies or nose jobs, and they’ll pick them to be famous by lottery. 

Of course, the problem with Bristol Palin isn’t that she’s one of our new celebrities who is famous for no good reason.  The problem is that her fame carries a whole bunch of anti-choice baggage with it.  Early on in her career as a public figure, she slipped up and said that she thought contraception was a good idea, but her mother has since reined her in and she’s become a spokeswoman for preventing pregnancy by not doing anything to prevent pregnancy, otherwise known as abstinence-only.  The good news is that having someone who is a visible demonstration of the failures of abstinence as a birth control method promoting it as a birth control method isn’t lost on much of the public. Jimmy Fallon had some fun making a fake promo for her new show.

  • palin 2 *

I’d say that maybe we’ll get lucky and the show won’t have any abstinence crap in it, but that’s unlikely to happen.  Bristol Palin doesn’t have any charisma and she’s not especially smooth, nor is she talented.  What she has is a public promise not to do it.  You can’t build a reality TV show around someone and then ignore what they’re famous for, right? 

And I think that’s what bothers me the most about Bristol Palin.  It’s not that she abstains, which is a legitimate lifestyle choice, though I remain skeptical that we can surmise much about her actual behavior from her purported behavior.  It’s that this is what she’s famous for—not abstaining and then abstaining.  This kind of attention sends the message that the most relevant, important, interesting thing about a woman is her private sexual choices, and not things like her skills, talents, activism, career, or anything that men have traditionally been famous for.  I’m sick of defining women by their sexuality.

But for Palin, defining herself around the activity in her vagina has become a very lucrative business.  She gets on reality shows, of course, but she also gets paid by non-profits to be a useless spokesperson for abstinence.

  • palin 3 *

The campaign that she was paid to work on is so stupid that it’s literally beyond belief that anyone thought it would do anything to alter the behavior of a single teenager.  Well, maybe if you want them to start having unsafe sex just in rebellion to the stupidity on display, but the ads put out by Candies are so stupid that they don’t even give rise to rebellious urges.  Just to looking flatly at the screen and saying, “What?”  Let’s just say The Situation from “The Jersey Shore” was in them.

  • palin 4 *

As someone who actually watches “The Jersey Shore”, I have to point out that there was a small plot line based around the fact that The Situation doesn’t actually practice safe sex like he ought to.  So we have an ad that’s promoting abstinence from a woman who didn’t practice it and safe sex from a man who was mocked on national television for not practicing it.  I have to wonder if Candies is playing some kind of expensive joke on all of us. 


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, Chris Smith edition.  It’s hard to know what to say, because Rep. Chris Smith is so far off the farm that I can’t add anything that would make you shake your head more at him.

  • smith *

I disagree with Smith.  The most oppressed minority in the world are the trillions of sperm left to die in gym socks and bed sheets every day.  I can’t believe he rattles on about the relatively small number of microscopic fetuses lost when even smaller and even cuter sperm die at the heartless hands of men the world over.  And unlike when women get abortion, these sperm killers are actually getting off on their murder! 

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • julie-watkins

    It’s horrid.


    I read the dKos discussion on this. If I’m remembering the reported timeline the not-cheering episode happened before the plea-bargain. I think the timing may have been:

    1. HS complains to local cops, they won’t do anything. At least the coach (maybe the whole school/community) knows about the complaint.
    2. HS is ordered to cheer or be removed from team.
    3. HS & family take another route & the trial is set, he plea-bargains.

    So this is a case (looks like to me) that the Coach & team & school were all victim blaming & her cheering for him at that time would be psychologically equivalent to saying “He’s right, I lied.” — or that’s the way it appeared to me. I ran across it after the conversation has wound down & I don’t think anyone else approached it quite that way. It was an ugly discussion.

    If I have this correctly, that’s a good example of “blame the victim”, “the sports star is more important than any female”, etc. Again, I don’t know the details for certain but since it’s SOP for rape culture, I think it likely.

    There was also discussion about how “false rape charges” can raise havoc on minority men — and we had a “false rape” situation here in my community when the police wanted to frame a community activist. The tell-tales of that kind of situation don’t seem to apply to the HS incident.

  • colleen

    It was an ugly discussion.

    I read a discussion on DK about this case and indeed,unwisely, participated in it. Was it this one?:

     If DK is ‘progressive’ on reproductive or violence against women issues we need to examine with a critical eye what it means to be ‘progressive’ and who our allies are.

  • julie-watkins

    But maybe that was because I keep having to stop and get angry. I remember the “ugly” as being, among other things, for victim blaming & saying it was legally OK for the school to insist (since she was representing the school). No empathy. The school could have handled it differently if it wasn’t 1) rape culture country & 2) sport stars are much more important than girls.

     If DK is ‘progressive’ on reproductive or violence against women issues we need to examine with a critical eye what it means to be ‘progressive’ and who our allies are.

    The purpose of dKos is to “elect Democrats”, so there you are. Democrats often will throw women under the bus, because election politics are about winning. And we’re bad sports and “single issue voters” when women & allies try to object. And, being essentially in the ruling class (I own my home, I have a state job & pension, etc.) they actually have me there. If the pragmatic choice is some health coverage for everyone (even if sexist: ie, men get OK coverage & women get some coverage) and the alternative is no health care, I’m not going to insist on purity when advocates for the poor are supporting the less-than-perfect outcome. So I’m being “reasonable”. But the usual sexist game-players on dKos take me & others doing that as prooving they were right and I was being silly to object. Grrr. I’m posting a lot less on dKos after finding RHRC.

  • arekushieru

    Julie, I believe that as long as supports are in place, there’s a good starting point.  If there are NO supports in place, like there wasn’t for women who didn’t want to be pregnant, with the Stupak-on-Steroids bill, or for women who were black in the late/early 19th/20th centure during the suffragette uprising, there’s no starting point.  And starting points are the minimum requirements in gaining an egalitarian society.