The HHS Freak-Out and Nursing Students for Choice


 The new HHS contraception requirements continue to cause a freak-out in right wing media. Stroke rates fror pregnant women see an alarming rise, and Nursing Students for Choice advocates for the unsung heroes of reproductive health care.

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Megyn Kelley lays into Mike Gallagher

O’Reilly resents health care for the ladies

Hannity makes it all about sexual resentment

Strokes up 47% amongst pregnant women

Is Greg Gutfeld trying to let us know something personal?

On this episode of Reality Cast, Erika Staub of Nursing Students for Choice will be on to discuss the role nurses play in making a full range of reproductive health care available.  Conservatives continue to flip out about the HHS regulations, and finally, and examination into why stroke rates for pregnant women have soared.

A weird moment from Fox News.  Hyper-conservative anchor Megyn Kelley is back from maternity leave, and she decided to confront pundit Mike Gallagher for using the fact of her maternity leave to call maternity leave “a racket”.

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Of course, Kelley doesn’t take her newfound understanding of why this is good policy to reexamine her negative attitudes towards other progressive policies, but still, it was an awesome moment.

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The fallout from the HHS requiring insurance companies to cover contraception continues in the right wing media.  Initially, there was a weak attempt at denouncing this regulation based on specious ideological grounds, with folks like the Family Research Council pulling out a weak argument about how this conflicts with the conscience of religious people.  But that argument fell apart within moments, because all you had to do was point out that insurance companies already cover contraception, and this just requires that they cover all instead of just some of it.  If it’s a matter of principle, that principle should have always been in play, you know?  The opportunism here was just too obvious. 

In the wake of discovering they have no argument against this ruling, did the pundits of Fox News decide to just go ahead and drop it?  What do you think?  Of course not.  This is a story about women somewhere out there dropping their drawers to do it with dudes out of your control and out of your sight.  That’s the sort of thing you just don’t skip over when the entire purpose of your channel is to whip up the resentments of a bunch of sexist right wing nuts.  So the new strategy is two-fold: blatant sexism and invoking sexual resentment and jealousy. 

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He’s painting this as some kind of lavish health care affirmative action for women, but the realities are far more complex.  The reality is that young women’s health care needs simply outstrip young men’s.  Both men and women are covered in the original plan for basic prevention with regards to regular check-ups and stuff that women and men have in common, like blood pressure and things like that.  But the ugly fact of the matter is women can get pregnant and men can’t, and that means women simply find themselves in a doctor’s office more often.  If that’s unfair, the unfairness is in biology.  What’s ironic here is that O’Reilly would be the first to scoff if someone said we should always treat men and women the same.  Anti-feminist like him are always railing on about how men and women are so different.  But when it’s actually an issue where there’s a legitimate difference, such as young women needing more health care than young men, suddenly they believe that men and women’s differences are irrelevant.  So they believe in fake differences, like women being more emotional or whatever, but actual differences, like you know, the existence of a uterus?  Then they scoff. 

Beyond just sexism, of course, there was lying in this clip.

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Dobbs was basically trying to pass off a lie that the costs should have been in the CBO estimates, which are based around subsidies and enforcement costs, but for some reason, O’Reilly corrected him.  But don’t let that distract you from the big lie.  The implication here is that this is going to somehow result in a net loss to the pocketbook for Americans.  But the reason that the health care act emphasizes prevention is the long-term savings, as well as the moral dimensions of preventing illnesses before they begin.  One reason that other countries with universal health care have lower per capita spending on health care is that prevention saves money. One reason we have spiraling health care costs is that Americans tend not to get sufficient preventive care.  This should fill in gaps. Obviously, there’s more going on here, and health care costs are spiraling because we don’t engage in cost control, and so they may very well continue to go up.  But let’s be clear, it’s not because of birth control pills that they’re going up.  Contraception is actually very cost-effective, particularly if more women start using long-acting forms like IUDs and sterilization.

But O’Reilly was being downright somber compared to Sean Hannity, who went straight for the resentment jugular.

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And there you have it: since the women we’re talking about aren’t having sex with Sean Hannity, he doesn’t want to pay for the contraception.  But sex isn’t a good to be purchased, except I suppose in the cases where sex workers are making a completely free choice to engage in sex work. Most sex is relational.  Hannity’s view here that someone is buying the sex with the contraception is nonsensical, anyway.  Most men aren’t actually paying for their partner’s contraception, I guarantee you.  At best, they split the costs, but in most cases, women bear the entire cost. Breaking the link between financing and sex is good for both men and women and for society as a whole, especially when you think of the immediate pragmatic results of lowering the unintended pregnancy rate.

By the way, I really like that Hannity figures his audience is easily provoked at the idea that someone, somewhere is having an orgasm and it’s not them.  Maybe they should turn off the TV and take measures that could get them in on the action.  More fun than just burning up with anger and resentment that someone else might be having fun. 

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insert interview

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In all the fuss over reproductive rights, stories about reproductive health sometimes fall by the wayside.  But I want to take the time to acknowledge an alarming CDC report about women, pregnancy, and stroke risk that recently came out. 

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One of the major factors in preventing high blood pressure from turning into a disabling or deadly stroke is getting routine prenatal care. Health care reform should help reduce this problem in two ways, therefore.  First of all, more women will be getting prenatal health care because they’ll have insurance.  But also, one of the major reasons women don’t get prenatal health care is they are experiencing unintended pregnancy, and because they didn’t want to get pregnant, they often can’t afford to see a doctor or even know they’re pregnant early enough to start appointments. 

But obviously, the rise in instances has less to do with these issues, which have been basically the same since forever, and more to do with root causes in the health problems of the general population.

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Rising rates of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity equal rising rates of pregnancy-related strokes.  But the suggestion that we simply screen for this is a problem, since the screening would have to take place before the woman got pregnant.  These health problems are concentrated in the poorer rungs of society, and guess what, so are unintended pregnancies.  Doctors should screen women intending to get pregnant for risk factors, but that’s going to have a limited scope, since the women with the risk factors are also that much more unlikely to be actively planning a pregnancy when they get pregnant. Still, it will catch some, and I hope that health care reform means that more women are planning their pregnancies with the full knowledge of their doctors.

For once, I think Fox News actually wasn’t that awful in their coverage of this.  It was a tad scolding, but the general gist of it was true.

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Of course, simply scolding women to take better care of themselves isn’t enough.  It’s not like people want to be addicted to cigarettes, eating poorly, and out of shape.  In order to affect widespread change, we’re going to have to do what Fox News doesn’t want to talk about, and that’s take a look at health and nutrition systems and why they contribute to this problem.  Honestly, I believe that while health care reform was a good start, it’s just not enough.  Smoking is down, but diabetes and obesity are up, and we need to take a long, hard look at the reasons that people aren’t eating right and getting exercise.  We need more sidewalks, fewer cars, more vegetables, less sweets.  And now not just for ourselves, but for the next generation.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, is Greg Gutfeld trying to share personal information edition?  That’s what I was forced to wonder when he said this on Fox News.

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Every mention of herpes on Fox News tends to get flagged by me, but this, I must say, is not usually how the health issues around human sexuality come up on that channel. 


Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte