The ERA, Rick Perry’s Sex Troubles, and Arizona’s Anti-Choice Extremism


 Autumn Sandeen explains how transphobia could hurt renewed ERA efforts. Rick Perry’s campaign dogged by sexual health issues, and Arizona forces three clinics to stop providing abortion.

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British public service announcements

Perry fumbles question on abstinence

180,000 Texans losing access to reproductive health care

Arizona Planned Parenthood cuts abortion services in three cities

Only 14% of gynecologists in the country perform abortion

Greg Gutfeld being a perv

On this episode of Reality Cast, Autumn Sandeen will be on to discuss the role of transgender rights in a potential battle over the Equal Rights Amendment.  More also on the Rick Perry campaign, and Arizona loses three clinics providing abortion all at once.

This is so cool.  The British government put every public service announcement ever up on the internet, as part of the national archives. Here’s one from 1987 about AIDS.

  • aids *

I remember when they did something similar in the U.S., sending a pamphlet out to every household in the country explaining how you could contract HIV and how to avoid it.  It seems a little strange now, but these campaigns probably did save a lot of lives.

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The Rick Perry campaign for the Republican nomination is heating up, and sexual health issues are becoming a big deal slash problem for Perry.  His strategy is to get the Tea Party vote, and that means pandering to the most sex-phobic, misogynist elements in the country.  But doing so can, in turn, make you look ignorant, indifferent to the public health, and mean-spirited.  The tension between these needs creates massive bumblings like this one, when Perry was confronted with empirical evidence regarding teen pregnancy and comprehensive sex education, which he opposes. 

  • perry 1 *

This is fairly typical of the way that anti-choicers play the game.  You point out that abstinence-only education doesn’t work, they say abstinence works.  But of course, the question isn’t, “Does abstinence work?”  Sure, for people who have no sexual desires and no desire to get pregnant, it works fine, just like people who don’t like the taste of food never struggle with their weight.  But the question is, “Does abstinence-only education work?”  Which is much different.  This is an empirical question.  Does scolding kids about how sex is evil make them not do it?  The answer is clearly no.  And that’s not even getting into the question of whether or not we should consider sex evil, which I don’t.  But they’re wrong on two levels.  They’re wrong to say sex is inherently wrong, and they’re wrong to say that telling kids sex is wrong prevents teenage pregnancy.  Clearly, it does the opposite.

But I do maintain that anti-choicers have never actually been interested in reducing the teenage pregnancy rate.  On the contrary, I think many of them feel that if girls are going to be having sex, they should be having babies, as punishment.  That’s why this conversation continues to go downhill.

  • perry 2 *

At the end of the day, making sure that teenagers feel guilty for being normal, healthy human beings with sexual desires matters more than any other consideration.  It’s weird, but I think Perry really loses his way because it seems like it never even occurred to him that prioritizing the health of his teenage citizens should matter.  Their health is not important.  If anything, I suspect anti-choicers are suspicious of health.  If people are healthy, that means their values are losing.  Unhealthy sexualities are evidence that their message that sex is wrong is taking.  Every girl who turns up pregnant because she was too ashamed to buy a condom is a victory for them, because at least she absorbed their belief that she’s a wicked girl who doesn’t deserve to have her health because she’s a sinner.  Which is why a question that presumes that health is the final goal just confuses the hell out of Perry.

Of course, Perry’s history of disregard for women’s health extends beyond his blathering about abstinence-only. 

  • perry 3 *

This is no small number, even in a big state like Texas.  For instance, every person in a population with an untreated STD is in danger of spreading it, even to just one person.  Texas already has high unintended pregnancy rates and this is just going to make it worse, too. 

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insert interview

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Extremely bad news in the war on Planned Parenthood and on abortion access. 

  • Arizona 1 *

This comes on the tail of a study showing that only 14% of gynecologists in the country even perform abortions, even though 97% of them have patients who’ve asked for one.  But that doesn’t even cover the full scale of how deprived women are in some parts of the country, since doctors in the Northeast and West coast were much more likely to provide them.  The loss of three clinics that perform abortion in Arizona is a huge loss. 

Rachel Maddow went on to explain why there’s been this huge loss.

  • Arizona 2 *

It’s worth pointing out, yet again, that abortion rights are meaningless without access. In fact, in the activist days before Roe v. Wade was decided, most of the focus of the abortion rights movement was on the actual problems of access more than abstract arguments about rights.  You had underground movements to help women get access to illegal but safe abortions.  You had speak-outs, where women talked about how the lack of affordable access drove them to do humiliating things, take risks with their health, or pay way too much money, often rendering them broke or putting them in debt to people they really couldn’t afford being in debt to.  But access is a more complex question than rights.  Most of the public is pro-choice, but they aren’t really well-educated on the issue, and so unless you grab their attention with news that actual rights are being threatened, they tune out.  Until, I suppose, you try to get an abortion at your local Planned Parenthood and find out they’ve shut their doors.

One thing that could change things for women in deprived areas is telemedicine, where doctors consult with you through the internet and help you use drugs through the mail, drugs like RU-486 that terminate pregnancies.  So for women living in places like rural Arizona, where access is limited, this could be a way to get safe abortions.  But surprise surprise, Arizona legislators anticipated this.

  • Arizona 3 *

Governor Jan Brewer then signed the bill into law.  The legislators of Arizona are determined to see the return of women killing themselves with coathangers, and they clearly want this to start happening sooner instead of later.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, super creep edition.  I often think that Greg Gutfeld’s entire qualification for being an anchor on Fox News is he comes across like a drooling pervert who doesn’t believe women are people, and is comforting to that large contingency  in the Fox audience.  This just confirmed my suspicions.

  • gutfeld *

Naturally, a picture was produced.  I honestly think, after watching these kinds of things from Fox, half our nation’s problems would be solved if everyone in the country took up a form of exercise and had sex at least twice a week.  People are just way too easily titillated, and it bespeaks immense physical deprivations. 


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