Komen Messes Up, Primary Gets Uglier, and MRAs Analyzed


Molly Dragiewicz explains the war on victims of domestic violence. The Florida primary escalates the anti-choice rhetoric, and Susan G. Komen steps in it big time, giving pro-choicers a huge moral victory.

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Florida an anti-abortion primary?

Rapists = Santa Claus?

Komen pulls funding from Planned Parenthood

Why did Komen genuinely pull its funding?

Lizz Winstead unleashes the fury

Young Turks on the Komen controversy

On this episode of Reality Cast, Molly Dragiewicz will explain the dangers presented by the so-called  men’s rights movement to victims of domestic violence. The Florida primary brought out some ugly anti-choice rhetoric, and Susan G. Komen caves to anti-choice pressure to drop their support of Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is admirably proactive about protecting themselves from the constant crap they’re getting as of late. Here’s a bit from their new ad asking people to keep having their back.

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The attacks on Planned Parenthood indicate that the anti-choice movement has finally started to do what they’ve always said they wanted to, which is to mount a full frontal assault on all reproductive health care that allows women to have healthy sex lives. It’s about abortion, but it’s also about contraception, STD prevention and treatment, and having healthy attitudes about sex.

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For awhile, it seemed that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich might actually give Mitt Romney a run for his money in the Republican nomination process. But I think it’s occurring to both of them that they’re splitting the anti-Romney vote, which is dominated by evangelical Christians who are immersed in anti-choice politics and serious identity politics. The logical thing to do is to have a meeting where one drops out and they quit splitting that vote, but let’s face it: The kind of egos that led someone who lost as an incumbent in his state by 18 points and someone who resigned in disgrace from the House of Representatives to think that they should run for President are the kind of egos that will disallow any such common sense approach to politics. Instead, it seems Santorum and Gingrich have decided to turn up the volume on anti-choice and anti-gay rhetoric in hopes of getting a larger portion of the anti-Romney vote. It’s worth noting, of course, that Romney is also anti-choice and anti-gay. But the voters they’re trying to win over feel that he’s not anti-choice or anti-gay enough. How is hard to say. It’s just a feeling they have.

But while Santorum and Gingrich may be been a little more moderate earlier in the campaign, both have taken a hard turn to the right since South Carolina. Part of it is the pressures of the Florida campaign. The anti-choice presence in Florida is really strong, as Alan Grayson explained on Rachel Maddow.

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But the effect may be even more pronounced in Florida, as Grayson and Maddow explain, because the enthusiasm for restricting abortion rights is off the hook there.

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I think a lot of it is that the conservative vote in Florida is older than average, and that’s saying a lot, because conservatives are generally older then the public at large anyway. At least now that’s true, though it’s not inevitable. There have been periods when the elderly are more liberal than the public at large. But right now, we’re facing an aging population that is constantly being stoked by Fox News and other right wing outlets to hate younger people, and to see them as leeches and nuisances. A lot of that hostility comes out with regards to sex. Young women are portrayed as out-of-control sluts who need to be taught a lesson, and restricting abortion rights is seen as one way to do that.

The result is that Gingrich and Santorum have turned up the volume. Going into the primary, Gingrich not only said he’d ban stem cell research, but that he’d be eyeballing IVF, too. Someone should have countered him with ads making it clear to Florida Republicans that banning IVF could directly affect them, since it could mean no grandchildren. Santorum is also upping the ante. When pushed on the question of whether or not rape victims should be allowed abortions, Santorum said no and added:

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You may think being held down and forced to have sex is a violent crime, but for Santorum, apparently, the rapist is just really generous and giving you the precious gift of sperm. Ugh. Part of what’s going on here is that a lot of people think that rape victims were asking for it by doing slutty things like going on dates or to parties or leaving their house after dark, or whatever new patriarchal rule you can’t break but you also can’t not break. There’s not a lot of distinguishing between consensual and non-consensual sex with conservatives. Mostly because they’re more interested in distinguishing between good girls and bad girls, and tend to think rape victims are bad girls, and forced childbirth is the cure.

In the Florida primary, Gingrich and Santorum again split the vote, with Gingrich taking more evangelical voters than Romney. But Romney still won, with a larger share of the vote than Gingrich and Santorum combined.

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insert interview

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It was the shot of B.S. heard round the internet.

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It was clear from the get-go that this was about years of anti-choicers bullying Komen to cut ties with Planned Parenthood, as part of their larger mission to shun what I call below-the-belt reproductive health care. Antis first targeted Komen when they were trying to get them to claim that abortion causes breast cancer, which it doesn’t, but then they just hung in. The message was basically, “We’ll let you have boobs, if you just shun vaginas.” Komen denied that they were caving in to anti-choice pressure, but it didn’t take long for journalists to discover that anti-choice people had been promoted to decision-making positions in Komen. Komen claims they have a rule about not working with anyone “under investigation”, but what Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic found was that they only created that rule after Rep. Stearns opened a nuisance investigation of Planned Parenthood. It’s obvious to everyone that this was a response to anti-choice pressure. Cecile Richards from Planned Parenthood isn’t shy about pointing this out, either.

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The outcry from pro-choice activists was swift and angry, especially since Komen is being disingenuous and giving in to anti-choicers using dirty tricks. Lizz Winstead went on Countdown on Current TV and unleashed the fury on Komen for putting politics and their corporate-friendly image in front of actually getting health care to women who need it.

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This added to the outcry. There was already a lot of distrust towards Komen from the left. It wasn’t for partisan reasons in the slightest, but started with concerns about how Komen is increasingly dependent on corporate sponsorships. The concern was that corporations were using the pink ribbon for their own purposes, and some times those purposes were at odds with women’s health. For instance, a lot of junk food companies like KFC gave Komen money and then draped themselves in pink to indicate concern for breast cancer, even though eating a lot of saturated fat is linked with breast cancer. It can have the effect of discouraging women from taking steps to care for themselves by eating better. There were also concerns that not enough of Komen’s money was going to research and treatment, and instead going to vague campaigns to “raise awareness” whose main value was getting more corporate sponsorship. Corporate sponsorships are fine, don’t get me wrong. But there has to be balance.

But mostly that criticism lurked in the background, because it was hard to point to a specific incident where Komen actually went against their own mission in order to shore up their brand as some asexual apple pie and baseball thing. But they did go against their mission when they went against Planned Parenthood, and now people are pissed. It’s also because it’s just straight up bullying, as Cenk on Young Turks explained.

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The problem is that anti-choicers can’t win this fight on their arguments, so they resort to dirty tricks and bullying and misinformation campaigns. The Komen situation is just the latest in a parade of dirty tricks, and the outpouring of anger is due to people’s intense frustration with how dirty anti-choicers play.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, the rhetoric is getting more radical by the minute edition. This is Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, on why he opposes federal subsidies for contraception, STD prevention and treatment, and cervical cancer screenings.

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He opposes funding contraception, STD prevention and treatment, and cervical cancer screenings because he believes these have nothing to do with the “basic needs of health care”. None of these things are abortion, no matter how much he flings the word around. Of course, abortion is also part of basic health care, but it’s worth noting that the net has grown to the point where any health care related to being sexually active has been defined away from being health care.


Follow Amanda Marcotte on Twitter: @amandamarcotte