Feminist Atheists, Personhood in Oklahoma, and No Copay Contraception


The no copay contraception benefit began last week, and the controversy continues. Personhood USA hasn’t given up on Oklahoma, and feminists are rising up inside the skeptic/atheist movement.

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SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/amandamarcotte/Documents/Show%20%23245.doc

Catholic business owners score temporary win against female employees

ACA covers prenatal care

Contraception is good for baby health

Personhood USA sues to get on the Oklahoma ballot

Greg Gutfeld denies the athletic value of women who can run circles around him.

On this episode of Reality Cast, Amy Davis Roth of Skepchick will be on to talk about trying to build a feminist movement within the skeptic’s movement. The contraception mandate goes into effect, though still with controversy, and personhood activists are suing to get on the ballot in Oklahoma.

Rush Limbaugh shows up in our Wisdom of Wingnuts a lot, but he was praising his sorry ass for being on air for 24 years, so I thought we could share some of his words of wisdom up top.

  • Limbaugh *

Yes, after 24 years, we’ve noticed that you have a big problem with women, Rush. Your irrational hatred has been a mainstay of your show, though I’m sure it has nothing to do with your inability to hold a marriage together for very long.

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August 1st was a big day, though a quiet one, for reproductive justice, because that’s the day that the initial roll out of the contraception mandate began. New plans bought on or after that day are required to have contraception available without a co-pay, and when plans renew, as they do annually, they also have to add the contraception benefit. This is but a small part of a huge package of preventive care that the Affordable Care Act requires to be available without a co-pay, but because of our country’s continuing hysteria over female sexuality, it’s the one that got all the attention. And all the lawsuits. One has already been dismissed by a judge on the grounds that it wasn’t really something the plantiffs could sue over, but unfortunately, there’s been a minor win from a private employee who wants to withhold benefits from female employees because he disapproves of their sex lives.

  • contraception 1 *

I’m sure you’ll be surprised to discover that the men suing for a right to discriminate against female employees by claiming it’s their religious right to have a vote in their employees’ sexual decisions are a bunch of cranky old white guys. It really is amazing how suddenly God mostly tells dudes that contraception is a sin and that proper ownership of the vagina belongs with them and not with the employees. I really hope their female employees are taking note; if your boss is this interested in controlling your sex life, he may not stop at refusing to pay benefits you earned.

Anyway, the court put in a preliminary injunction, but it’s mostly to hear out the arguments. Still, it’s worrisome, because the judge seemed amendable to the idea that an employer can withhold compensation from an employee over a religious difference. But the ruling only applied to this business, and can’t be translated to others.

There’s been a lot of attention paid to the contraception aspect of the new regulations, but it’s far from the only thing that’s now going to be available without a co-pay.

  • prevention 2 *

The way anti-choicers carry on, you’d think the Affordable Care Act was some kind of assault on the very existence of human reproduction, but as you can see from this, in fact, these regulations couldn’t be more pro-baby. By taking a lot of costs of prenatal care off the table, in fact, you’re probably going to see women who are a little on the fence about whether to have a baby decide to go ahead and do it. More importantly by a long shot, the babies that are actually born will be doing much better. It’s not just prenatal care, either. The bill requires breastfeeding equipment and services to be offered free, as well. Of course, we all know that anti-choicers only care about life from conception to birth, so none of this stuff that actually makes for healthier babies matters to them. But it’s still important.

While direct prenatal and newborn care are big deals, the contraception mandate contributes to better child health as well. The Guttmacher explained in their new video on this.  

  • prevention 3 *

Better prenatal care, fewer preterm births, more breastfeeding, and fewer neglected kids? All sounds good to me, but sadly, many people in this country still think that punishing women for having sex is still more important than making sure kids have the best possible start in life.

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insert interview

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Back in April, pro-choice activists had a huge victory in Oklahoma. The Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU, amongst other groups, sued to get a personhood amendment off the ballot in Oklahoma. The judge ruled not only that the amendment was unconstitutional, but that it was because abortion is a constitutional right. Not just of the federal constitution, but the state one. So that was awesome. But of course, Personhood USA and Personhood Oklahoma still believe that the people of a state should be allowed to vote to hand themselves control over women’s reproductive organs, so the fight isn’t over. They filed a petition with the Supreme Court basically saying their right to vote themselves ownership over other human beings superseded women’s right to own themselves. Personally, I thought this fight had been won over and over again, in favor of the basic human right to own your own body regardless of majority opinion. But I guess that fight is never really going to be completely over.

Abigail Pesta has been covering Personhood USA for The Daily Beast, and had some interesting things to say about their strategies. Especially how dangerous they are.

  • personhood 1 *

Right now, the whole thing is still about whether or not a judge was wrong to put individual rights over the right of a state to vote them ownership of your body simply because you have a uterus. So I don’t think that presents an immediate threat, since even the Supreme Court doesn’t really have the power to force a state to accept legislation without it being put in front of the legislature or the voters. Still, if the court really goes with Personhood on this, it really would send a signal that the basic right not to be forced to bear children against your will could be put up to a majority vote. And while the majority usually balks at taking it to the point where an abortion ban leaves them no room to think there will be exceptions for them, Oklahoma is pretty Bible-thumpy. They may be able to convince a slim majority that God would prevent them, because they’re good Christians, from ever needing basic rights that guarantee not only abortion but unobstructed access to medical services in the event of a miscarriage.

Overall, however, people are alarmed at the implications of personhood laws.

* personhood 2 *

 I’d find it almost endearing if it weren’t so annoying the way that Americans just want to assume the best of people, even in the face of aggressive evidence otherwise. But Keith Mason isn’t stupid, and he’s been apprised of the dangers of his policy. He knows that it might mean criminal investigations of miscarriages, and he knows that anti-choicers will not be held back by scientific evidence that shows the pill doesn’t kill fertilized eggs when they use this to try to ban birth control. He just doesn’t care. He disingenuously claims this isn’t an attack on birth control, but he and his wife have made it very clear that they are strict adherents to the nonsense concept of “purity”, wherein you can’t have sex outside of marriage and sex in marriage is for procreation. He has no love of women preventing pregnancy. As for the miscarriage situation, let’s be clear. Anti-choicers have very good reasons to believe that miscarriage and stillbirth investigations will be conducted selectively, targeting lower class women and women of color. As Mason and his wife are white and live pretty well, they have reason to believe law enforcement wouldn’t look too deeply into any of their miscarriages.

  • personhood 3 *

Having watched the movement grow, I think I can see why. They’re really good at reassuring people that the implications of their desired policies won’t affect their supporters. They’ve tapped into a vein of fundamentalist Christianity that is really married to wishful thinking, the same kind of people who believe if you pray for money hard enough, Jesus will give it to you. Because of this, the assumption is no longer just that women who have unintended pregnancies from consensual sex are sinners who deserve punishment. You’re seeing a lot more workaday fundies implying that even medical emergencies like miscarriages or crimes like rape are probably evidence that the victim wasn’t faithful enough. Or, if not that, then she is being tested by God. Either way, that means creating a legal infrastructure where all women of reproductive age are treated like a criminal class doesn’t bother them, though so far, it’s a step too far even for places like Mississippi.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, Olympics edition. There’s always going to be a breed of man that is so cowardly, so easily threatened, that he can’t even handle the idea of women being strong, capable athletes. And they come out in force during the Olympics. Such as our favorite, Greg Gutfeld.

  • gutfeld *

So he laid it out: Women’s athletics have no value, and women’s bodies are only good for sex objects. That’s basically the whole reason sexist dudes go on and on about the bikinis, as if they’ve never seen one before, to send the message that they really can’t stand the idea of women’s bodies having uses outside of screwing and baby-making. 

Follow Amanda Marcotte on Twitter: @amandamarcotte