The Skeptical OB, the New Battle of EC, and Christmas Sourpusses

Editor’s note: This podcast contains an interview with Dr. Amy Tuteur, whose work and opinions on home birth are widely challenged.  The interview and contents of this podcast reflect the author and interviewee alone, and are  in no way meant to imply RH Reality Check‘s support of the views expressed.

Pressure on the White House to rethink the restrictions on Plan B intensifies. Right wing pundits celebrate Christmas by attacking women. Also, a doctor speaks out about the dangers of home birth.

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Links in this episode:

Jon Stewart on the UN disability treaty

Man denied his right to buy emergency contraception

Emergency contraception debate

How does emergency contraception work? 

The AAP recommends doctors pre-prescribe emergency contraception

Imaginary war on Christmas blamed on gays, abortion

Limbaugh blames feminism for “ruining” women

Dana Perino blames victims of violence for their “decisions”

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll interview a doctor who takes a skeptical look at the home birth movement. I’ll also report more on the push to expand access to emergency contraception, and do a round-up of conservatives celebrating the holiday by bashing women.

The Senate recently blocked a UN Treaty regarding the rights of disabled people, because the treaty said that disabled people should have access to sexual health care and because it said that disabled children are people, not property. Jon Stewart reacted.

  • daily show *

Frankly, I don’t think the opposition believes in equal rights for the disabled, but the official opposition was based in their hostility to the UN, to the idea that all people deserve to control their fertility, and to children’s rights. Which is really saying something.


A couple of weeks ago, this podcast reported on a new push from the Reproductive Health Technologies Project for the HHS to reexamine its unprecedented choice to overrule the FDA’s science-based decision to make Plan B emergency contraception available over the counter. Since then, the story has definitely gotten some traction, in no small part because activists have highlighted the way that putting Plan B behind the pharmacy counter and requiring you to show ID proving you’re 17 or over screws over people that are supposed to have access without a prescription. Here at RH Reality Check, we published a video from a couple who was denied access by a pharmacist who had some weird ideas about what people get up to with this drug. This couple had a condom break and Jon, the male partner, was gracious enough to go to the pharmacy to buy Plan B for his girlfriend Hilary. This is what happened:

  • plan b 1 *

This is, sadly, not an unusual story. A lot of pharmacists don’t know that men have a right to buy emergency contraception, or, as in this case, they buy into the sexist notion that the only reason a man would bring himself to buy a “lady” product is that he’s a criminally minded pervert. Indeed, the assumption that people who have non-procreative sex, which is about 99% of the population,  are out of control perverts is really the only reason that there’s so much pressure not to make emergency contraception available over the counter. That’s the opinion of Wendy Wright of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, who was interviewed by NPR about this, and who thinks that pretty much all of you need to quit having sex.

  • plan b 2 *

Since 99% of sexually active women have used contraception, the notion that we’re too stupid to plan ahead for sex has been demonstrated to be untrue beyond a shadow of a doubt. But I suspect that’s not what Wright’s on about anyway. In fact, she doesn’t really conceal that she thinks sexual health should be a hassle for no other reason than she wants to meddle in your sex life. Also, the vast majority of teenage girls having sex are not being abused. Raising that is a way to confuse the issue and also to imply that young women can’t be having sex for their own reasons. But in those sad cases where a girl is raped, I fail to see what benefit we get from forcing her to get pregnant because she had to go through so many hopes to get contraception. Oh, except the rapist. He benefits by continuing to exert power over his victim and extending her suffering.

I will say that at least Wright avoided lying and saying that Plan B is abortion, something that most anti-choicers continue to do, despite the fact that it is not an abortion.

  • plan b 3 *

As for the notion that teenagers have to see a doctor in between intercourse and getting access to emergency contraception—a process that increases the chances of pregnancy every day that you have to wait to get your appointment and pick up your prescription—well, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly disagrees.

  • plan b 4 *

The AAP has previously said that it should be available over the counter without a prescription, but since that’s not the law yet, this recommendation can allow teenagers not to suffer what Wright wants them to suffer, which is having to count off the minutes they could be ovulating while trying to get pills to prevent it. This report also notes that there’s no evidence that having emergency contraception on hand increases the likelihood of risky sexual behavior, once again demonstrating Wright is making evidence-free assertions. One starts to wonder if she’s simply making stuff up because she’s against the idea of expanding contraception access altogether. Just kidding! I know that’s why.


insert interview


  • Christmas music *

This is the last podcast until the new year, folks, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a little time to investigate the ongoing idiocy of right wing media. It’s that most wonderful time of the year when the holiday season inspires conservative demagogues to new heights of culture warriordom,  While every Christmas season is a time for conservatives to turn up the volume on claims that a cadre of gays, feminists, and atheists are out to get them, this year has turned especially bad in light of evidence that these people actually might finally have real power at the voting booth. Indeed, according to Bill O’Reilly and some guest whose name I didn’t catch, gays and feminists are specifically out to end Christmas because you can’t wrap up an abortion and put it under a tree:

  • Christmas 1 *

Oh yes, that “Judeo-Christian” faith that loves Christmas and hates gays and abortion. I keep looking for this church, but not finding it, and people keep angrily insisting when I ask around that Judaism and Christianity are not actually the same religion. Indeed, some of them insist that Christmas isn’t even a Jewish holiday, and that it’s offensive to suggest that they are Christians. And some of them even tell me that a lot of Christians are pro-gay and pro-choice! Also, that there is no official Church of America enshrined in our Constitution. I’m beginning to think that Bill O’Reilly is full of it. Next you’re going to tell me that people actually gather around Christmas trees and unwrap presents on this holiday, instead of show up at abortion clinics to harangue women for having sex. I mean, banning abortion is the reason for the season, is it not?

Limbaugh also has chosen to spend this holiday season whining about the feminists, who have ruined women by convincing women they aren’t actually toys who were put on earth to serve men without complaint.

  • Christmas 2 *

Yeah, women! You exist for one reason and one reason only: To act submissive and suppress your ambitions so that dudes can feel superior to you. And if you refuse, those dudes will totally check out, because they are entitled—entitled—to have half the human race give up their hopes and dreams in exchange for being playthings for the other half. Merry Christmas, ladies! I know you want to be treated like human beings, but letting you have rights makes as much sense as letting a couch have rights. You’re there for others to use, not to have a life of your own.

Seriously, unlike Limbaugh or Paglia, I do not believe men are hardwired to be idiots or monsters, and I do not believe they need to clip the wings of half the human race in order to have their own ambitions and desires. But even if men were this way, so what? That’s the sticking problem with the argument—even if men are as terrible as Limbaugh claims, that’s men’s problem, not women’s.

Limbaugh also turned up the Christmas cheer by going off on a rant that was incoherent and paranoid even by his already high standards.

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Reminder: 3 out of 5 women getting abortions are mothers already, and most will become mothers. Abortion is only about 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services. Also, Limbaugh has four marriages under his belt, but no children. But he’s a rich dude, so he gets to control his reproduction if he damn well pleases. Being forced to have kids whether that’s what you want right now for yourself is for you non-rich ladies.

But I don’t want to end this segment on a sour note before I take a break for the holiday season! So, having played right wingers using Christmas to denounce women, gays, and demand forced childbirth for everyone but themselves, I now give you Stephen Colbert making fun of all that.

  • Christmas 4 *

Stephen Colbert actually used the word “patriarchy” on TV. If that’s not a heart-warming gift for Christmas, then you don’t have a heart.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, one more edition. Because you want to hear one more asinine thing that some conservative pundit said on TV, right? This is Dana Perino, Fox News contributor, blaming murder victim Kasandra Perkins for being murdered at her boyfriend’s hands.

  • perino *

The possibility that men could choose against violence wasn’t even entertained. Because that’s apparently taboo. Well, despite this, have a happy holiday, and this podcast will be back in two weeks!

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • bryonyvaughn

    Base on the respect for women’s choice that’s so critical to your cause I’m surprised you chose Dr Amy Tuteur to inform your listeners on homebirth in the United States.  She has a long reputation of stating her opnions as facts, claiming support from scientific studies that don’t exist, misrepresenting study results, all the while demanding extremely high evidentiary standards of people who disagree with her and refusing to acknowledge damning evidence presented.  A long line of burned bridges with colleagues is the result.  She has a clear agenda which is not at all in line with presenting women with opportunities for informed decision making.  I’m sorry RH Reality Check’s reputation has been sullied by its implicit endorsement of Dr. Amy Tuteur as a reliable spokesperson on any subject.  I thought better of you.


  • Tatiana

    Oh “Dr. Amy”, confounding the meaning of Homebirth Midwives to suit your agenda. All of the Homebirth Midwives I’ve worked with have been Certified Nurse Midwives so your assumption that Certified Professional Midwives are the only ones to attend homebirths is incorrect. CPMs also often work at freestanding birth centers so I really don’t know where you’re getting your overgeneralized information from. Both kinds of Midwives are trained in physiological childbirth, they are aware of possible maternal & infant complications and the clinical warning signs, they both are capable of resuscitating a neonate, and their kits include anything that can be found in a Labor & Delivery suite in a hospital (oxygen tank, supplies for laceration repair, uterotonics, sterile instruments, delee’s, etc). If CPMs are such unskilled labor attendants, why does The Farm have such great statistics (see link)?

    Instead of attacking women who have lost their children (Dr. Amy has a favorite hobby of maliciously reaching out to women who have lost their babies during homebirths), how about being appalled at the level of maternity care in this country? The rampant elective inductions and c-sections that put mom and baby at risk? The OBs who cut episiotimies without consent, who bully women into having c-sections to fit their schedule, who push formula to women during the most delicate epoch of their breastfeeding journey.

    If homebirths are so dangerous, why is it I have attended the homebirths of several L&D nurses, CNMs, CPMs, and even a handful of OBs from prestigious NYC hospitals? If hospitals are supposedly the safest, why wouldn’t the clinicians who work there choose to birth there?