Looking Forward for the Court, and Michigan’s New Anti-Choice Laws


Scott Lemieux breaks down 2012 and lays out what to expect in 2013 in the Supreme Court. Michigan passes a grotesque anti-abortion law, and Philadelphia high schools install free condom dispensers.

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Al Sharpton on Michigan’s stealth abortion restrictions

Gov. Snyder signs a bunch of abortion restrictions

Philadelphia high school puts in condom dispensers

On this episode of Reality Cast, Scott Lemieux will be on to talk about the Supreme Court in 2012 and 13. Michigan sneaks in an extensive anti-choice bill, and Philadelphia high schools start installing free condom dispensers.

I imagine I’ll have more reporting on this story as it develops, but for now, there’s this.

  • vawa *

Yep, that’s about it. Honestly, considering the bad faith arguments about “religious freedom” and “fetal life” in the attack on reproductive rights, I’m skeptical that this entire bill was really killed just because Republicans are standing on some obscure principle about jurisdiction.

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Any hope that lame duck legislatures would have accepted the outcome of the election, where pro-choicers turned out in huge numbers in no small part to say no to the anti-choice outcome, has been dashed with the behavior of Michigan legislators in December 2012. Instead of spending the last days of this legislative session going home and enjoying Christmas, the lame duck legislature enacted a full-blown attack on union rights and women’s rights. Indeed, the legislature put together a series of abortion bills that are some of the most restrictive in the nation. Al Sharpton reported in early December.

  • Michigan 1 *

Indeed, one of the most surreal aspects of it is the requirement that abortion clinics do all these special things to dispose of quote-unquote fetal remains, even though 79% of abortions do not actually involve a fetus, but are done at the embryonic stage. Not that it matters. In fact, the inability of people to interpret the law may be a point in its favor, as far as anti-choicers are concerned, because it might make them afraid of getting shut down no matter what they do. Yes, the claim is that Michigan wants to mandate the width of the doors in abortion clinics to protect women’s health, but no one believes that any more than we believe that if they claimed they were doing it in order to appease the evil witch of Ann Arbor.

But what makes this really amazing is how this was so important to Michigan lawmakers that they had to rush this through the legislature at the last minute. Because Michigan, which contains Detroit by the way, has so few real problems that they have nothing better to do with their time than sneak through a bunch of anti-choice laws the voters don’t even want. Nancy Keenan was on Al Sharpton’s show, talking about the stealthy nature of this.

  • Michigan 2 *

It’s worth remembering that but a few years ago, the popular theory on the left was that Republicans were just using abortion as a way to trick the religious plebes into voting for them, and that they didn’t intend to actually do anything about it. The reality, it turns out, is the opposite. These politicians got voted in claiming to have a jobs plan and an economic plan, but when it came down to the wire and they only had a little time left in the year to push through an agenda, the one they picked was restricting women’s rights. It’s much the way that Hobby Lobby has now been given a choice between blocking their employees’ earned contraception coverage and paying $1.3 million a day in fines, and they chose the former. Misogyny is quite literally that important to conservatives. When the chips are down, the thing they’ll cling onto again and again is this deep-set desire to punish women for having sex. It’s amazing.

Naturally, the governor of Michigan, even though it’s clear that the voters did not elect him with an eyeball towards eliminating women’s basic human rights, was fully behind this plan to sneak this restrictive abortion ban in while most people were too busy with the holidays to notice.

  • Michigan 3 *

The apparent reason that he vetoed the bill on the insurance thing is that the bill didn’t have these exceptions, and after a year of Republican candidates getting pummeled by the press for being ugly and cruel to rape victims, I guess Snyder was a little wary of going there again. But it is interesting that he declined to pick another fight over insurance, since attacking women’s abortion and contraception coverage is a popular strategy of anti-choicers lately.

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Insert interview

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A handful of Philadelphia high schools, in response to realizing that 5% of their student body has acquired an STD, have decided to install free condom dispensers at the school. They wisely did this over the Christmas break, which means that right wing nuts who are distracted by the fake war on Christmas might not notice too much. And largely, that was correct, but of course a Fox News outlet had to do a piece that was equal parts titillation and trying to drum up outrage over the whole thing.

  • philly 1 *

Oh, there’s so much wrong in that woman’s statement. First of all, teenagers aren’t really children anymore, and really the only time people call them that is if they’re trying to drum up some outrage. And even if they are children, they’re not “young” children. They’re, at best, late stage children, though we tend to call them young adults. But her assumption that teenagers having sex is some sign of the times is 100% false. She looked to be in her early 40s, so actually when she was young, kids were having more sex at younger ages. Quoth Guttmacher: “In 2006–2008, some 11% of never-married females aged 15–19 and 14% of never-married males that age had had sex before age 15, compared with 19% and 21%, respectively, in 1995.” This is not a sign that kids are having more sex so much as a sign that contraception is being normalized as a public health measure, which it is.

Despite the attempts by Fox to make it sound like there’s some conflict between enjoying Christmas and wanting better sexual health for teenagers, there isn’t, and they found plenty of parents, especially mothers, who were happy to support this measure. But one woman who did came into conflict with her husband.

  • philly 2 *

Ah yes, the evidence-free belief that kids show no interest in sex until the stodgy old adults in their lives start acknowledging the existence of sex. Because teenagers are well known to only want to do exactly what adults tell them. I particularly love the idea that sex is only intriguing if it’s “advertised”. Have you ever seen a condom dispenser? If that turns you on, it’s because you were already there. The truth of the matter is sex sells itself, and it’s really strange seeing one adult after another just act like they themselves were never young and thus have no concept of what it was like.

Fox read some responses from their Facebook page.

  • philly 3 *

Again, the vague claim that adults acknowledging sex is somehow an “encouragement” to have sex, which makes no kind of sense. Were people ever teenagers, for real? My parents couldn’t tell Nirvana from Pearl Jam, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have strong opinions on which one I preferred, which is Nirvana for the record. This belief that parental and teacher input forms teenage desires just makes anyone who spouts it sound like an idiot. Ditto the belief that a teenager who has sex somehow marks a parenting failure. The truth is that many to most teenagers have sex for reasons of their own that have little to do with parents. It’s often much more dependent on factors like if they found a boyfriend or girlfriend in high school than if their parents approve. Research shows that far more parents think their kids are abstaining than actually are. These kinds of realities aren’t evidence that the world is going to hell or anything like that. If kids are being responsible and using condoms, we should applaud them for taking responsibility for themselves. Framing condom use as a failure of responsibility causes more STDs and pregnancy, because it creates a situation where kids might refuse to carry condoms for fear of getting in trouble and then, when they do have sex, they don’t have any on hand.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, you knew it was going to happen edition. In the media melee after the Sandy Hook shooting, conservatives looked to blame anything but the proliferation of assault rifles for what happened. Mike Huckabee blamed what is clearly the source of all evil for him, women’s sexual liberation.

  • huckabee *

By “abortion pills”, he means pills that suppress ovulation, which anti-choicers are calling abortion now. So there you have it: Claiming that because women use contraception and because people supposedly don’t have religion, Adam Lanza shot up a school. Never mind that Adam Lanza has never used the birth control pill and that he was a member of a church, of course. Can’t let reality infringe on these idiotic claims. 

Follow Amanda Marcotte on Twitter: @amandamarcotte