North Dakota and New Zealand’s Abortion Bans


North Dakota bans abortion after 6 weeks

Why North Dakota?

Child protester says gays are “worthy of death”

Gay marriage “fraud”?

Dave Agema calls gays “filthy”

Limbaugh lying about health care again

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be talking to Alison McCullouch about abortion laws in New Zealand. North Dakota’s governor signs a bunch of terrible anti-choice legislation, and anti-gay folks start getting uglier.

Lynn Paltrow of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women was on Grit TV talking about how anti-choicers are attacking pregnant women’s personhood from all sorts of angles, not just abortion.

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Under laws that were supposedly established to prevent violence against pregnant women, women are getting arrested for giving birth to stillborns. So-called personhood laws will just make it worse, giving the state authority to prosecute women who miscarry, or to accuse women of “child neglect” if they aren’t being pregnant the way the authorities want them to be pregnant. Eat a soft cheese in a personhood state and have the cops at your door. It sounds crazy, but the efforts in that direction are starting.

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In all the fuss over the growing possibility that the Supreme Court may overturn DOMA, there wasn’t time to cover the situation in North Dakota last week. But there has been a development since I last reported on it. While the legislature had enough votes one way or another, the governor of North Dakota decided to sign off on what amounts to a ban on abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy.

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I do love the knee-jerk mainstream media wariness of ever stating a fact that, no matter how indisputable, might ruffle conservative feathers. This isn’t a “most legal experts” type of situation. If you deny that this ban is in violation of Roe, your understanding of the law is too poor for you to qualify as a “legal expert”. The law violates Roe. This is a fact, not in dispute, even by the people who passed it. Legally, this is the equivalent of creating a whites-only public school in direct violation of Brown v. the Board of Education. It’s not only an obvious violation of the court’s ruling, but it would be a flagrant rejection of it.  This is an attempt to get the court to overturn Roe v. Wade, and nothing more. Let’s not play around.

It’s going to be a very expensive attempt, to boot, especially for a state like North Dakota that is relatively sparsely populated, which is to say they don’t have much of a tax base.

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Basically, the state’s elected representatives have decided to take a huge chunk of their taxpayers’ money and use it to challenge a 40-year-old court decision that is as popular as it ever was, which is to say very, with only 29% of the population wanting the decision overturned, according to Gallup. Pew finds that 54% of Americans still want abortion legal in all or most cases.  In South Dakota, they tried to ban abortion directly by ballot initiative and lost. So why are North Dakota’s elected officials willing to tax their citizens and spend that money on a fool’s errand? Rachel Maddow explained that state senator Curtis Olafson, who is anti-choice, blocked a similar abortion ban a couple of years ago because he sensibly understood that the state has to obey Supreme Court decisions.

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She doesn’t say it, but I think the implication is clear: The religious right is holding a lot of Republican politicians hostage, threatening them with primary challenges. Such a strategy could work, too. After decades of right wing talk radio and Fox News making the word “liberal” seem like the worst thing you could call someone, plenty of seats in this country are sure wins for Republicans, because voters there will vote for anyone with the R by their name. Since most voters don’t vote in primaries, however, extremists can exert a lot of control over who gets to be the person on the ballot with an R by their name. Whether or not Personhood USA can really primary all these state legislators is debatable, but it’s not unreasonable at this point to think they fear it. It’s a much easier thing to sneak extremists in through the primary system when it comes to state legislatures than the national Congress, because most people don’t bother to research candidates before voting on that level. And Congress has tons of legislators that are afraid of a primary challenge, which is why so many Republicans voted against the Violence Against Women Act.

So there you have it: North Dakota is basically in the thrall of a really small minority that’s learned to game the system. The 6 week ban isn’t even about North Dakota per se; they were just the easiest state for anti-choice activists to hijack to push their national agenda. Something to keep in mind when someone complains that this should be left to the states.

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insert interview

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Last week, I addressed some of the conservative attempts to deal with the changing tide of public opinion on gay rights and same-sex marriage. Since then, things have taken a nastier turn. It was a somewhat predictable turn of events. We know that right wing culture warriors don’t take well to losing, for one thing. For another, the anti-gay position, regardless of what its defenders might want to say, is based in bigotry. Unsurprisingly, then, bigotry comes pouring out of people who hold it when they’re feeling challenged. We learned this lesson with the anti-choice movement, which has cultivated a nationwide team of people to harass women for daring to think they have a right to get abortions in private, some of whom believe they’re entitled to threaten or even kill providers. Not surprising we’re seeing the same thing start to rear its head with gay rights, since the overlap between anti-choicers and anti-gay people is nearly absolute.

Easter is a particularly bad time of year for this.  The anti-choice movement has declared it, basically, a holiday for lady-hating and they have a bunch of protests of women’s rights on the day. This Easter had anti-gay protests that included this small child yelling invective at church-goers at a pro-gay church.

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Less frightening but still incredibly hateful was the GOP Chairperson Sue Everhart, making this claim about the supposed dangers of allowing same-sex marriage. She really seems to be mining a gender essentialist point of view that is alien to roughly everyone that doesn’t live in a Christian right bubble.

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First of all, this is classic right wing projection. Under the system Everhart prefers, where gays are forced to live in the closet, gay men and lesbians often do marry opposite sex partners in order to hide their identities. Usually they marry other straight people and just live in the closet, but it wasn’t completely unknown for them to marry an actual friend who was in on it for the benefits. Either way, that was a far more common problem than the problem Everhart is imagining here. By the way, there’s nothing to stop a man and woman who aren’t in love from marrying for the benefits. It’s not like your insurance company comes by the house and makes sure that you know what each other’s genitals look like before they’ll approve the benefits. Maybe they do things differently in Georgia, but as far as I know, straight couples aren’t required to consummate their marriage in front of an audience. I guess Everhart just doesn’t believe men and women can be friends, or else that possibility would have occurred to her.

Speaking of straight people, it’s worth remembering that these conservatives aren’t just out to get the gays. This is about trying to end all social acceptance and support for non-procreative sex. Cardinal Dolan was blunt about that on ABC News.

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In other words, they want to stop the perception that they’re anti-gay by expanding the attacks to include anyone who has sex for any other reason but procreation. To which I say, uh, you’re already doing a pretty great job of that with the attacks on abortion and contraception rights. Frankly, if Cardinal Dolan thinks he’s going to convince anyone he loves them by demanding that they embrace a life of infrequent, unsatisfying sex that is only performed for procreation, well, good luck to him. Most of us grasp pretty quickly that kind of begrudging attitude is a reflection of hate.

In case that wasn’t clear, Dave Agema, a former Republican politician and RNC committeeman posted a letter on Facebook that called gay people “filthy” and then spewed a bunch of made-up stats, which Cenk Uygur read out loud on “The Young Turks”.

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Yep, the stats he used not only sound made up, but they directly contradict each other. FYI, there is no such thing as “gay bowel syndrome”. This is something straight out of Christian right urban legend, right up there with claiming that abortions give you breast cancer and rock records have Satanic messages encoded on them. But really, what I don’t understand is how any of this is supposed to be an argument against gay marriage. If you don’t like gay people sleeping around, why do you think that getting married would facilitate that? From what I understand, it’s supposed to do the opposite, since most married couples are or claim they are monogamous. But this isn’t about logic or rationality, but about pure, irrational hate. And it’s getting uglier.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, depends on what you’re calling power edition. Rush Limbaugh was on a rant about the Affordable Care Act, and he is deeply skeptical that a lady like Kathleen Sebelius knows how to run a major government program.

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First, the main objection that conservatives have offered is Obamacare takes away an employer’s control over your health care and gives it to you. The problem is that they want you to be treated like serfs instead of people who deserve fair compensation for your labor. Second of all, the claim that no one has any idea how to run such a thing is simply false. The U.S. was the last industrial nation on Earth to implement a universal health care program. We’ve had, oh, every other advanced democracy on Earth around to teach us how to do it. Thanks, guys, by the way. But this notion that health care reform was simply made up and has nothing to do with the real world is silly. Oh, by the way, more than half of the reforms have already been put into play, and despite conservative warnings, the world has not ended.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte