Evangelicals & Adoption, The Gosnell Misinformation Campaign, And Virginia’s New TRAP Regs


Why don’t victims leave?

MSNBC  in 2011

NPR in 2011

Reality Cast in 2011

Virginia’s new TRAP laws

Maddow show on Virgnia regulations

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be talking to Kathryn Joyce about her new book on evangelicals and adoption. Anti-choicers start a disinformation campaign around the case of Kermit Gosnell and Virginia passes new regulations to shut down safe, legal clinics.

Leslie Morgan Steiner gave a really good, 16 minute TED Talk on why victims of domestic violence struggle to leave. She explained the usual reason, such as being in denial and being afraid of being murdered, but here are some points you may not have heard before.

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Something to think about when you see all those so-called “men’s rights activists” angling to make it harder for women to move, to maintain custody, or to demanding the right to sue their ex-wives over and over and over again in an attempt to reduce child support. Many of them aren’t seeking fairness or justice, but are looking for excuses to continue controlling a woman who left them because of their violence.

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Last weekend, there was a coordinated campaign on the right to float a very serious accusation and needless to say untrue accusation: That liberals and feminists in the media had, either deliberately or because of some sort of “liberal bias”, chosen to “cover up” the crimes of Kermit Gosnell of Philadelphia. Gosnell, as I reported on this show two years ago when he was arrested, is accused of 8 counts of murder, one woman and 7 infants that were born in his clinic and murdered by Gosnell and his staff. Gosnell was a seedy, underground abortion provider who got away with operating a filthy clinic that didn’t meet any kind of basic medical standards and who exploited women who were poor and didn’t have access to decent abortion care. He is universally condemned, but anti-choicers would like you to believe that’s not the case. Which is why they are accusing feminists of “covering it up” by not covering it in the media.

Warning: This clip from Fox News is egregiously dishonest, even by their standards, and might make your blood pressure rise from the sheer nerve of these people.

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He also claimed that pro-choice groups and spokespeople have been completely silent about Gosnell, except for the National Abortion Federation. Needless to say, the lies told here were easy enough to suss out. As for the claim that MSNBC didn’t cover the case, it took me just a few seconds to find this clip from 2011 from MSNBC.

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The reason he didn’t list the print sources is because it’s an even easier lie to pick out, as pretty much every major national paper and news website covered the arrests and the charges. He also neglects to mention radio, probably because NPR covered the story extensively, such as this piece from 2011.

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As for the claim that pro-choicer organizations and spokespeople are refusing to comment on this story? That is also, unsurprisingly, a giant lie. Here is yours truly in 2011 on this very podcast.

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So why are they lying about this? It’s pretty simple, really: By claiming that we’re hiding something, they can imply that we have something to hide. They can therefore insinuate that pro-choicers are somehow complicit in Gosnell’s crimes without coming right out and saying it, opening themselves up to accusations of slander and libel and perhaps even getting sued. So, instead the vague charge of “media bias” is floated, and what makes it so great is that it’s classic moving goal posts. You point out that you covered it, and they can say, “Not enough.” It’s a terrible, evil thing to do.

The timing of this conservative campaign tells you the whole story. The trial has been going on for a few weeks now, but only now are they started to complain about the lack of coverage. It’s easy enough to figure out what they’re doing. They know that once he’s convicted, there’s going to be an avalanche of coverage from mainstream and liberal media, which will make it hard for them to sell the B.S. claim that someone is “hiding” something. So they use a natural lull in the coverage to claim that the media isn’t doing enough, and then take credit for the eventual coverage that they know was coming anyway. It’s sick and devious, but I’ve seen this strategy before—twice now I’ve had conservatives start to flood me on Twitter claiming I was “ignoring” a story that had literally just come out and that I was, in reality, already writing about. The idea is to hit the target with a complaint that they’re “covering up” a story before they can reasonably be expected to cover it. That’s the kind of sleaze that we’re dealing with here.

So why are they working the refs so hard on this? Simple: Anti-choicers know that they bear responsibility for what happened, and not just because one of Gosnell’s victims said she avoided Planned Parenthood for fear of protesters. Gosnell was able to get so many customers because anti-choice policies such as the Hyde Amendment made it impossible for women to afford safe, legal abortion. They know that if abortion is banned, the number of men doing what Gosnell was doing will rise exponentially. So they’re trying to control the narrative by making it about overtly dishonest claims of “media bias” so that the real discussion of how this happened is overshadowed. They really, really don’t want to talk about the real causes of this, and so will tell any lie it takes to avoid that conversation.

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insert interview

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  • Virginia 1 *

That was Rep. Paul Ryan, speaking to the slanderously named anti-choice group the Susan B. Anthony List. His claim that you can somehow just wish abortion away by restricting and discouraging it was echoed by North Dakota state representative Bette Grande, who defended her bill banning abortions at 6 weeks by claiming women don’t know there’s a “beating heart” in there, and insinuating they won’t want an abortion if they do know. It seems anti-choicers are getting more ridiculous lately with their claims that women wouldn’t have abortions if feminists didn’t goad them into it. But as the Kermit Gosnell trial shows, the opposite is true: Even if women have no opportunity for a safe, legal abortion, they will be so determined to end unwanted pregnancies that they’ll subject themselves to scary, dangerous conditions. Anti-choicers are ramping up the lies about what it means to end legal abortion because in many places, they’re getting closer to it—and they need to be able to hand wave and distract people from the inevitable results.

Virginia is one of those places.

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It’s worth noting that none of these new rules will make patients one bit safer. A useful point of comparison is with Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has a ton of TRAP laws, i.e. targeted regulations of abortion providers, designed to make it harder for abortion clinics to work. There are mandatory waiting periods, restrictions on who can refer an abortion patient, and what NARAL describes as a “a uniquely imposed licensure scheme” not required of other clinics that provide similar medical interventions. None of these extra-special requirements had any relevance to the Gosnell clinic, since he was shut down for violating common laws applicable to all medical providers, as well as laws against murder. However, these laws reduced the number of legitimate abortion providers in the state from 50 to 13. With such a drastic reduction in access, an illegal provider like Gosnell was sure to see a lot more patients. Virginia is now creating a similar situation of shutting down all the legitimate clinics. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, if the vacuum that creates allows butchers like Gosnell to start flourishing.

Charniele Herring, a delegate from Virginia, went on the Maddow show to explain exactly what’s going on here.

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Ken Cuccinelli’s hand in all this tells you everything you need to know. This is not about safety or women’s wellbeing, and I honestly don’t think anyone is fooled by claims otherwise. This is about the opposite, which is driving abortion out of safe, legal clinics and onto a black market where it’s dangerous, illegal, and, as happened at Gosnell’s clinic, may even be fatal. None of this is a surprise to anti-choicers. They may claim that they’re going to wipe out abortion, but they know that this is just about wiping out safe, legal abortion. By and large, I suspect the folks behind this just don’t care if some women get injured or killed seeking illegal abortion. Why they consider themselves worthy to dictate health care policy with such an anti-health attitude is beyond me.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, cheerleading violence against women edition. Congressman Steve Stockman has a new bumper sticker out.

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There’s not a lot of interpretative wiggle room here. This is a fantasy about punishing women who have abortions by killing them, and distastefully it’s being blamed on “babies”, even though babies can’t fire guns, and certain the brainless embryos that are removed during your typical abortion couldn’t even want to. It’s a threat, and since one in three women in America will have an abortion, it’s one that women who have had abortions will definitely see when they see cars with these bumper stickers.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte