The Ongoing Plan B Debacle, and Conservatives React to Obama’s Planned Parenthood Speech


Andrea Tantaros on 15-year-olds: Too young for contraception, but babies are a “blessing”

Consensual sex between teenagers is not illegal

More Plan B lies

Rush Limbaugh floats anti-choice conspiracy theory

No, I don’t think we should celebrate teenage pregnancy

Rich Lowry lies his head off

Fox News equates wanting universal health and safety standards with endorsing rape and murder

On this episode of Reality Cast, a lawyer from the Center for Reproductive Rights will explain the latest developments in the fight to make Plan B available over the counter without age restrictions. Anti-choicers react to the new Plan B regulations, and unsurprisingly, they freak out over President Obama’s talk at Planned Parenthood.

Jackson Katz had a TED Talk recently about the importance of men embracing feminism, and not just leaving it up to women. A sample:

 

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It’s kind of ridiculous, but it’s totally true: We often don’t think of men as having a “gender”. But of course they do, and realizing that is the first step to realizing how much sexism is as much about reinforcing male gender roles as reinforcing women’s.

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As I’m sure you all know, the Obama administration pulled a double whammy of weirdness in response to a federal judge’s 30 day order requiring them to make Plan B emergency contraception over-the-counter without any ID necessary. First, the FDA announced that they were loosening up the current restrictions, lowering the age to 15 and putting it out on the shelves instead of behind the pharmacy counter. Then they announced that they’re appealing the judge’s decision, angering pro-choicers who want them to just make it available without any age restrictions already. Pro-choice anger made perfect sense: The new restrictions don’t make the drug very easy to get, and not just for girls under 15 who may need it, but also 15-year-olds who don’t have passports or birth certificates on hand, that is nearly all of them. But anti-choicers were still upset because while a bunch of women are still unfairly cut off, the number of women who will be able to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or contraception failure did go up. And preventing unwanted pregnancy reliably brings out the ugliest side of conservatives. Andrea Tantaros reacted by saying that while 15 is too young for contraception, one should be happy to have a baby at that age, because babies are a blessing.

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She couldn’t be clearer: A baby at 15 is a blessing and one should be excited to have the chance. Contraception at 15 is evil. I dunno. I think most people would disagree. I’ll note Tantaros is pretending that Obama is a hypocrite but she’s the one who waxes poetic about how teenagers should be open to babies because they’re a blessing, while she remains unmarried and childless at over twice the age she paints as old enough for babies, if not old enough for contraception.

While Tantaros was trying to spin forced pregnancy as a “blessing”, the rest of the folks at Fox News couldn’t be more clear: They think teenagers having consensual sex with each other is a crime, and that the sentence should be forced impregnation.

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First of all, having sex at 14 or 15 is not, in fact, a crime. An older person who has sex with a younger person may be committing a crime, but the young person did not break the law even in those cases. Which are irrelevant here, anyway, because we’re not talking about a policy that would prevent statutory rape, though it might prevent victims of it from preventing pregnancy. But even if it were illegal for teenagers to have sex, as Brad Blakeman clearly wishes it were, forcible pregnancy as the punishment strikes me as cruel and unusual punishment by our constitution. But let’s be clear: It is not illegal for a teenager to have consensual sex with a peer, nor is a teenager who is raped in violation of the law, though his or her rapist is.

Blakeman was far from the only pundit to deliberately distort the concept of statutory rape in order to justify forcing pregnancy on unwilling teenagers. Eric Bolling and Greg Gutfeld of Fox News also feigned concern for rape victims in order to justify forcing pregnancy on them.

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As a rape survivor myself, I can safely say that that shared belief at Fox News that the best thing that can happen is to be forcibly impregnated by your rapist is wrong, wrong, wrong. If you actually care about rape victims at all, you want them to be able to move on from their rapes, something that forcible pregnancy makes harder to do. Anyway, the claim that withholding Plan B from rape victims will prevent rape makes as much sense as saying that closing down emergency rooms will prevent shootings. Rapists don’t actually care about that crap. Some of them even get off on the idea of forcing pregnancy on their victims. It makes me ill seeing these anti-choice nuts use rape as a pretext to force pregnancy on the unwilling, since the whole point of rape, like anti-choice policies, is to take a woman’s control of her body away from her.

I’ll add that contrary to their implications here, there is no danger of Plan B being used as a substitute for regular contraception or doctor visits. Research shows that girls with access don’t change their contraception habits. It’s a $50 pill you use as back-up, and no one mistakes it for anything else.

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insert interview

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The very mild loosening of still-too-restrictive rules on Plan B is only part of what caused conservatives to hit the anti-sex, anti-woman fainting couch hard recently. As I noted briefly on last week’s podcast, President Obama spoke in front of Planned Parenthood, and now conservatives are hopping mad because they feel the President they hate should play along with their attempts to demonize the organization and reproductive health care in general. But for some reason, he doesn’t seem to believe that they can tell him what to do, and they’re so mad. So, so mad. It caused another round of conservative media meltdown. Rush Limbaugh floated a popular theory that the fringe anti-choicers have been kicking around for awhile, which is that contraception somehow causes abortion.

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Even though it’s blatantly obvious that contraception prevents abortion, anti-choicers have to believe it causes it or they can’t sustain their entire conspiracy theory claiming Planned Parenthood is somehow an industry, despite being a non-profit, that tricks women into abortion. The reality, of course, is that Planned Parenthood is a women’s health organization that works to make women healthier, and their opposition hates that because they think that if you have sex, you don’t deserve good health or control over your body.

At least one Fox News guest, Nina Easton, finally stopped spinning elaborate conspiracy theories and just came right out and said she wanted teenagers to get pregnant and have babies.

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She provides exactly zero evidence for the contention that the main reason young women reject giving up babies for adoption is that there’s some social stigma to it. There’s a Hollywood movie, Juno, celebrating it, in fact, but none celebrating abortion. I have an alternate theory: Perhaps teenage girls don’t want to be treated like free baby factories for strangers independent of social stigma. You could throw a million parties for it, and still I suspect most young women would simply rather not go through the wrenching process of growing a baby, going through immense pain to deliver it, and then handing it off so they can spend the rest of their lives grieving the child they gave up. So much so that even in the 50s and 60s when they forced pregnant teenagers into maternity homes and forced them to give up their babies, the abortion rate was about what it is now. Women don’t really want to go through pregnancy and childbirth to benefit strangers at their own expense. Nor should they be shamed for that, because it’s perfectly normal and rational not to want to do that. Nothing wrong with the few women out there who have done that and feel right about it, but it’s not surprising that they’re few and far between.

Rich Lowry wrote a despicably dishonest piece at Politico where he came right out and said that abortion is pretty much all that Planned Parenthood does, and where he equated the ordinary, everyday legal first trimester abortions they provide on a regular basis with the illegal infanticides committed by Kermit Gosnell. He was then invited to expand on those lies on “Meet The Press”, replete with David Gregory quoting his piece.

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When they invite outrageous liars on “Meet The Press”, they do them the courtesy of not reading their most egregious lies to them, so they can pretend they aren’t as dishonest as they are. So, Gregory didn’t make Lowry answer for claiming outright that abortion is Planned Parenthood’s “central purpose”, allowing Lowry to nod along with a reminder that 97 percent of what Planned Parenthood does is not abortion, even though he openly tried to trick his audience at Politico into thinking that’s pretty much all they do. Like Limbaugh, Lowry refuses to admit what’s obvious, which is that Planned Parenthood’s central purpose is actually giving women the ability to control their own health, even if they’re low income. Abortion is part of that, but 97% of their services are other things. No one is trying to hide that. By claiming that liberals mean abortion when we say “women’s health”, Lowry is deliberately conflating contraception and STI treatment with abortion, for the sole purpose of justifying the elimination of all women’s health services. Because yes, they’re out to get your birth control. It’s a shame that “Meet The Press” doesn’t require its guest to at least be non-liars before they get invited on.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, repeat a lie enough and maybe magic makes it true edition. Pro-choicers have been providing coverage and condemning Kermit Gosnell since he was first exposed. But anti-choicers need to believe otherwise, so they just lie about it. On Fox News, therefore, you get this:

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This accusation was leveled at Senator Blumenthal because he made the suggestion that any legislation strengthening health and safety standards at abortion clinics should be applied to all clinics. I guess wanting to make sure all health care is clean and safe is like celebrating murder now. It makes no sense, but it’s what they need to believe, so they’ll believe it.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte