Reproductive Rights History, Live Action’s Dishonesty, and Pat Robertson’s Sexism


Kevin Cramer blames school shootings on legalized abortion

Saletan on what Live Action leaves on the cutting room floor

Pat Robertson’s advice

Right wing talk show host wants to shoot Hillary Clinton in the vagina

On this episode of Reality Cast, Rickie Sollinger will be on to talk about her new book explaining reproductive rights. Will Saletan shows us the parts of Live Action’s video you didn’t take the hours to watch and Pat Robertson reminds us that the religious right is just plain sexist.

Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota made one of the weirder anti-choice arguments I’ve heard in awhile.

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Of course, the overall murder rate has gone down in that time. If legalized abortion caused one, then it caused the other, right?

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Complete and total credit to Will Saletan of Slate for digging into the bizarre, dishonest videos made by Live Action that tried to frame various clinics that offer pre-viability abortions of choice as places that perform “infanticide”. The hope was that Live Action could catch another Gosnell, that is, someone who was performing illegal late term abortions and then killing viable babies born alive. They did not, of course, find anyone like that. They didn’t even find evidence of what anti-choicers always claim, which is that clinics are trying to sell unsure women on abortions. In fact, quite the opposite. Will Saletan combed through the footage and found the stuff that Live Action edited out in this highlight video, assured by the knowledge that no one would actually bother to watch it. What he discovered was compassionate providers doing a thankless job out of deep compassion.

Basically, a woman who was 23 weeks pregnant went into clinics to inquire about getting a legal abortion before viability. Most abortions at this stage are done for medically necessary reasons, and the clinic’s response to having a woman ask for one done for choice was definitely not something Live Action included in the edit. But Saletan did.

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Yep, as Saletan notes, the first clinic worker they talk to immediately tries to discourage her from rushing into an abortion decision and emphasizes how an abortion isn’t a decision to take lightly. That, of course, went straight to the cutting room floor. Lila Rose continues to claim in public that she believes abortion clinics are trying to sell abortions, even to women who don’t want them, but she has herself collected evidence that shows the opposite is true. So, we can no longer give her the benefit of the doubt about being ignorant and have to assume she is lying.

The anti-choicer then tries asking her 15 different ways if fetuses come out alive and are left to die, and sadly for her, the clinic worker says no over and over again.

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She tries the same routine on the doctor. He also makes it clear that babies are not born alive in clinics and then left to die. But she is incredibly insistent that these workers tell her what they would do in this impossible instance of a baby being born alive and viable. On the cutting room floor, then, went clinic workers saying they would resuscitate and, on the very slim chance of a viable baby being born, they would suggest adoption. Cutting room floor, of course, with all that.

In the Bronx, they didn’t have much more luck in trying to get someone to fit the anti-choice stereotype of providers pulling a Gosnell and tricking women into later term abortions.

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Heh, basically she’s trying to play an anti-choice stereotype of the dumb bimbo who waits five months and then thinks, meh, I changed my mind. Why anti-choicers think women so irresponsible, even if they really did exist, are ready to be mothers is beyond me, by the way. What she found was that counselor doesn’t actually get these patients, because they exist in the minds of anti-choicers but not in the real world. Instead, the counselor’s advice made it clear that when they see women coming in this late in their pregnancies, stuff is really going wrong for them and they need compassion and help and understanding. Oops. But, as Saletan noted, easy enough to leave it on the cutting room floor.

That’s just a sampling of the professionalism, nuance, and compassion Live Action actually captured at abortion clinics, and then went on to deny and distort. Watch Saletan’s entire video to see some of the rest.

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insert interview

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One of the most fascinating things about the modern religious right is the two-faced way they have of promoting their agenda. If they’re in the political sphere, claims about sexual and reproductive health policy are usually carefully constructed to avoid discussion about gender roles or sexuality. Everything is about fetal life, their weird definition of religious liberty that results in employers being able to take yours away, or fallacious claims that contraception is the same thing as abortion. But in the intra-religious right media, when they’re doing things like giving advice or discussing ethics, all of a sudden the belief that women are inferior to men, women are a servant class for men, and women’s sexuality needs to be tightly constrained while men are just uncontrollable beasts comes roaring out. All this became evident recently on “The 700 Club”, Pat Robertson’s clearing ground for the past few decades for everything religious right. A viewer wrote in with a question.

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Robertson, who was instrumental in kicking off the anti-choice movement and generally has been a stalwart believer that women should be punished in every way possible had a completely different take when it came to male cheating. Women who have sex, in his world, should not even have the basic right to say no to an unwanted pregnancy—even if they weren’t cheating, even if they are married—because female sexuality is that evil. But men shouldn’t even have to endure their wife’s anger, no matter how justified.

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Love how he just assumes that women are dependent on men, as if we’re not allowed to have jobs. While women and gays, in his world, are expected to contain their sexual desires, no matter how wholesome and non-harmful and loving they are, the same is not expected of straight men. When straight men act out, even in ways that are legitimately harmful, the fault is always someone else’s. Usually a woman’s, such as his wife, who drove him to cheat with her poor housekeeping.

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This echoes a previous statement made by Robertson, where male cheating was blamed not on men making poor choices, but women’s clothing.

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This time out, not only was the male choice to cheat blamed on women’s poor housekeeping, but also pornography.

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So there you have it: Men cannot be blamed for cheating, because it’s always about women’s looks or housekeeping, or the culture at large. But women’s sexual choices are extremely narrow. Not only are we not to cheat, of course, but we’re not to have consensual premarital sex, or even deliberately non-procreative sex within marriage. Just your weekly reminder that this isn’t and never was about religious liberty, fetal life, or anything like that. Just rigid gender roles and the continuation of religious patriarchy.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, violent threats stage of right wing nuttery edition. Pete Santilli has raised his profile in right wing circles lately by bringing on popular pro-gun folks, and so Right Wing Watch has put him on their list of folks to watch. And he recently said this:

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The gross misogyny that’s always been lurking in the ranks of gun fanaticism has really gotten worse since a gun nut shot up a school and killed only women and children in the process.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on Twitter: @amandamarcotte