Congressional Abortion Ban, State Level Attacks, and Reproductive Coercion


Meeting women’s unmet contraception needs

Rep. Trent Franks attempts to ban abortion after 20 weeks

Trent Franks is bad at comprehending

Chaos in Wisconsin

Ohio’s new waiting period

Texas attempts to ban most abortion clinics

On this episode of Reality Cast, Rebecca Levenson from Futures Without Violence will be on to talk about reproductive coercion. House Republicans move to pass a pointless bill banning abortions after 20 weeks, and state level attacks on reproductive rights intensify.

Population Action International put out a video making the case for more support for meeting unmet contraception needs around the world.

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Unlike many other uses of our money, this is a pretty clear-cut investment. Unwanted pregnancy is expensive. Preventing it will eventually save a ton of money.

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Ours is a country in crisis. Unemployment hovers around 8%, our police state apparatus was just revealed in all its horribleness to the public, and Wall St. Journal writers cannot believe they let New York City get bike share. But despite all this, congressional Republicans think the most important use of their time is passing a bill to ban abortions at 20 weeks even though there is no chance on God’s green earth that it will get past either the Senate or the President to become law.

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All of this is clearly just about creating an opportunity for anti-choicers to grandstand about post-20 week abortions and stereotype women who have them as dumb sluts who are too stupid to get abortions sooner. Never mind that only 1.5% of abortions are after the 20th week. Never mind that most women who get them are in bad, stressful situations and need our compassion, not our derision. This is all an effort to try to conflate these later abortions with all abortion, and work steadily towards the goal of eliminating legal abortion entirely from the United States. But as usual with these things, Trent Franks got a little overly excited about the opportunity to bash women and stigmatize abortion and ended up saying a bunch of fool things.

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I’m guessing most things are beyond Trent Franks comprehension. He’s claiming that a woman must be evil because she, for instance, aborts after discovering that her fetus will be born without a brain and will only live for a few painful hours. Or that a woman is clearly evil if she gets 20 weeks along only to have her husband abandon her and her children to poverty, and she aborts rather than bring another child into this already perilous situation. The utter lack of empathy for women and the readiness to believe women are evil at the drop of a hat is really astounding. But just to make it even grosser, Franks revealed that he, like Todd Akin and countless other anti-choice men before him, is a rape philosopher.

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Naturally, this led to the usual rounds of trying to parse exactly how misogynist it was to dismiss the 30,000 plus women a year who get pregnant by rape as “rare”, but I’m not interested in all that. Rape-related pregnancies tend to be a much bigger chunk of the post-20-week group we’re talking about than any other group of abortions, because post-20-week abortions are generally a more hard up group. They’re likely to be younger, and a lot of them were raped by friends or family members and were in denial about their pregnancies until they were that late. But it’s also frustrating to me to see people focus on the rape thing as the “proof” needed to determine if the person pushing this abortion ban is a misogynist. Yo, he wants to outlaw all abortion and this is just a stalking horse for that. That’s all the proof you need of his misogyny.

Now the Republicans have put Marsha Blackburn up front on this legislative attempt, hoping that by putting a woman up there and coaching her to be nicer to rape victims, they can avoid the charge of a war on women. That’s where this leads, to them trying to clean up the rape language but leaving in the actual misogynist policy of attacking abortion access. We need to talk about that, because making an allowance for rape victims while still beating on women for having pregnancies that went wrong or for being too poor to get an abortion sooner is still misogyny.

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insert interview

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Things continue to be so bad on the state level that it’s hard to keep up with it all. State level attacks on reproductive rights got a ton of attention last year, in large part because it was an election year. This year, the coverage has died off somewhat, but it really shouldn’t, because things are getting ugly and real inroads are being made against a woman’s right to choose. And unlike the go-nowhere bill in Congress, state level attacks on reproductive rights have a real chance of doing serious damage to women’s health and well-being.

In Wisconsin, progressives were already all fired up because of attacks from the state government on the right to collective bargaining, and now anti-choicers are trying to cram through a mandatory ultrasound law and people are not having it. As usual, anti-choicers know that the more the debate drags out and the more attention they get, the worse they look, so the Senate president tried to shut down debate and push a vote through. And this is what happened.

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Wisconsin defunded Planned Parenthood, so the lack of contraception access will almost surely raise their abortion rate, just as they’re trying to make abortion harder to get. No wonder people were mad.

In Ohio, things are just as bad, and may even get worse.

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They managed to get a condescending mansplainer from an Ohio anti-choice group to explain that this is just meant to keep all those women who randomly wander in looking for coffee and decide to get an abortion instead to stop being so hasty.

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What kind of money is this guy rolling in that he thinks women go in and drop $500 on an abortion on a whim that they spent no time thinking about? That’s what gets me, is the contradiction here. On one hand, they claim that abortion providers are money-grubbing greed monsters, but then on the other hand, they portray patients as cavalier bubbleheads who treat abortion like it’s buying a candy bar. Abortion is expensive. Antis pretend to think it’s expensive because of greed, but it’s expensive because outpatient surgery has a lot of overhead. But either way, the fact that it’s expensive alone prevents it from being a cavalier decision. This is about delaying it in hopes that women run out of sick days or the ability to travel to get to the clinic and instead are forced to give birth.

Texas is another state where they stripped Planned Parenthood of a bunch of funding and already have a high unintended pregnancy rate. And of course, that means another round of attacks on abortion rights. Now they’re trying to pass an omnibus bill, which Amy Hagstrom Miller explained on MSNBC.

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The bill is one that requires hospital admitting privileges for doctors, even though abortion has a hospitalization rate that’s similar to getting a cavity drilled. It also requires clinics to meet the requirements for ambulatory surgical centers, even though abortion doesn’t require making incisions. It’s a move that will shut down all but five clinics in the great big state of Texas. And it’s being passed through this dishonest method. Which is how anti-choicers work these days, because once you’ve embraced misogyny, more ordinary concerns about basic honesty go flying out the window.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, but fetuses can have penises edition! I don’t even know what to say about congressman Mike Burgess from Texas using this as “evidence” that we need to ban abortions at 20 weeks.

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The internal life of anti-choicers is always fascinating when they share tidbits with us. It’s not just that he’s making more of this phenomenon than there is, nor that he’s ignoring the actual reasons women abort at 15 or 16 weeks. It’s also his deep assurance that masturbation is a male-only phenomenon. That’s what really made me laugh about this.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on Twitter: @amandamarcotte