The Many, Many States Attacking Abortion Rights


How Ohio’s new budgetary strategies affect you

North Carolina banning most abortion

Ohio massively restricts abortion and contraception access

Gov. Scott Walker signs abortion bill in Wisconsin

Martha MacCallum is utterly dishonest

Ohio anti-choicer gives up the game

Sanctity of sperm

Creeping paganism

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be covering all the other states besides Texas that are dialing up the restrictions on abortion. Well, and Texas, just not as much. A policy analyst from Guttmacher will be on to help!

Enjoy this snippet of a comedy video suggesting future laws that Gov. John Kasich and Ohio Republicans can attach as budget amendments to shame and control women who want to have abortions.

  • ohio *

Yep, pretty much.

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This summer a single theme is beginning to emerge: Anti-choicers using backdoor, hidden, and sleazy ways to pass anti-choice legislation they can’t get passed using normal legislative strategies. The focus on this podcast has largely been on Texas for the past couple of weeks, because pro-choicers have mounted such an incredible defense of reproductive rights there. But Rick Perry’s strategy of trying to find ways outside of the normal legislative system to pass an anti-abortion bill is unfortunately the story of the summer in many other states. This is particularly true in states that are swing states, where conservatives in power are eager to cram through a bunch of anti-abortion laws before they get booted by voters next election season and lose their chance. North Carolina anti-choicers had an interesting, and by interesting I mean sleazy, strategy.

  • states 1 *

Yes, sharia law. They wrote a bill to ban the non-existent threat of Muslim beliefs being written into law, and then turned around and wrote fundamentalist Christian beliefs into it. Because they are impervious to irony.  No big surprise, either, that they passed this so close to the July 4th holiday. Anti-choicers are giving up on the claim that they are speaking for a silent majority and instead are just going right ahead with looking for every way they an smuggle abortion restrictions in with minimal media attention. Do it during a special session. Do it during a holiday week when newspapers aren’t being read and TV news shows aren’t being watched. Attach it to other bills at the last minute. Anything to minimize the amount of attention they’re getting for this. It wasn’t just North Carolina, either. Steve Kornacki explained how Gov. John Kasich of Ohio managed to slowly build up his approval ratings by avoiding big controversies until right before the holiday break, when he helped smuggle an anti-abortion law into the state budget.

  • states 2 *

Sneaking out, scheduling it around a holiday, attaching it to the budget as an amendment, refusing to speak to reporters? This is not the behavior of someone who thinks he’s performing the public will. These are the actions of someone who thinks this might be the last chance he gets to get the uteruses of Ohio under state control, and wants to get that in there before his opportunities run out. Which makes sense. Ohio is a swing state, and it very well could be the last time for a long time that anti-choice Republicans have enough power to get this done. Which is the same story in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker pulled a similar stunt.

  • states 3 *

Guess what day he did it? Friday, July 5th, basically during a four-day weekend when most reporters both on the national and local level had the day off and even those who were working were playing to a dramatically smaller audience than they usually get. These aren’t the actions of someone who is assured that he can make the case for these restrictions in a public forum. No, these are the actions of someone who knows the voters will disapprove and is trying to do everything he can to hide what he’s up to. Once is interesting, twice still could be written off as a coincidence, three is a trend, but this makes it four, so I can safely say that this is a strategy. The anti-choice movement has embraced their lack of popularity and now is just going to try to sneak things in rather than try to persuade the public to see things their way.

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insert interview

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The anti-choice movement’s strategies go back to the days of segregation and voter suppression, where the right wing honed the art of saying one thing while doing another, usually while being completely obvious about what you were doing. In fact, at this point it’s reflexive. No one buys the claim that all these new restrictions on abortion clinics are actually there to make abortion safer for patients, and yet conservatives blithely lie and say that’s what it’s about as if we’re not onto their game. On Fox News, for instance, commentators actually tried to pretend the new abortion restrictions won’t really have that big an impact at all.

  • conservatives 1 *

Boy, talk about just reflexive lying. No one is saying that this is going to somehow bring an end to all gynecological care or make it impossible to get. No, that would be the attacks on Planned Parenthood’s contraception and gynecological funding. When we say that 37 out of 42 clinics would have to stop offering abortion, that’s what we mean: They would have to stop offering abortion. Some no doubt will continue on to offer other services and some are more abortion-focused, but the point is that abortion itself won’t be available. Martha MacCallum is just trying to confuse the issue just because the more confusion there is about the issue, the less we’re talking about the reality here, which is the forced-birth agenda of Rick Perry and the Texas Republicans. Again, this is a strategy honed in the days of segregation. Pass a literacy test and then front like, “Don’t you want voters to be literate?”, when in fact it’s actually a test that’s only being given selectively to black voters and it is literally impossible, even for Nobel Prize-winning geniuses, to understand it—or it may have questions that don’t actually have good answers. Pretend that no one is really attacking women’s right to safe health care, but ignore the fact that safe, legal abortion is an important part of health care.

At least one Ohio anti-choice activist, Phil Burress, admitted that a similar law passed in Ohio is not actually about women’s health and safety, but about making abortion less safe and more dangerous by getting legitimate doctors out of the business. Tony Perkins, the host, realized Burress was straying away from the official lie and tried to get him back to the lie.

  • conservatives 2 *

It’s a good health practice, according to Tony Perkins, to require a doctor to have a transfer agreement with a hospital but then also, at the same time, ban them from having it. That, of course, is asinine, and Buress was so pleased with himself for getting the state to pass a regulation that pretty much can’t be adhered to by design, he accidentally gave away the game. He even admitted that part of the strategy is using the fear of anti-choice terrorism and pressure tactics as leverage against hospitals.

The good news is that this anti-choice claim that this is about women’s health is so asinine, so transparent, so obviously a lie that mainstream media sources are beginning to exhibit the skepticism they have, in the past, been somewhat afraid to exhibit. I particularly enjoyed Thomas Roberts calling out anti-choicers for their real motivations, which have nothing to do with women’s health and certainly not fetal life.

  • conservatives 3 *

Roberts is right: This is about the sanctity of sperm. Not even men, per se, because men themselves are frequently pro-choice and certainly pro-contraception. This is about a view of women as so lowly, so undeserving of rights that mindless sperm that are programmed to try to find an egg are considered more important than women. A sperm’s quote-unquote “right” to have its way is more important than a woman’s life, a woman’s freedom, a woman’s hopes and dreams—and therefore it’s also more important than a man who might care about her. Some abstract notion of male power and female submission has overwhelmed the lived experiences of real men and women. Roberts was stabbing at that inartfully, but he definitely has the correct read on the situation.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, pagans, why not edition. Liz Trotta, a Fox News commentator who can always be assured of spewing nonsensical gibberish whose only point is her immense loathing for all other women, dropped this jewel recently.

  • paganism *

Yep, it seems she is arguing that the Obama administration is trying to destroy freedom of religion in order to shove paganism on everyone through, uh, contraception. She doesn’t specify which pagan religion it is, however. Are we talking ancient Greece or Rome? The various Germanic gods like Thor and Freya? Perhaps she means modern day pagans like Wiccans. Regardless, I think that if Obama really is trying to turn us all pagan, it’s going to take a lot more than giving women access to birth control to get us there.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on Twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • John G.

    I have a terrible feeling that this attack on women all over the country has more to do with distracting people than attacking women. Yes, they hate women, and are happy to keep them down, but the people who are behind this, the ones who hold the purse strings hate nothing so much as they love money and power.

    I fear that they are trying to drag us back to the 19th century, because we’ll be forced to respond, and our eyes will move away from other targets. While we’re fighting just to keep the rights we have, they’re over in the corner quietly rigging everything in their favor.

    • Kit Kimberly

      I think that’s true at least in part about abortion, voting rights and other social issues– they’re distractions to keep us from seeing what they’re doing to the economy.

      One of the problems is that so many on the left/progressive Democrats are buying into this bait and switch– they actually think the religious right and anti-choicers are controlling the agenda (so do the religious right and anti-choicers), but in fact it’s the military-industrial the-rich-get-richer complex that’s actually in charge.