Sexists Against Obamacare, and Texas Clinics Canceling Appointments


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Transcript

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be talking to an activist who is working to stop rape on campus. Obamacare critics are trying to use sexism to demonize the new law, and Texas clinics started canceling women’s abortion appointments after the Fifth Circuit tells the state they can enforce a draconian new regulation.

Sketch comedians Key & Peele had a hilarious and surprisingly informative sketch about what it takes to please the ladies in bed.

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TV sketch comedy is often stuck in a sexist, tedious rut, but online, there’s some really funny stuff going on.

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As noted briefly in last week’s Wisdom of Wingnuts, conservatives are trying to tie knee-jerk misogyny to Obamacare again. Before, it was all about trying to convince people, without a shred of evidence, that the Affordable Care Act somehow means your tax dollars will be paying for abortion. Then they added fussing and complaining about the requirement that insurance plans cover contraception. Now the new talking point is to claim that women are somehow taking more than their fair share of insurance, as if going to the doctor was some kind of treat that women are depriving men of having by hogging all the seats in the waiting room. Basically, what happened is twofold. One, the ACA bans gender rating outright. Gender rating was a practice of charging women more than men for insurance, and that’s gone now. Two, the ACA requires a slew of essential services to be covered, most of which are for all people, but some of which are more specific for those who can or are able to give birth, such as maternity coverage and coverage for breastfeeding support.

What the right has decided to do with this information is imply to their audience that women are stealing health care from men. I quoted John Stossel last week when he basically accused women of being hypochondriacs, but the context of the quote is, if anything, more aggravating.

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Because that’s how insurance works? Everyone pays into a pool and we take as we need. What’s irritating is they’re sitting there pretending like this whole notion of “insurance” was just invented. Here’s reality: Prior to the ACA, insurance plans covered a whole host of services, whether you needed them or not. What John Stossel is trying to do here is basically use misogyny to try to advance an extremely radical, right-wing idea, which is that medicine should be paid on a cash-only basis. If the argument is that your “plan” should only cover what you use, then the very idea of insurance falls apart and you’re left arguing that people should only pay for what they are using. It’s just this argument, spiced with misogyny so you don’t know how radical it is.

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That’s Sue Lowden, who lost the Republican primary to run for Senate in Nevada because she was caught basically saying that people should pay for health care in cash, or chickens if that’s what you’ve got. The fact is that this argument would mean medicine would be a luxury only the very wealthy could afford, and people see that immediately. And yet, if you put a “ladies are stealing health care!” spin on it, a lot of people suddenly are interested in hearing about why we shouldn’t have a general risk pool that everyone pays into and everyone takes from. Which is how this idiotic argument made its way into Rep. Renee Ellmers mouth while questioning Secretary Sebelius.

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She clearly thought that was a killer argument and was so proud of herself, but it’s basically the chicken to the doctor argument. This is, I repeat, how insurance works. You pay into a pool. People take out of that pool. I will never need most of what my insurance covers. That’s true of most people. Thank goodness! But if you make it about women, all of a sudden the brain fries out, the misogyny narratives are activated, and people aren’t thinking straight. Women are stealing! Women are bad! Never mind the bizarre notion that men have nothing to do with pregnancy and have no responsibility for it.

Needless to say, Rush Limbaugh is always on hand to make the implications of these grossly misogynist arguments more obvious.

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It’s actually not true that these things raise prices. Birth control pills and wellness plans specifically are there to lower costs through prevention. But notice how he argues that people who pay for insurance are not “paying for it themselves”. You know, they also pay premiums. So we’re back to the bring a chicken to the doctor argument. The only way the argument he’s making makes sense is if you believe that medicine should be paid for in cash and that insurance companies, with their risk pools and generalized coverage, are wrong because some people have more needs than others. He’s just hoping you don’t see that, because he’s stigmatizing women and claiming our health care needs don’t count as health care, presumably because lady parts are unholy or whatever. But take the misogyny away, and what you have is an argument against the very existence of a system where everyone pays in and people draw out as needed. Which is all insurance is and all it ever was.

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insert interview

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Last week, I reported on some of the turbulent problems in Texas with regards to its new abortion regulations. First, District Judge Lee Yeakel decided to pass an injunction against one part of the law, which requires doctors to have hospital admitting privileges, on the grounds that it would close down something like a third of abortion providers in Texas. There was much celebrating, but then it came quickly to an end on Thursday night.

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To be clear, not all those clinics are shutting down. Many of the Planned Parenthoods in particular will stay open, because abortion is not a primary source of income and they don’t need it to stay in business. But they won’t be able to provide abortion. Other clinics, however, are primarily abortion clinics. They provide a very important service by focusing on abortion care, since abortion is a common outpatient procedure, and their loss is a big deal for women’s health.

This was also something of a surprise. As conservative as the Fifth Circuit is, it’s also true that there is no way to be intellectually honest and argue that the law isn’t a major obstacle for women seeking abortion. But basically, the court just blew past concerns of arguing in good faith and intellectual honesty. Because of that, clinics had to start calling women and canceling their appointments. Amy Hagstrom Miller runs five clinics in Texas, and she explained how terrible it is to Rachel Maddow.

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This really drives home how serious these abortion restrictions are. It’s one thing to intellectually understand that abortion is being chipped away, but I think a lot of people don’t realize that this really is starting to mean that you can’t get an abortion if you need one. Now women are actually getting phone calls. They thought their abortions were going to happen. They were counting on those abortions. And now they are screwed. Marni Evans agreed to talk to the Texas Tribune about her situation.

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She did get another appointment at a clinic in Austin that does have a doctor with admitting privileges. However, as she noted, she’s so scared that this will fall through that she booked a flight to Seattle as back-up. The scariest part is she, as she herself noted, is in a better situation than a lot of women who had appointments canceled, because she has some back-up options. For women in rural areas, such as McAllen, Texas, there’s not much hope. Amy Hagstrom Miller explained.

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The clinics, along with the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU, have appealed to the Supreme Court to reinstate the injunction and let the clinics start providing abortions again while this is hashed out in court. Justice Scalia gave the state a week to reply, so hopefully this week we’ll be getting some good news.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, “Miley Cyrus is a Satanist” edition. Right Wing Watch got this amazing clip of Good Fight Ministries minister Joe Schimmel losing his mind over Miley Cyrus, who ushered in the end of civilization by being sexy like approximately 99.5 percent of pop stars before her.

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I like how breathless he gets. He’s a bit turned on by this woman he claims is demonic and later even said was having “sex with some Satanic figure.” The titillation/condemnation cycle of right wingers who want to use women to arouse themselves and then punish women for it continues.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • John H

    Regarding insurance coverage of maternity: men *have* delivered babies – transmen. Of course, that doesn’t actually matter becasue the whole point of insurance – as Amanda points out and many others have – is pooled risk, meaning EVERYONE is paying for services they’ll never use. Females pay for coverage for the male urogenital tract, the young pay for conditions that overwhelmingly affect the elderly, etc.

    • Arekushieru

      Exactly, so why not have males pay for a condition that is associated with what is commonly referred to as a FEMALE organ, the uterus?