Is Secular Anti-Choice a Thing? And How Big a Hypocrite Is Rep. Vance McAllister?


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The kiss

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Transcript

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be talking to two activists trying to raise the word that secular anti-choicers aren’t as rational and evidence-based as they pretend to be. Another cheating congressman and another reminder of what hypocrites these conservative men in office are. Also, more on the impending doom in Texas.

I thought y’all would appreciate this amazing 1969 Ad Council ad trying to remind viewers that STIs, which were then called VD, were something that anyone could have.

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The way that anti-choicers and the conservative movement carries on, you’d think that the idea that most people are sexually active, and therefore need sexual health care, is a brand new one. But it’s nice to be reminded that public health officials understood this to be true even 45 years ago.

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Meet Rep. Vance McAllister, a Republican from Louisiana. Vance McAllister is a godly man of God and he really wants you to know how much he disapproves of your sex life. He is aggressively anti-choice, routinely supporting bills to restrict women’s access to abortion. He also made a big show out of aligning himself with the guys from “Duck Dynasty,” who have been in the headlines quite a bit lately spewing homophobic garbage and hiding behind the Bible when called out on it. Indeed, an endorsement from Willie Robertson from “Duck Dynasty” appears to have gone a long way towards pushing McAllister into the lead over his Tea Party-aligned opponent.

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Shortly after this interview, the Robertson family made headlines by saying vicious and cruel things about gay people, at what point McAllister responded by bringing Willie Robertson to the State of the Union, in case there was any doubt that he disagreed with them. All this anti-sex, anti-gay stuff if because of God and God and God and boy, Vance McAllister wants you to know how godly he is and how much God loves him and how God loves him so much that he helped McAllister defeat his equally conservative opponent in the primary in Louisiana.

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I suppose if you haven’t already heard what’s coming, you can guess.

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Look, Vance McAllister is a human being and human beings, being human beings, make mistakes. That’s why none of this is surprising, except apparently to the husband of the staffer he was kissing. The problem here is that McAllister doesn’t want to extend that level of understanding to you. Worse, he wants to punish you for having sexual desires and behaviors that don’t hurt anyone, by stripping women of reproductive rights and stripping gay people of other basic rights like marriage. Your sex life may be above board and honorable. You may be the kind of person who has never cheated on anyone and would never consider it. You may be kind and generous to your sex partners and communicate openly and never would consider betraying a friend. But even though you’re so much more moral and upstanding than Vance McAllister in your sexual dealings, if you’re gay or female, too bad. You don’t deserve your basic human rights.

You won’t be surprised, therefore, to find out that the woman he was kissing, Melissa Hixon Peacock, was fired from her job, even as McAllister himself has signaled that he has no intention of stepping down. That, at least, is consistent with the women are meant to suffer but men get to be forgiven mentality that is normal with the Christian right. You won’t be surprised, I’m sure by the content of his public statement.

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Awwwwww, he wants privacy for himself and his family! I bet he does! Of course, he doesn’t want privacy for you and your family. McAllister was a co-sponsor on the misleadingly named No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The bill not only would codify the Hyde Amendment, but it’s basically an intrusive attack on your right to privacy, putting all these federal restrictions on what kind of insurance coverage you can get when it comes to abortion. McAllister’s snoot is all up in your vagina, trying to micromanage the care you can get, and especially to make you jump through a bunch of unnecessary hoops if you need to terminate a pregnancy. He also wants to invade your privacy when it comes to contraception, backing the Health Care Conscience Rights Act, which would allow your boss to take away your insurance coverage for contraception. McAllister works for the taxpayers, but he wants us to give him his privacy. But if you work for Hobby Lobby, no privacy for you! He wants your boss to have a vote in your contraception choices.

McAllister tossed out a “sorry” and asked for forgiveness, and he’s not leaving office and will probably be re-elected because this kind of hypocrisy is as much a fault of the voters as the politicians. But of course, that doesn’t mean that this is a victimless situation.

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He gets to keep his job, but she gets fired. That’s right in line with conservative sexual mores, where they believe abortion should be banned and contraception restricted, but there’s no discussion whatsoever of controlling or punishing straight male sexuality. Note, too, the pain the husband of the cheating wife is feeling. Unlike abortion, contraception, and homosexuality, adultery creates actual victims and hurts real people. And somehow adultery is easier for the right to forgive than all these victimless behaviors that don’t involve them at all.

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Insert interview

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Karen Finney on MSNBC had Heather Busby from Texas NARAL on her show to talk about what’s happening in the state, in terms of access to reproductive health care disappearing so fast it’s dizzying. Really, if you live in rural Texas, things are looking very dire right now. There just aren’t any abortion clinics and family planning clinics are also disappearing quietly as well.

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In addition, she counted over 70 family planning clinics that have shuttered due to budget cuts and other messing around with the budget. So you can’t prevent pregnancy if you’re low income and living in isolated areas. But you can’t terminate either. Sounds like mandatory childbirth to me, as punishment for being poor no less. But this round of clinic closures is only the beginning, and that’s why people should be really afraid. The law is coming in two waves, probably in part so that access to abortion disappears in bits and pieces and so it’s gone before most Texans even realize there’s an emergency. Round one was a regulation requiring that doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals, which most can’t get because in order to get admitting privileges, you have to admit patients regularly. Abortion providers don’t do that because abortion is a safe outpatient procedure. Round two is requiring clinics to be up to ambulatory surgical center standards, which is not only not medically necessary but also means that you have to have a full surgery room in some cases just to give women a pill to swallow. Just so you can see how ridiculous this is. That regulation is going to nearly decimate abortion access in Texas.

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Six clinics in the entire state. In 2011, there were 73,000 women in the state who needed an abortion. That demand will likely stay level or even go up, because fewer women have access to contraception, due to the loss of family planning clinics. That means, even if all these women who need abortions somehow manage to get to a city with a clinic to do it, each clinic will need to provide 12,000 abortions a piece to keep up. That means that, even if these clinics were open 365 days a year, each clinic would have to 33 abortions a day to keep up with demand. That is, needless to say, an impossible task and no one could even hope to start to accomplish it.

However, Planned Parenthood is looking to provide some relief.

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By no means would one extra clinic solve the problem, but it will mean that many more women will be able to get abortions, so that will help. But I have concerns beyond just the inability of the few remaining clinics to handle the massive amount of demand there is for abortion, as bad as that immediate problem is. As I noted last week, the Fifth Circuit Court upheld the law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges. Using the same dishonest logic, I expect they’ll do the same when the law requiring clinics to be ambulatory surgical centers is litigated. Within a couple of years, we are almost surely going to be seeing this in front of the Supreme Court, especially since other circuit courts have correctly struck down similar laws in other states for being unconstitutional. It may be that we’re facing down a Supreme Court that will decide that while abortion is technically legal, states have broad rights to pass laws restricting access regardless of whether or not they’re medically necessary or make safe abortion provision impossible to do. If that happens, even if Texas doesn’t immediately pass a nuisance law to shut down the last six or seven clinics, a bunch of other states are going to immediately enact the same laws, shutting down most or all of their clinics. So this is beyond the 73,000 women in Texas who need abortions every year, but will swiftly start to affect hundreds of thousands of women every year.

It’s a good thing Planned Parenthood is building this clinic. But sometimes I feel like reproductive health organizations are trying to outrun a tsunami.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, women are just worth less edition. Last week we had Equal Pay Day, a day set every year to mark how much longer into the current year women had to work to make what a man made in the previous year. The right spent most of the day trying to make excuses for why women are paid less. Rush Limbaugh, as usual, was the most flamboyant.

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Limbaugh calls a duly-elected president, one who was elected in a landslide, honestly, a “regime.” So of course he thinks he can dismiss concerns about pay inequity as “old hat.” Yes, feminists are still on about it. That’s because we’ve been talking about it for 40 years and it’s still a problem. We’ll probably have to talk about it for 40 more before it’s fixed.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on Twitter: @amandamarcotte