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“Current Law, But Not Settled Law”: Rubio Not Done Fighting Against Marriage Equality

For a presidential candidate who’s often preoccupied with his youth and reputation for looking forward, Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) policy vision can be strikingly regressive.

Marriage equality, for example, is already the law of the land in the United States, but Right Wing Watch flagged Rubio’s new interview with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, where the senator made clear he’s not done fighting against equal marriage rights, calling the status quo “current law,” but “not settled law.”

“If you live in a society where the government creates an avenue and a way for you to peacefully change the law, then you’re called on to participate in that process to try to change it – not ignoring it, but trying to change the law.

 “And that’s what we’re endeavoring to do here. I continue to believe that marriage law should be between one man and one woman.”

For most of the country, there’s a realization that there is no credible proposal to turn back the clock. Rubio didn’t elaborate on how, exactly, he wants to “change the law” to prevent same-sex couples from getting married, and if he tried, he’d likely fail.

But the key here is understanding just how far the Florida senator is willing to go with the culture war. For Rubio, it’s still not too late to bring back discriminatory marriage laws.

And then, of course, there are reproductive rights, where Rubio still intends to be the most far-right major-party presidential nominee of the modern era.

As regular readers know, Rubio’s position on abortion is that it must be outlawed – without exception. If a woman is impregnated by a rapist, for example, Rubio believes the government has the authority to force that woman to take that pregnancy to term, whether she wants to or not.

This came up in a recent interview with the New Yorker.

On several issues, Rubio has taken a position that suits the faithful in the primaries but is guaranteed to repel voters in a general election. His most obvious vulnerability is on abortion. In the first Republican debate, Rubio said that his opposition to abortion extends to cases of rape or incest – a position at odds with that of more than three-quarters of Americans. [Democratic strategist David] Axelrod told me, “No exceptions is a position so extreme that no Republican candidate has ever held it. Presidential races are defined by moments. Maybe he will try to amend that position, but in the age of video it’s hard to extinguish a declarative statement like that.”

When I asked Rubio about it, he said, somewhat confusingly, “Look, I personally believe that all life is worthy of protection, and therefore I don’t ever require, nor have I ever advocated, that I won’t support a law unless it has exceptions.” After some more twists and turns, I sensed that we had reached the line he plans to use in a general election: “My goal is to save as many lives as possible, and I’ll support anything that does that. Even if it has exceptions.”

This led to some confusion, prompting Rubio to clarify matters in an interview yesterday with the Associated Press. “I, as president, will sign a bill that has exceptions,” he said. “I’ve supported bills that have exceptions.” The senator added, “I do not personally require a bill to have exceptions – other than life of the mother – in order for me to support it. But I will sign a bill as president that has exceptions.”

Here’s the bottom line: if a Republican Congress sends President Rubio an anti-abortion bill, he’ll sign it, even if it includes some exceptions he personally disagrees with. When it comes to abortion restrictions, he’ll take what he can get and then fight for more.

But as far as what Rubio actually, personally wants U.S. policy to be, he’s opposed to exceptions, even in cases of rape and incest – a position further to the right than any Republican nominee since Roe was decided more than 40 years ago.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 25, 2015

November 27, 2015 Posted by | Marco Rubio, Marriage Equality, Reproductive Rights | , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Reproductive Rights Are Political”: Yes, Planned Parenthood Has To Be In The Politics Business

On Sunday’s “Meet the Press” Chuck Todd, a journalist I respect, asked an interesting, but odd, question of Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood: “Should you be in the politics business?”

This is a circular argument: Planned Parenthood has been in the politics business since it opened its doors. Female sexuality, and the control thereof, has always been inherently political. The term “sexual revolution” is not an abstract concept – the introduction of the pill 50 years ago was what marked the full entry of American women into the workforce. The pill is credited with a third of the increase in wages for American women.

There is nothing more physically and economically determinative to a woman than deciding if or when to have children, a decision to which Planned Parenthood has made an enormous contribution for millions of us.

This is why social conservatives continue to attack not just abortion, but contraception – if you’re against abortion and contraception, it’s not just about abortion. And it’s why Planned Parenthood has become a talisman to the right, a symbol of what they fear most – women controlling their own reproductive destiny. Two-thirds of the 1 million abortions in this country are done by private practitioners other than Planned Parenthood, but there are no mass protests and bloody fetus pictures outside their offices.

Why? Because Ruth Bader Ginsburg is right – the right’s War on Women is fundamentally a war on poor women. Two-thirds of women who have an abortion already have a child, and the overwhelming reason cited for the procedure is that they can’t afford another one. There’s a reason the original Roe plaintiff, Norma McCorvey, was working class. Rich women could get abortions before Roe, and they will if the Supreme Court overturns it next spring – which is possible, since the court has taken up the Texas abortion restrictions.

Historically, fights over female autonomy are hardly unique to either our country or even our millennia. Sex and power for women have always been intertwined and an object of fascination, fear and political manipulation for men.

Anne Boleyn was executed by Henry VIII for accusations of infidelity – and not producing a son, as were many royal wives, never mind that the man determines the sex of the child. Her daughter Elizabeth I, arguably Britain’s greatest monarch, was the Virgin Queen, precisely because once she married and surrendered her sexuality to a man it diminished her imperium.

So what it comes down to, again, is that this is about power. House Republicans are creating a Planned Parenthood investigative “committee” to weaken political opponents and catalyze their base, the same way they set up the Benghazi “committee” to weaken Hillary Clinton and fire up conservatives.

And in the states, right-wing Republicans are attacking Planned Parenthood with every political means at their disposal, including electing retrograde state legislatures that in turn enact horrific, humiliating laws designed to slut-shame women out of having abortions and restrict access to contraception.

What angers conservatives about Planned Parenthood isn’t just what they do – contraception, reproductive health care and, yes, abortions. It’s how the organization does it – without judgment or shame – and the result it produces: women in control of their own bodies, both physically and politically.

 

By: Laura K. Chapin, U. S. News and World Report, October 6, 2015

October 8, 2015 Posted by | Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood, Reproductive Rights, War On Women | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Erick Erickson’s Abortion Barbie Game”: Coat Hangers, Pink Shoes, Blond Hair, And Skirt Suits

Who, or what, is Abortion Barbie? That is the name that Erick Erickson, of redstate.com, wants to attach to Wendy Davis, the Texas State Senator who filibustered a bill that restricted abortion rights in her state. The bill ultimately passed, and will have the effect of putting many women in Texas hundreds of miles away from safe, legal clinics where they can end a pregnancy. “It sums her up perfectly,” Erickson said:

All the nation knows about Wendy Davis is that she is ignorant of the horrors of Kermit Gosnell, wears pink shoes, and filibustered legislation to save the innocent in Texas.

And he tweeted:

It is a bit embarrassing that Abortion Barbie doesn’t even have her facts straight on Kermit Gosnell considering abortion is her issue.

Kermit Gosnell was the doctor convicted on murder charges after running an unsafe, illegal operation. Davis had answered a question about him and, after saying that she didn’t know much about the case, had gotten a fact about it wrong. (It had to do with whether Gosnell’s clinic was licensed as an ambulatory-surgical center.) Davis, who has a degree from Harvard Law School, rightly pointed out its disconnect from the Texas bill. She wears pink shoes, and has blond hair, and dresses in skirt suits; Erickson illustrates his blog post with a photo of Davis in a well-tailored pink one. If you are a woman who supports abortion rights and do not fit Erickson’s idea of what such a woman should look like—dreary, presumably—he will find a caricature for you: a silly girl who wore the wrong outfit, the one a man didn’t want to see her in. And then, when people get angry, you can say that your original stereotype was correct: feminists are humorless, girls don’t get jokes.

For Erickson, the subject of abortion rights, and the way that women act as if their life and health depend on it, is a rich mine for humor. The Barbie tweet was actually an encore. After the Texas bill passed, he tweeted, “Dear liberals, go bookmark this site now,” and linked to a store that sold coat hangers. Coat hangers were what some women used in the pre-Roe era, when they were desperate to end a pregnancy, risking their lives. For that reason, they have become a symbol; some of Davis’s supporters carried them. Erickson, in a non-apology “to the kid killing caucus” for the hanger tweet, wrote, “I was mocking you and your outrageous hyperbole and lies.” Women’s deaths are hyperbole only if you don’t value their lives. As for “lies,” even Erickson acknowledges that women died from illegal abortions back then; he says it was just a few dozen a year. And what’s that to him?

Erickson is a provocateur, but he is also a reasonably influential voice within the Republican Party. He makes connections and delivers rhetorical relief. (Confused by Wendy Davis? Here’s how to put her down.) His jokes are not funny both because they are not funny and because the Republican Party is, at the moment, very serious about dismantling abortion rights in state legislatures across the country. Some reduce the amount of time in which a woman is permitted to have an abortion (to twenty weeks after conception, in the case of the Texas bill) or find ways to make it hard for clinics to stay open. (Jeffrey Toobin wrote about this recently.)

Still, what Erickson appears to find most ridiculous is that women are so earnest and think that their stories and dilemmas are relevant to this debate. He ultimately deleted the hanger tweet, in deference, he said, to the hanger supplier. On Wednesday, after an angry response to his Barbie talk, he tweeted, “Think of the accessories Abortion Barbie has with her pink sneakers.”

Erickson’s other response is that if liberals get to call Sarah Palin Caribou Barbie (Maureen Dowd did), then they can’t complain. This assumes a parallel between “Caribou” and “Abortion,” which is hard to see. Abortion, despite what Erickson may think, is not a guise or a fashion, a destination like Malibu or an aspiration like astronaut. If it is a shorthand for anything, it is for what can be the hardest moment in an woman’s life. Perhaps he is used to treating all of this as a political game, making paper airplanes out of court decisions, but reproductive rights are not childish things.

“Barbie” is an insult when it is used as a stand-in for “stupid”—for an unserious mannequin, a professional impostor. Perhaps that’s what has to end, because all of this is very unfair to Barbie (whom I’ve defended before). Barbie was introduced in 1959, when women’s choices, and hers, were far more constrained. In 1961, she did get to be Registered Nurse Barbie. Surgeon Barbie was introduced in 1973—the same year the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade. In Erickson’s original equation, ignorance plus pink shoes equalled Barbie. But she is only dumb if you think that in taking on profession after profession she was borrowing someone else’s clothes. And Barbie would never do that.

 

By: Amy Davidson, The New Yorker, August 7, 2015

August 9, 2015 Posted by | Abortion Barbie, Erick Erickson, Reproductive Rights | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Divorced From Reality And Science”: The GOP’s “Mad Max” Fantasy”; Lindsey Graham Fires The Latest Shot In The War On Women

It turns out Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) campaign for president isn’t just about damning the torpedoes and declaring war on any nation that dares to give America the side-eye. This week, Graham transparently pandered to the far-right base by reminding everyone that he also happens to be a total ghoul on the issue of reproductive rights.

On Thursday, Graham introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate titled “The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” A version of the bill was passed in the House already and, along the same lines, Graham’s version would ban all abortions with few exceptions after the 20th week of pregnancy. The twisted reasoning goes like this: After 20 weeks, fetuses can feel pain. That’s what they say. And by “they,” I don’t mean actual doctors. We’ll circle back to that presently.

Said Graham, “Why do we want to let this happen five months into the pregnancy? I am dying for that debate. I’m going to quite frankly insist that we have that debate.”

Once again, Graham and the modern Republican Party have entirely divorced themselves from both reality and science. Before we dig into the science behind why Graham and the anti-choice base are horrendously wrong, the reality is that states where there are few if any anti-choice laws, abortion rates are dropping precipitously.

Author and activist Kimberley Johnson brought to our attention a new study conducted by the AP, showing that pro-choice states such as New York, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, Rhode Island and Connecticut showed steep declines in abortions by as much as 20 to 30 percent since 2010. Elsewhere, states like Louisiana and Michigan showed increases in abortions as women seeking access to abortion services in neighboring anti-choice states, including Texas, fled the restrictive laws in their home states.

It turns out, states that restrict abortion access showed slower declines in the abortion rate than pro-choice states, chiefly due to the fact that pro-choice states tend to also provide greater access to contraception. Naturally, this makes perfect sense given how affordable, readily-available contraception not only prevents unplanned pregnancies but also prevents abortions. Incongruously, however, anti-choice Republicans and activists have zero compulsion to help make contraception more available. Indeed, the exact opposite is true. This is transparently regressive and misogynistic, given how it effectively blocks women from either having or, indeed, preventing an abortion. Graham and the others are cynically cutting off all access to reproductive services, and it’s not difficult to see this as anything other than a legislative war on women.

Back to Lindsey Graham. The newly-minted presidential candidate is not only a leading conspirator in the crusade to slowly roll back reproductive rights; he also opposes the Affordable Care Act and its mandate for free access to contraception, including morning-after birth control (which merely prevents conception, not implantation, by the way). So, what’s the deal with this arbitrary-sounding 20 week threshold? Again, Graham and the others are trying to tell us that after 20 weeks, fetuses feel pain. It turns out the Journal of the American Medical Association contradict’s Graham’s clueless take on fetal biology.

Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester.

So, not only is the evidence for fetal pain sketchy in the first place, but the journal of record states quite clearly that fetuses really can’t feel pain until the third trimester — 24 weeks or later. Not 20. That said, since when do scientific experts in the field serve as any kind of bulwark against Republicans who legislate against women, the LGBT community or, come to think of it, the climate by eschewing scientific consensus?

Furthermore:

“As an ob-gyn, I know firsthand the reasons why women may need abortion care after 20 weeks, and I have seen the pain that many of these women are in when confronting these decisions,” said Dr. Mark DeFrancesco, president of ACOG, in a statement. “Yet this ban would force physicians to deny services, even to women who have made the difficult decision to end pregnancies for reasons including fetal anomalies diagnosed later in pregnancy or other unexpected obstetric outcomes. This is simply cruel.”

Obviously, the nightmarish pain that women experience while caught in the vortex of this decision is irrelevant. For Graham and his party, it’s all about shepherding unplanned pregnancies to birth, after which these babies will be entirely ignored by the GOP, which has no interest in pushing for affordable natal and post-natal healthcare; no interest in paid maternity leave; no interest in expanding aid to homeless women and children; no interest in equality for girls or gay children or transgender children; and definitely no interest in expanding education. As Barney Frank famously said (paraphrasing): Republicans believe life begins at conception and ends at birth.

As the window for legal access to reproductive services grows narrower, state-by-state, the effort to return women to an era of subjugation continues to expand and metastasize as conservative politicians return purview over intimate, personal, female decisions to those who believe women have to be controlled. It’s a real world manifestation of the “Mad Max: Fury Road” hellscape — an “Immortan Joe” post-apocalyptic utopia in which women are kept as legal property and exploited for breast milk and birthing more War Babies. But with Graham and the broader anti-choice movement, it’s cleverly packaged and sold as messianic compassion for the unborn, without any regard for women or, for that matter, the birthed children the anti-choice movement claims to be rescuing.

 

By: Bob Cesca, Salon, June 13, 2014

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Lindsey Graham, Reproductive Rights, War On Women, Women's Health | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Rand Paul Vs. Rand Paul On Personhood”: Every Week, Rand Paul Is Selling A New Version Of Rand Paul

There’s one “culture war” issue that seems to cause anxiety for many Republican politicians. Opposing reproductive rights in general and wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade is usually pretty easy for GOP candidates, but support for “personhood” has become something of a third rail. Given recent developments, it’s understandable – personhood measures wouldn’t just ban all abortions, they’d also block common forms of birth control.

And Republicans clearly realize that opposing birth control in the 21st century, when the party is already struggling with the gender gap, isn’t a credible option.

As a result, we see far-right Senate hopefuls like Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and other ardent personhood supporters suddenly scramble to distance themselves from their previous position. Each of them assume the key to joining the Senate is backing away from an extremist policy like this one.

But let’s not forget that there’s already an enthusiastic personhood supporter in the Senate.  Ryan Lizza reports on one of Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) most controversial proposals:

In recent Profile of Senator Rand Paul, Dr. John Downing, the Senator’s friend and former medical partner, expressed his worries about Paul’s sponsorship of the Life at Conception Act, also known as the personhood law. The bill would ban abortion and grant the unborn all the legal protections of the Fourteenth Amendment, beginning at “the moment of fertilization.”

To Downing, who is an ardent Paul supporter, this seemed like political madness. Downing said that he believed Paul’s personhood law would make some common forms of birth control illegal, and thus doom Paul’s Presidential hopes. “He’s going to lose half or more of women immediately once they find out what that would do to birth control,” Downing told me.

Part of the Kentucky Republican’s pitch is that he can be a national GOP leader by appealing to young people with his message of limited government. On the other hand, Rand Paul introduced – and has fought aggressively in support of – federal legislation that treats a fertilized egg as a full-fledged human being with constitutional rights, which in turn would prohibit any form of birth control (IUDs, emergency contraception, etc.) that prevents that egg from implanting in a uterine wall.

One assumes many younger voters, most notably women, might have a problem with that, especially coming from a candidate whose raison d’etre is ostensibly opposition to “big government.”

All of which brings us to last week, when Rand Paul seemed to hedge on his own legislative commitment.

American Bridge posted this item last Tuesday.

Paul was asked today in South Carolina about his position on the morning-after pill, and he affirmed his support for it. Which is all good and well, except that he brags about introducing personhood legislation that could make it illegal. He’s consistently been one of the most extreme politicians in Washington when it comes to women’s issues. Just check out this video that he recently scrubbed from his YouTube account.

Now Rand Paul thinks he can lie his way to the middle and twist himself into a candidate with broad appeal. It seems every week, you wake up and Rand Paul is selling a new version of Rand Paul.

Lizza’s report, which noted that religious-right activists were not at all pleased with the senator’s position, added, “Paul, having spent the last few years convincing pro-life activists that he firmly believes that the state should protect fertilized eggs the same way it protects all Americans, now simply shrugs at pro-life concerns over emergency contraception.”

All of which is made worse when one considers how many other issues Rand Paul has changed his mind about, shrugging at other positions he also used to hold dear.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 9, 2014

October 10, 2014 Posted by | Personhood, Rand Paul, Reproductive Rights | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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