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“Is This The Return Of Back Alley Abortions?”: The “Republican War On Women” Is A Fact, One That Voters Are Certainly Aware Of

Sometimes, women have sex. Sometimes, that sex is unprotected. Sometimes, women get pregnant. And sometimes, they chose to terminate their pregnancies by having abortions. In fact, one in three American women will have an abortion by the age of 45. These are all basic and undeniable facts of life, facts just like evolution and climate change and the economic benefits of raising the minimum wage that both universal truth and voter opinion plainly endorse. And then there’s the Republican Party, determined to face these facts in the same way it faces its inevitable substantive and demographic irrelevance — in other words, not at all.

According to a recent poll conducted by NARAL Pro-Choice America, almost 7 in 10 Americans “believe having an abortion is morally acceptable and should be legal” or are “personally against abortion” but “don’t believe government should prevent a woman from making that decision for herself.” Included in that number are fully 53 percent of Republicans who say they don’t support government limits on abortion.

The Republican Party has a major — and growing — problem not only wooing women voters but also male voters who support women’s reproductive freedom, let alone economic equality. And yet confronted with facts, including that Republicans in Texas are forcing the closure of the majority of the state’s abortion clinics, what does Reince Priebus, the head of the Republican Party, do? Distract from the facts.

On Meet The Press this past Sunday, Chuck Todd asked Priebus about last week’s ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court to allow Texas’ restrictive anti-abortion law to take immediate effect. Here’s their exchange via RH Reality Check’s Jodi Jacobson, who has characterized Priebus’ response as a downright lie:

TODD: A court upheld a new law in Texas. One of the things about the Republican Party is you don’t like a lot of regulation on businesses, except if the business is [an] abortion clinic. Eighty percent of these abortion clinics in Texas are going to be basically out of business because of this new law. Too much regulation, is that fair? Why regulate on the abortion issue now until maybe the law is—and maybe wait until you win a fight in the Supreme Court where you outlaw abortion altogether. Why restrict a business now in the state of Texas?

REINCE PRIEBUS: Well, you obviously have to talk to someone in Texas. But the fact of the matter is that we believe that any woman that’s faced with an unplanned pregnancy deserves compassion, respect, counseling, whatever it is that we can offer to be—

CHUCK TODD: But 80 percent of those clinics are gone. So that they have to drive 200 or 300 miles for that compassion?

REINCE PRIEBUS: No, look, listen, Chuck. The issue for us is only one thing. And that’s whether you ought to use taxpayer money to fund abortion. That’s the one issue that I think separates this conversation that we’re having.

Wait a second! The Texas law has absolutely nothing to do with taxpayer dollars — after all, Texas banned public support for reproductive health a long time ago. No, the Texas law merely places extremely onerous and unnecessary requirements on abortion providers for the sole purpose of forcing those providers to stop performing abortions. Which, by the way, is working — as a result of the Fifth Circuit ruling, seven or eight additional clinics in Texas will close, forcing women in many parts of the state to drive 300 miles or more to exercise their constitutional right to an abortion. The Texas policy, after all, is the manifestation of GOP-led attacks on abortion across the country, which have gone to such an extreme that 87 percent of counties in America do not have abortion providers and medical training on abortion care has been so undermined that, as The Daily Beast reported, a new online course is trying to fill the gap.

Maybe Priebus was confused. Republicans also oppose government funding for contraception — or even, in the case of Obamacare, government requiring private insurers to cover contraception — despite the obvious fact that affordable access to contraception lowers the rate of unintended pregnancies and thus the need for abortions. Then again, I give Priebus more credit than that — and assume that his words weren’t accidentally misspoken but deliberately misleading.

Again and again, as I have written, it seems to boil down to Republicans being offended that women — especially poor women — even want to have sex. How dare they! Soon they’ll be wanting equal pay. “You could argue that money is more important for men,” Republican congressional candidate Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin once said, explaining his opposition to equal pay laws. Birth control is for women who “cannot control their libido,” said former Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

These attitudes, along with backwards policy stances, paint a picture of a GOP not only out of touch with women’s reproductive and economic freedom but downright opposed to it. Is it any wonder that women, especially young liberated women, are fleeing from a party that is so profoundly and anachronistically condescending to more than half of the population?

Rank-and-file conservatives by and large do not share these extreme anti-equality, anti-abortion, anti-women attitudes. But such views are becoming dangerously prevalent among Republican leaders and candidates — and being translated into policy at a record pace, with results so frightening that Republican leaders realize they can’t even be honest with voters about the effects. In other words, the “Republican War on Women” isn’t a politically convenient construction of the Democrats, it’s a fact — one that voters are certainly aware of.


By: Sally Kohn, The Daily Beast, October 7, 2014

October 8, 2014 Posted by | Reince Priebus, Reproductive Choice, Republicans | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Demanding The Right To Oppress”: Is Forced Religious Belief Coming To An Employer Near You?

The Supreme Court just can’t seem to quit the Affordable Care Act.

On Tuesday, it announced it would hear challenges to the law’s “contraception mandate,” which requires employers that provide health insurance to include contraceptives in their plans, including birth control pills and emergency contraception. At stake is whether for-profit companies can be exempted from the mandate because of their owner’s religious beliefs.

This controversy centers on a lawsuit by Hobby Lobby, an arts & crafts chain whose owners—David Green and his family—are devout Christians who believe life begins at conception and that using certain kinds of birth control violates their religious beliefs.

Obamacare contains an exemption for churches and other religious nonprofits, but the Greens want it extended to for-profit companies like their own, who are otherwise required to include FDA-approved contraceptives in their health insurance plans. They claim that the requirement would “substantially burden” their ability to practice their religion.

This gets to the core of the lawsuit. Hobby Lobby isn’t just fighting for an exemption from the contraception mandate, it’s arguing that, as a business, it shares in its owners religious beliefs and has its rights as a corporate person protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 law mandating that strict scrutiny be used when determining if the free exercise clause of the First Amendment has been violated. By requiring companies to cover women’s contraception, Hobby Lobby argues, the federal government is violating their religious rights. In short, the Greens are asking the court to classify for-profit corporations as having religious consciences.

It should be said that the Greens aren’t Catholics; they’re evangelical Christians who don’t share Catholicism’s doctrinal opposition to birth control. Condoms and diaphragms aren’t an issue. Instead, the Greens—who see fertilized eggs as persons—object to Plan B and other forms of emergency contraception, which they believe prevent embryo implantation in a woman’s womb, and are tantamount to abortion.

But medical science is clear: emergency contraception is not an abortifacient. As explained in an amicus brief by Physicians for Reproductive Health, pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine lining, a process that occurs within five to nine days of sexual intercourse, if the egg is fertilized. “Emergency contraception,” notes the organization, “refers to a drug or device that is used after intercourse, but before pregnancy, to prevent pregnancy from occurring.” Abortifacients, by contrast, are used to terminate an existing pregnancy.

According to the brief, the two FDA-approved forms of emergency contraception—Plan B and “ella”—work by preventing, disrupting, or prohibiting ovulation, which stops fertilization altogether. In the doses approved for contraceptive use, neither terminates a pregnancy.

This is important. For Catholic groups, who oppose all contraception regardless of circumstance, the science is irrelevant. The mechanism of birth control is less important than the theological commitment to all pregnancies. But evangelicals—like the Greens—are in a different boat. Their objection depends on the science of pregnancy. If what’s true—emergency contraception doesn’t cause abortion—contradicts their beliefs, then what basis do they have for the objection? It’s fine if the Greens oppose abortion out of their sincere religious convictions—they can believe whatever they want—but that doesn’t give them license to redefine abortion (or contraception) to fit those beliefs.

Indeed, allowing them the privilege opens the door to a whole host of actions that would burden the liberty—religious or otherwise—of employees or customers. In a world where corporations have First Amendment protections for their religious beliefs, can they win exemptions for any law they disagree with? If Congress passes the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, can Hobby Lobby decline to follow its dictates—and say, refuse to hire to gays and lesbians—out of its sincere religious beliefs? Could it refuse to hire blacks out of a belief that they are cursed by God?

This is all on top of the implications for employees. If you work at Hobby Lobby, could the company require you to attend Bible study? What if your employer is a Christian Scientist? Could they refuse to provide health insurance at all, citing their religious beliefs? These become real scenarios if the Court decides that belief trumps all other considerations, including actual fact.

Over the last few years, corporations have accumulated more and more power, under the guise of “freedom.” At the moment, employers can fire employees for their political views, require employees to attend political rallies, and even volunteer for candidates they disagree with. Hobby Lobby is asking the Supreme Court to extend this even further, to forcing employees to choose health insurance that matches the religious preferences of their employers.

All of this raises important questions. Is this about securing religious liberty, or expanding it for a particular group? And if it’s the latter, is Hobby Lobby fighting for “liberty,” or is it demanding the right to oppress?


By: Jamelle Bouie, The Daily Beast, November 27, 2013

November 30, 2013 Posted by | Contraception, Religion | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Common Enemy”: Why Is It That Only Women Need Informing On Reproductive Health?

Legislators from Arizona to Virginia want women to undergo often invasive procedures before having a legal abortion, since the lawmakers are convinced that the women don’t really understand what they are doing. And leaders in the Catholic Church, which opposes contraception, are fighting Obama administration rules requiring employers (including those affiliated with the church, although not the church itself) to include birth control in their healthcare plans. The battles—which many of us thought had been fought and resolved decades ago—have caused dissension over religious freedom versus religious dictate, and on the role of government in people’s lives.

Sometimes it takes a common enemy to unite people otherwise diametrically opposed on such an emotional issue. And for that, we have Desmond Hatchett.

Hatchett is the 33-year-old Tennessee man who has fathered 30 children with 11 different women. He has a minimum wage job, and is asking a judge for a break on his child support. Under the law, half of his earnings must go to support the children, and because his earnings are so low, according to local news reports, some of the women receive as little as $1.49 a month in child support. Hatchett told an interviewer who wondered how he managed to help conceive so many children that he had had four kids in one year—”twice,” he added.

Really, legislators and church elders. Do you really think it’s women whose sexuality and sexual behavior needs to be controlled?

There’s surely some sort of medical or psychological term for people who have children for their own sake, with little regard for the health and welfare of the children (not to mention the taxpayers who well might end up supporting them). It’s a special kind of narcissism, the desire for notoriety combined with the self-centered drive to keep replicating your gene pool all over the place. The judgment of the women who got pregnant by this man is also in question (or maybe their healthcare plans don’t cover birth control?), but Hatchett is a special case. At least the women are limited by basic biology to the number of children they can bear in a particular time frame.

So, legislators and radio talk show hosts: The next time you want to wring your hands over the women you consider (or call) misguided, uninformed about their own bodies, or even just plan sluts and prostitutes, have a sit-down with Hatchett. Perhaps he might have benefited from a precarnal video explaining the consequences of his actions.


By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, May 24, 2012

May 24, 2012 Posted by | Women's Health | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Not To Worry Ladies”: Rick Perry And The Texas GOP Has Your Back

After doing their best to dismantle the Women’s Health Program—and losing federal funding in the process—the state’s Republicans promise they’ll find the money somehow.

Texas health officials are telling low-income women not to worry. The Women’s Health Program, the Medicaid program serving 130,000 women, will still be there for them. Of course, how it will be paid for and whether enough clinics will be left providing services are still subjects up for debate.

The Republican-dominated Texas Legislature cut funding for the program—which offers poor women basic reproductive health services like birth control and cancer screenings—by two-thirds last year. The cuts came out of fear that the health-care providers were too linked with the so-called abortion industry. Just to be safe, conservative lawmakers barred Planned Parenthood from participating in the program. Of course, since the beginning of the program, no public dollars could go to abortions, and women could only participate if they were not pregnant.

The results were swift. The budget cuts resulted in clinic closings around the state, and the decision to exclude Planned Parenthood violated federal policy, meaning that the federal government, which paid for 90 percent of the $35 million program, would no longer pay for any of it. Protests have broken out around the state. Planned Parenthood has already filed a lawsuit.

But not to worry—Governor Rick Perry promised that the state would take over the Women’s Health Program. Yesterday, state health officials unveiled their plan. Step one: Stay on the federal tab a few months longer. Step two: They’re working on it.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission will ask the feds to keep funding them through November 1. (Texas was supposed to get cut off at the end of April.) By then, presumably, the state will find some way to free up dollars. That’s hardly a cakewalk. Texas has been in a fiscal crisis since 2011. For the last two-year budget, lawmakers had to deal with a $22 billion shortfall, resulting in unprecedented cuts to education and underfunding of Medicaid programs by almost $5 billion. The state has a structural deficit thanks to a dysfunctional tax structure. Yesterday, Perry announced his “Budget Compact,” which asks lawmakers to pledge no new or increased taxes as well as offering voters a constitutional amendment that would limit spending increases to the population growth.

Given the situation, $35 million isn’t going to be easy to find, unless the state comes up with a way to get more federal money. Which may be its best option. According to The Texas Tribune, officials “hinted the state could free up state dollars to fund the Women’s Health Program by seeking federal block grants for other programs.”

But even if they find the money, there’s still the problem of clinics. Planned Parenthood clinics served almost 50 percent of the women participating in the WHP. With those providers out of the picture, the remaining clinics have to shoulder the burden—and they have to do so with a major funding cut. As the Austin Chronicle notes, non-Planned Parenthood clinic Community Action Inc. has had to close 11 of its 13 clinics in Central Texas. The two remaining ones are in danger as well. In their plan for taking over the program, state officials say they will try to increase the number of providers.

The head of the state’s biggest health agency, Tom Suehs, has promised that things will be fine, dismissing the “scare tactics and misinformation campaigns.” The bigger challenge, he says, is “making sure women get accurate information about the program in the midst of organized attempts to confuse and frighten those who rely on it.”

Maybe it’s just me, but what’s confusing is a health-care policy that makes it hard to access health care.


BY: Abby Rapoport, The American Prospect, April 18, 2012

April 19, 2012 Posted by | Womens Rights | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Contraception Primer: Here’s How It Works Guys

I am not going to link to the Rush Limbaugh “slut” comment. I have too busy a day ahead to spend the next six hours furiously scrubbing myself in the shower whilst rocking and weeping.

I will, however, attempt a substantive point, since this idea that young women are having so much sex they are going broke and want taxpayers to bail them out seems to be solidifying into an actual, real-life meme (which is a bit astounding given what year it is).

That’s just not how it works! Reading the comments that have been made recently, you get the sense that the people—mostly older guys—puking out these sorts of arguments haven’t quite grasped the basics of circa-20121960s contraceptive technology.

So, to all the people making this argument: Hi! Here’s a quick primer. This debate is mostly about the pill, not condoms. It’s not the case that every time a woman has sex she has to take a pill (though something like that also exists for emergency situations, and I’m aware that this enrages you). Rather, women get a prescription for these things called birth-control pills that are generally taken every day. So it’s a fixed prescription cost, and like many such costs, if insurance doesn’t cover it it can get  out of hand really quickly because our medical system is an octopus riding a donkey riding a skateboard into a sadness quarry. But there is no proportional relationship between the amount of sex a woman has and the number of standard birth-control pills she consumes. Why, there are even women who aren’t sexually active who take the pill for medical reasons. Whoa!

I know this is a lot to take in all at once, guys. But there are plenty of online resources available if you have any questions.


By: Jesse Singal, Washington Monthly, Political Animal, March 1, 2012

March 2, 2012 Posted by | Women's Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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