Does Doug MacEachern oppose abortion to save the life of the woman? I have concerns about that!

17 Jul 2015 12:17 am
Posted by: Donna

I will not suffer a defective incubator to live!

Well, the modicum of goodwill Doug MacEachern had built up with me on Wednesday for acknowledging the allegations that Planned Parenthood sells fetus parts are spurious was demolished on Thursday, when he walked that back and proceeded to insinuate that something sinister is going on after all. And also lets you know that the Planned Parenthood rep “enjoyed a sumptuous lunch” (which is what we’re calling “salad” these days, I guess).

I argued in an earlier column that it is not exactly clear from Nucatola’s lunchtime performance that she is describing “products” that are for sale, which is against federal law, albeit an ambiguous federal law.

I’m less sure now. Oddly enough, Planned Parenthood — which is clearly in a public-relations panic over this video — is contributing to its critics’ arguments. The abortion provider hired a PR firm that is contradicting Nucatola’s own description of payments, which she says go to “shipping” and to account for the fact that “somebody gonna have to take it out..”

According to Planned Parenthood’s new line of defense “Nucatela was speculating on the range of reimbursement that patients can receive (emphasis added) after stating they wish to donate any tissue after a procedure.”

That just is not what she said. The Planned Parenthood official said nothing, explicitly or implied, about any “reimbursements” going to patients. She describes, more than once, that payments are constructed so that Planned Parenthood affiliates can “do a little better than break even.”

Plenty of people are convinced that Nucatola is describing a body-parts market.

Plenty of people are also idiots. But this renewed scrutiny of Planned Parenthood is not the main thrust of MacEachern’s column. That, he saves for the last sentence.

That is the most disturbing message from Nucatola’s performance. That partial-birth abortion of well-developed fetuses is far more widespread — and perhaps far more lucrative — than we’ve been led to believe.

This is a perfect illustration of the disturbing willingness of many people to believe the absolute worst of women, in many areas but especially where abortion is concerned. What might MacEachern be imagining here? Does he think women are deliberately getting pregnant and waiting to abort until such time as they have Grade A fetal tissue to provide to the eager peddlers of such at Planned Parenthood? Sure seems so!

And I’m going to take the worst assumptions about Doug MacEachern and those of the people he seems to agree with further – because MacEachern is being such a stickler for exactly what was or was not stipulated to by Dr. Nucatola in the Planned Parenthood video – to note how he made his unfounded claim of “widespread partial birth abortion” without even mentioning the possibility of women needing abortions late in pregnancy to save their lives! Since MacEachern didn’t spell that out in his column, then isn’t it entirely possible that he, in fact, does not believe pregnant women on the brink of death should be allowed lifesaving terminations? Wow, that would be pretty ghoulish of him.

On assuming the absolute worst of women (and the people who care for them) by default

16 Jul 2015 01:46 am
Posted by: Donna

female symbolLiar!

To his credit, AZ Republic columnist Doug MacEachern examined some of the available evidence of recent the “OMG PLANNED PARENTHOOD IS SELLING BABY PARTS!!” allegation, found it wanting, and said so on Wednesday morning.

But he wasn’t letting us off that easily. Doug did what many conservative pundits are doing, where he went with the strategy of “okay, it’s not selling but look how ghoulish the process to get this tissue is!” to argue that people should still take this very, very seriously and feel very, very sad about it. He pressed the point by citing a tweet of mine and of Amanda Marcotte mocking the “shocking hidden video!” kerfluffle.

This strategy can be pretty effective because the process sounds gross and people are squeamish about medical procedures (most people would faint if they had to draw blood), unlike medical professionals who tend to develop a hardened attitude and often engage in casual black humor. But what if you leave the ick factor aside and considered who it is who might want to donate fetal tissue voluntarily? A picture could emerge of a woman who had a wanted pregnancy and who opted for termination upon learning in about the 5th month (which is the earliest many conditions can be detected) that her fetus had conditions that were incompatible with life outside the womb. She may decide that donating the fetal tissue is a way to salvage the horrible situation since maybe a researcher could learn about why the fetus’ development went awry and other prospective parents could benefit from the knowledge in the future.

If you think about it unfolding as I described (and why would such a scenario be unreasonable?) then it’s easy to see why the abortion doctor would do the procedure in a way that would best preserve the organs in their complete state. Why were so many people, including many who could not be described as anti-abortion zealots, so willing to leap to the least charitable assumption about what Planned Parenthood and their patients were doing with fetal tissue (selling baby parts! for money!) and not the more benign possibility that I just laid out? Wouldn’t my hypothetical be more plausible than simply assuming it’s done to “harvest baby parts!” out of a callous profit motive, as the anti-choicers would have you believe?

Obviously this in large part because it is about abortion and anti-abortion advocates have done a masterful job sowing misinformation and confusion about the subject. They are also very opposed to the idea of women having non-procreative sex, hence their general opposition to preventative measures like contraception access and sex ed. But they haven’t gotten as far as they have in a cultural vacuum. As I’ve said many times before, anti-choicers operate in a larger culture that is profoundly distrustful and contemptuous of women (and yes, women are often complicit in that, intentionally or not).

To illustrate: About a year and a half ago I was at a NARAL event – I repeat, a NARAL event – and was chatting with a very nice and intelligent woman about anti-choice legislation that was happening in Arizona when, without warning, she hit me with, “But I’m just not sure about the ones done later in the pregnancy.” It turned out that she and her wife were the parents of an infant who had been born prematurely and saved by intensive neonatal care. She said the experience made her feel ambivalent and also something along the lines of “women shouldn’t wait so long to do it.”

I’ll reiterate that this was a very nice and intelligent woman clearly not speaking from a place of malice at all and it’s understandable that her and her wife’s experience would color her opinion. But why did she (a woman at a freaking NARAL event!) go straight to what seemed to be the very worst assumption about women who seek abortions after the first trimester? Again, a lot can be laid at the feet of anti-choicers and their relentless insistence that such abortions are only done for callous and frivolous reasons but, again, their claims still resonate with the general public for reasons that go beyond that.

If this were just about people’s uncharitable conclusions about women (other women, bad women!) that they kibitzed among themselves, it would be one thing. But it’s not. It’s about the laws that are passed based on anti-choice zealotry and greeted with a yawn by the public due to those same uncharitable conclusions about women. I don’t have time to give an intricate explanation to every random person I meet at a party that her squeamishness about fifth month abortions might contribute to her wife possibly dying from pregnancy complications because the doctor dares not perform the termination without a second doctor’s opinion and hospital legal department approval because the law was written and/or enforced assuming the absolute worst about women and those who care for them.

I shouldn’t have to. People should just stop assuming the worst of women and their health care providers.

Anti-choicers push a dumb conspiracy theory yet again

14 Jul 2015 10:38 pm
Posted by: Donna

Perhaps looking for something, anything to distract from the devastation (for them) of the Iran nuclear deal (OMG, we’re going to negotiate instead of drop bombs on them, the humanity!), right wingers dredged up the tiresome urban legend of abortion clinics selling fetal body parts for profit on Tuesday. I’ve been familiar with this tale since the early 90s. It always gets debunked as the risible garbage it is but not before it is breathlessly blanketed across right wing media and is picked up by at least some credulous MSM reporters.

When I first saw #PlannedParenthood trending in the morning and saw what it was about, I felt it best to assume the worst before scoffing. Maybe they had (finally) caught someone who worked for Planned Parenthood fiendishly selling fetal organs unbeknownst to patients. Or maybe in full collusion with the dirty abortion-having skanks. Who can tell what may be going on in the febrile imaginations of anti-choicers at any given time? So I tweeted this:

Because honestly, if the allegations of the heavily edited “sting” tape were 100% true I would put it in the same category as Margaret Sanger being a fan of eugenics (she was) and Kermit Gosnell (terrible monster who ran a filthy clinic in Philadelphia and killed at least one patient and who is currently in jail for his crimes). When either is thrown at me my response is (something along the lines of): Of what relevance is that to the right of women to have safe legal abortion and access to contraception? Seriously, I and other women should be in constant state of pregnancy in 2015 because Margaret Sanger was a dick about some things a century ago? All clinics should be shut down for “safety” because of one asshole who ran an unsafe one? Absurd.

As the day went on I became safely certain the anti-choice sting operation was bullshit but my tweet, naturally, caused my timeline to be swarmed with angry anti-choicers screaming how I’m a baby killer and whatnot. And Doug MacEachern, editor at the Arizona paper of record where he works the angry birther uncle beat, tweeted this at me because journalism.

I provided MacEachern with a link to Planned Parenthood’s statement in response to the “sting” video so that he might discontinue looking foolish about this, but we’ll see. I hate that this is distracting from real, important news like Iran but anti-choice conspiracy nuttery has a way of becoming widely circulated enough to seem vaguely credible and then used to justify concrete attacks on reproductive health care access so it needs to be quashed quickly.

What Jim Webb considers to be the liberal equivalent of Donald Trump

13 Jul 2015 03:49 am
Posted by: Donna

bree newsomeA woman doing the exact same thing as Donald Trump did when he described Mexican immigrants as rapists, obviously

Former Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), who announced his candidacy for US Presidency to the enthusiasm of literally no one, had scathing words for GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump. Per The Hill:

“This kind of divisive, inflammatory rhetoric from people who want to be commander in chief is not helpful,” Webb told host Bret Baier on “Fox News Sunday.”

“Don’t be throwing these bombs,” he added.

So far so good, but I have learned when a centrist like Webb uses violent metaphors like “throwing bombs” to describe any political rhetoric he finds distasteful, a false equivalence is bound to follow. And sure enough:

Webb argued on Sunday that a liberal equivalent exists in the recent push to remove all Confederate symbols from government grounds.

“We’ve seen it on the liberal side too with Southern white culture,” he said of insensitivity towards Southern culture.

While much of the “both sides do it!” palaver should be understood as errant nonsense from people too lazy or fearful to address the very real threat to this country posed by radical right wing reactionaries, a veritable cottage industry of centrists pushing their own agenda has emerged to take advantage of it. Here’s an example how it works: “Extremists on the Right want to shut the government down while extremists on the Left are refusing to accept our awesome ideas about cutting Social Security and Medicare and privatizing the schools! Join our No Labels/Americans Elect/Simpson Bowles/Open Primaries movement to put partisanship aside and work toward sensible solutions! (That the rich people funding this endeavor just so happen to favor).”

In Jim Webb’s case, it’s not so much about rich people’s desires. Webb seems to have a real affinity for the loser traitor Stars and Bars flag and other relics of the Old South. He is acting as if the people who have been offended by having a symbol of slavery and bigotry shoved in their faces by the very institutions their taxes support for decades are demanding its removal by those institutions – in the aftermath of a brutal massacre of nine African-Americans by a white guy who waved it proudly – merely as a personal affront to guys like Jim Webb. That is a staggering level of oblivious narcissism on his part. It, unfortunately, does not end with Webb’s flag fetish:

“You’re right – the Democratic Party has moved way to the left,” Webb told Baier when asked about the emergence of progressive politics into Democratic ideology.

“That’s not my Democratic Party,” he said. “I believe that we can bring a different tone to the Democratic Party.”

Webb charged on Sunday that his campaign could find success with America’s working class.

“These are people who have not (sic) been forgotten by both parties,” he said of blue-collar voters. “I think they need a voice.”

There’s nothing new about this supposedly colorblind appeal to economic populism from certain right-leaning Democrats and this has been Jim Webb’s particular jam for some time.

Nondiscrimination laws should be applied equally among all citizens, including those who happen to be white. The need for inclusiveness in our society is undeniable and irreversible, both in our markets and in our communities. Our government should be in the business of enabling opportunity for all, not in picking winners. It can do so by ensuring that artificial distinctions such as race do not determine outcomes.

Memo to my fellow politicians: Drop the Procrustean policies and allow harmony to invade the public mindset. Fairness will happen, and bitterness will fade away.

It’s hard to see how picking angry white Southerners as winners by allowing their hateful symbol to be displayed on public sites funded by all taxpayers advances harmony in the public mindset and is conducive to bitterness fading away. I’m also unsure as to how it helps anyone economically to massage bitter white egos in this way. Then again, has improving economic conditions ever been the point of race-baiting on behalf of white people?

Pro-choice movement (finally) gets proactive on demanding end to funding bans on abortion

09 Jul 2015 02:00 am
Posted by: Donna

all above all

When President Obama got elected in 2008 and Democrats took over both chambers of Congress I entertained the faint hope that they would overturn the Hyde Amendment. Naturally, I felt it was highly unlikely as the recession needed to be dealt with immediately (and that sense only deepened when Republicans pitched a fit over the stimulus possibly funding birth control programs). The President was also fully in his “post-partisan” honeymoon phase, where he was trying very hard to demonstrate to the country and to the Republicans in Congress that he wanted to work across the aisle. That President Obama would not have signed a repeal of the Hyde Amendment under the slight possibility that such a bill would have gotten a cloture vote through the Blue Dogs in the Senate and reached his desk was a given in my mind. The Affordable Care Act – the most significant reform that was passed by the 2009/10 Congress – needed to have a provision reifying the Hyde Amendment to get enough votes from anti-choice Democrats.

Now that President Obama is a lame duck and clearly done with GOP bullshit, I wonder if this bill just introduced in the House would have a fighting chance if Democrats controlled both houses. Per PRWeb:

Washington, DC (PRWEB) July 08, 2015
Today Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), along with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) and 61 other Congressional co-sponsors, introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act. The bill would ensure health coverage for abortion for every woman however much she earns or however she is insured. The bill is backed by 36 national and state organizations united under the campaign All* Above All.

“Each and every day, the rights of women are under attack in America – today, we push back because every person has a right to healthcare. The EACH Woman Act is a bold and groundbreaking step forward. This legislation would ensure that every woman can access ALL of her healthcare options, regardless of how much money she earns or where she lives,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “Regardless of how someone personally feels about abortion, none of us, especially elected officials, should be interfering with a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decision just because she is poor.”

“The passage of the EACH Woman Act would stop the terrible wrongs of the Hyde Amendment, which, for 37 years, have fallen hardest on people of color, low-income, and youth,” said Yamani Hernandez, Executive Director, National Network of Abortion Funds. “We applaud the bold vision of Representative Lee and the bill’s co-sponsors.”…(more at the link)

The All Above All cites a poll they commissioned that found that when Americans are asked the questions in the right way, they respond favorably to covering low-income women’s abortion care in the same way that their other reproductive health needs are covered under Medicaid. They state right up front that they over-sample young Americans, but you can see in the age breakdowns that older groups strongly support Medicaid coverage of abortion. This flies in the face of the standard line anti-choice groups are feeding us about how insurance coverage and taxpayer funding bans are popular and “commonsense”.

The bold move on the part of pro-choice Representatives to repeal Hyde and this poll speak to the need to challenge accepted “moderate” narratives on abortion. Many people describe themselves as pro-choice but uncomfortable with abortion after the first trimester. I get that, but it’s necessary to understand that abortions that occur after that point (about 13 weeks) that are not due to pregnancy complications often result from the inability of the woman to raise funds combined with various educational and physical access barriers (that can have devastating economic impacts on poor women) to obtaining an earlier procedure erected by anti-choice lawmakers. Thus, it’s not logically and ethically tenable to oppose second term abortions (but not earlier) while also blanching at insurance or Medicaid coverage of earlier procedures.

Happily, the All Above All poll indicates that the public understands this, when it is presented to them in the correct terms, a lot better than anti-abortion advocates would have everyone believe.

Bill Cosby and the cruel joke that is the “rape exception”

08 Jul 2015 03:06 am
Posted by: Donna

ac360 screenshot

A friend of mine asked recently if I planned on posting about the recent release of the deposition where Bill Cosby admitted to obtaining qualuudes to drug women he wanted to have sex with. I do feel like others have done the matter itself more justice than I could (special kudos to Jamilah Lemieux) but when I watched this CNN segment where Anderson Cooper interviewed Cosby victim Patti Masten it drove home a point I and other reproductive rights advocates have been making for some time. That point is that the “rape exception” blithely offered by anti-choicers as a token of moderation of their attempts to criminally ban abortion is – not to put too fine a point on it – bullshit.

Watch Masten, a former Playboy Club employee, describe how her male bosses (after she recounted her experience to them) scoffed at the very notion that anyone would believe that a famous and beloved comedian would drug and rape a woman. They told her to forget about it and move on. Worth noting is that they also had their own vested interest in protecting Cosby.

What if Masten had gotten pregnant by the attack and wanted an abortion, but the criminal ban on abortion that anti-choicers want had been in place? How, precisely, would she have obtained that magnanimous “rape exception” under the strict parameters that would typically bind such a thing? The proposed requirements (police report, mandatory counseling, etc.) vary but none that I’m aware of simply take the rape victim at her word. Of course they wouldn’t.

So-called “rape exceptions” are steeped in the same disbelief of victims and skepticism of women’s testimony as greeted Cosby’s accusers. Think about how rarely rape victims report in general and how often predators, especially if they are powerful, are shielded and enabled. Consider also how much “gray area” area around consent exists in sexual encounters and relationships*, and how women don’t necessarily control the contraception use.

Ponder – no, please, pour yourself a cup of tea and think hard on this – that dozens of women have come forward accusing Bill Cosby of raping them (or attempting it) but a lot of people still refused to believe them because, hey, he’s Bill Cosby and who are you, you conniving whore? And we are supposed to trust anti-abortion zealots – who don’t really believe that being raped is ever an excuse for abortion to be allowed – to craft sensible and compassionate “rape exceptions”, given how that is the culture in which they operate?

It seems to me that keeping criminal bans the hell off women’s private health decisions would be the way to go if you truly care about rape victims.

*Yes, the coercion sometimes (with heterosexuals) goes from the female toward the male. But only the possessors of female reproductive organs can become pregnant from sexual encounters, which is the subject at issue here.

“Both sides” nonsense and REAL IDs

07 Jul 2015 01:17 am
Posted by: Donna

real id

This past session the GOP majority in the Arizona Legislature whiffed on a chance to address the dumb and unforced dilemma the state is in with regard to our drivers licenses and IDs not complying with federal REAL ID standards. Here’s a brief overview of how it went down from the Republic back in March:

Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, introduced Senate Bill 1273 to avoid what he says could be a disaster when the January deadline arrives. Many travelers don’t have a passport, he said, and the cost of getting one is much higher than a driver’s license — potentially nine times as much.

Worsley’s bill passed the Senate, but House Speaker David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, failed to assign it to a committee in time for consideration. However, Gowan’s spokesman said Friday that the speaker wants the bill to move forward and is exploring “procedural options.”…

…Arizona lawmakers outlawed the issuance of secure identification cards in 2008 over concerns the federal requirements imposed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks reached too deeply into citizens’ private lives. Arizona is one of seven states without an ID that meets the federal standards, although 20 states have been granted extensions to comply with the requirements.

Worsley’s bill would give Arizonans the option of applying for a license that would meet the federal requirements. Applicants would have to show two documents confirming their permanent residence and return to a Motor Vehicle Division office every eight years for a new photo.

“There’s no chip in the card, no RF (radio-frequency tracking device) in the card — unlike the passport, which has a chip in it,” Worsley said…

…Opponents of the bill in the Legislature point to the seven-year-old ban and say there are alternatives to issuing a federally compliant driver’s license.

For example, Arizona could apply for a waiver, said Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert. However, Homeland Security offers extensions only for states that are working toward compliance but have complications in meeting the federal deadlines.

“I’m a big believer in skepticism toward the government,” Biggs said, especially when it comes to privacy issues. “It’s hard for me to believe the TSA (the federal Transportation Security Administration) is going to reject a legitimate driver’s license.”

In short, a Republican Senator proposed a solution that made it through the Senate (thanks to all the Democrats joining with the seven Republicans who voted for it) but it died in the House because the paranoid black helicopter crowd had to be indulged. In sum, it was a failure on the part of the Republicans. Not the individual fault of every single one of them, obviously, but as the majority caucus that controls the Arizona Legislature.

I’ll not say there was never any Democratic culpability in this, as then-Governor Janet Napolitano did sign the foolish ban on compliance with REAL ID (for whatever her reasons were) in 2008. But, as noted by Senator Biggs, the GOP leadership has had seven years since Napolitano departed the state, and control of it went completely into their hands, to come up with a workable alternative. At long last, Sen. Worsley came up with a good one! Under his plan you didn’t even have to get the ID with the thingamajiggy the jackbooted feds put in it that steals your essence! Keep your virginal state ID and get a passport, whatever. But, no.

This problem with state IDs simply cannot be laid, in any part, on Democrats in 2015 but lo and behold:

The machinations left Phoenix resident William Shaw sputtering in disgust.

“That whole thing was a bipartisan fiasco,” he fumed. The long-standing ban on complying with the federal law has resulted in confusion and inconvenience for drivers, he said.

His partner, who uses a walking stick, had to get a new driver’s license earlier this year when his old one expired. And now he’ll have to stand in line, again, to get a compliant license, Shaw said.

To be clear, I’m not here to bag on Mr. Shaw, who is probably a very nice man and understandably frustrated with this REAL ID problem. There are two possibilities here, neither of which reflect poorly on him: One is that Shaw assumes that Democratic lawmakers and bureaucrats are equally culpable because he doesn’t think of himself as a partisan and gets a steady diet of “both sides do it!” from his trusted media sources. The other is that he does know it’s the Republicans who have been dithering and pandering to the chemtrails crowd for several years now but also knows that, if he wants to appear reasonable and have his concerns taken seriously by the Very Serious People™, he must publicly blame both sides. Don’t want to come off like a partisan crank, even if you’re 100% right. It simply isn’t done. (Unless you’re a conservative partisan crank. You can totally go to town on that in Arizona. Civility is for everyone else.)