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Anti-Choicers Can’t Get Around It: Their Arguments Have No Standing

1:06 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Birth Control Pills

Arguments against mandated access to birth control have no legal (or ethical) standing.

As part of the struggle to prevent women from using the health-care benefits they earn, six state attorneys general—who clearly need something better to do with their time—launched a suit to give employers the right to deny employees coverage of birth control as part of their health policies. Now, those attorneys general are giving up the lawsuit, for now at least, in no small part because a federal judge earlier ruled they have no standing to sue. What other people do with their own insurance coverage does not, it turns out, cause any actual damage to strangers, making it really hard for these conservative attorneys to argue that they have standing. Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress explains:

“Standing” is the requirement that a plaintiff show that they have actually been injured by a law before they are allowed to sue to challenge it in federal court. No one, not even a state attorney general acting on behalf of his or her state, is allowed to bring a case to federal court simply because they do not like the law, or because they are able to offer some speculative reason why the law might somehow injure them at some point in the future.

This problem that these attorneys general were facing is a fundamental problem for the anti-choice movement generally: All their beliefs go back to the conviction that what other people, even perfect strangers, are doing in bed somehow affects them and so needs to be stopped by any means necessary. (Sadly, as family planning clinics and abortion clinics can tell you, this sometimes means that criminal and even violent behavior is often a part of the arsenal that anti-choicers use in attacking other people for having sex without their permission.) The problem with this belief is self-evident. What other people are doing with their bodies does not actually affect anti-choicers, and so their standing—not just legally, but morally—is always hard to impossible to establish. Thus, the never-ending parade of bad faith arguments and outright lies that come from anti-choicers.

With their support of abortion bans, there’s at least a mild plausibility to their claim to be concerned over fetal life, though of course it crumbles the second you start looking more deeply at the evidence, particularly when it comes to the fact that anti-choicers consistently resist every realistic policy known to reduce the abortion rate because those policies don’t actually satisfy their real desire to punish women for having sex. Beyond that, though, they lose the ability to come up with arguments that don’t nakedly expose their belief that they are the proper owners of your body.

The contraception mandate battle is a perfect example of this. Unable to come right out and say that they don’t want it to be too easy for women to have non-procreative sex, anti-choicers have instead latched onto this “religious freedom for employers” argument. Unfortunately, the argument doesn’t work without the assumption that your employer has some ownership over his employee’s private life, including her own religious beliefs. The argument rests on the assumption that because your employer has a right to control your compensation after he’s released it to you, that even though the insurance plan actually belongs to you and not your employer—because you earned it, alongside your paycheck—he has a right to dictate how you use it. It really is no different than trying to control how you spend your paycheck, but anti-choicers hope the public, confused by the heavily bureaucratic insurance system, won’t see that. But if you spend even a few moments thinking about it, it becomes clear that the objection to the contraception mandate is rooted in the belief that your employer has a right to try to impose his religious views on you in the bedroom.

Another favored tactic is to focus excessively on young women under the age of 18, exaggerating how much control parents have over the bodies of teenage girls and appointing themselves substitute parents in order to gain control. But inevitably, these kinds of arguments always end up giving them the control over adult women they quietly believe they are entitled to. Laws requiring Plan B to be put behind the pharmacy counter were justified as ways to keep teenagers from defying their parents’ supposed right to force them to ovulate, but the result was that adult women also had incredibly restricted access.

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Real Anti-Choice Agenda Revealed in Attack on Anti-Choice Dems

7:02 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Amanda Marcotte for – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

It was a small news item in Politico, but one that unwittingly revealed the truth behind one of the most persistent myths about the anti-choice movement, which is that they are “single issue” voters. The story is simple. A number of anti-choice groups have decided to target anti-choice Democrats who voted for health care reform, even though there’s no reality-based reason to think the law provides funding for abortion. In other words, the anti-choice movement is coming closer to coming clean about how they simply carry the water for the entire conservative movement, and cynically use fear-mongering over abortion to push for a whole host of right wing agenda items.

Let’s be clear: There is nothing “pro-life” about opposition to universal health care. In a reality-based world, in order to earn the moniker “pro-life”, one should support life, and few things do much better at achieving that goal than demanding inexpensive, efficient, universal health care. Even if you’re just pro-birth, you should love universal health care, since having it is the major reason most other industrialized nations have lower infant mortality rates than we do. If you’re motivated by loathing for sexually-active women, it’s hard to say why you should care much about health care reform in any direction, since the amount of health care dedicated to protecting the sexual health of women is a small amount of overall health care spending. If you’re a single issue voter on abortion, health care reform shouldn’t really matter to you one way or another.

Yet you have the anti-choice movement working as a single beast to attack Democrats who, by and large, give anti-choicers all sorts of support in their "forced childbirth/punish the sluts" goals. Poor Bart Stupak, for instance, couldn’t catch a break with these people. He bore a heavy load for anti-choicers, shoring up the single issue credentials they crave and bashing everyone female in sight, from internet feminists to pro-health care nuns. His reward was that they harassed him and called him a “baby killer”. Why? He didn’t change his mind on abortion. (Still against it.) He didn’t change his attitude towards women. (Still condescending.) He voted for a series of regulations and bureaucratic adjustments that have no real relationship to abortion, for better or for worse. But he and all other anti-abortion Democrats are targets.

The official excuse for why anti-choice groups can campaign against life-saving health care reform while still wearing the farcical label “pro-life” is that they believe that the law provides federal funding for abortion. But they could not have come to this conclusion through a sober-minded assessment of the facts, since such a sober assessment would lead one to the truth, which is that Congress and the President went out of their way to stop federal funding for abortion precisely to placate the anti-choice Democrats. So if this belief isn’t grounded in reality, where are they getting it?

The most logical explanation is that anti-choice groups believe something that isn’t true about the law because they oppose health care reform, and want a politically expedient and even Christian-sounding reason to oppose it. Coming right out and opposing health care reform for the standard issue conservative reasons—i.e., their real reasons—would blow the cover story that many anti-choice groups have, which is that they’re interested in “life” or human welfare. Groups like the Susan B. Anthony List try to steal the identity of feminism, for instance, in order to promote an agenda that’s anti-woman and anti-life. Their cover story of pro-feminism is weak to begin with, but coming straight out against health care reform for the standard conservative reasons would make their already ludicrous claims to be anti-abortion feminists even more ludicrous. After all, how “pro-life” and “pro-woman” is it to support a system where getting breast cancer means getting kicked off your insurance? Can you really continue to front like you’re pro-life if you’re supporting a system where small children can’t get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions, where many infants and mothers die unnecessarily because of gaps in maternal care, where thousands die every year from lack of health insurance?

Most importantly, if you think that insurance company profits are more valuable than the lives of living, breathing people, then your enthusiasm for stripping women’s rights away looks cruel indeed. It’s clear then that this is the ranking in your mind: profits, embryos, real people, women’s rights.

The breath-taking cynicism of the anti-choice movement is on full display with this campaign against anti-choice Democrats. It’s hard to take anti-choice claims that they feel deeply for fetuses seriously when they use abortion as nothing more than a tool to distort and raise emotional stakes on issues that have little to do with abortion. Anti-choice leaders increasingly use “abortion” as a buzzword to rally the troops against whatever issue the larger conservative movement worries about, if they can even find the slimmest of an angle.

The use of abortion as a cynical political ploy does great things for individual politicians on the right, who need some way to wrap themselves in a humanitarian cloth while pushing policies that don’t do much good for most people. But for the shock troops of the anti-choice movement, I see no real benefits. Most people lured into opposing health care reform with dishonest, scandalizing language about abortion probably stand to benefit from the legislation in the long run. Few of us are independently wealthy, and so we can’t get out of engaging in the increasingly dysfunctional health care system.

Still, even setting aside this specific example, you have to wonder about a movement that lies to its base to motivate them. Most anti-choicers are already stalwart, across-the-board conservatives, and yet here their leadership is lying to them about abortion and health care reform to get them to open their wallets and dedicate their time to throwing out anti-abortion Democrats. I don’t know about you, but I’m not usually one to enjoy having my leaders lie to me in order to get me motivated.

Sotomayor, Race and Gender: An Abortion Debate by Proxy

7:41 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Pamela Merrit for – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

When Supreme Court Justice David Souter announced that he intended to step down from the bench at the end of this year’s Supreme Court term, there was a brief pause, a collective gathering in of air, followed by a frenzy of speculation that did not end until President Obama announced his selection of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as nominee. During the days of guesswork and anticipation that preceded Obama’s nomination of Sotomayor, political odds-makers seemed to favor the selection of a woman, with most pundits leaning toward a woman of color, to replace Justice Souter. Everyone was on pins and needles, and who could blame us? During the 2008 elections, the that the next President would most likely have the opportunity to nominate more than one Supreme Court justice and shape the political climate of the court for decades to come was one of the key areas of concern.

Pro-choice groups hoped for a nominee with a judicial record supporting a woman’s right to choose. Anti-choice groups busily combed through the records of likely nominees looking for ammunition to Read the rest of this entry →