You are browsing the archive for Michele Bachmann.

Can We Have A Grown-Up Conversation About HPV Yet?

7:18 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

"Conversation" by Smile My Day on flickr

"Conversation" by Smile My Day on flickr

Written by Amanda Marcotte for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

One thing guaranteed about presidential election season is that any issue that a major candidate chooses to raise, no matter how obscure beforehand, can suddenly rise to an issue of national importance.  Thus it has been with the HPV vaccine.  Ever since it’s come out, those of us in the trenches on reproductive health care have been trying to raise the alarm about right-wing opposition to the vaccine, which prevents transmission of harmful forms of Human Papilomavirus (HPV), thereby also preventing the possible development of genital warts and of cervical cancer, and all the various and unpleasant treatments women have to endure to make sure they don’t get cervical cancer, such as coloscopies  and LEEP procedures.  But because it prevents a disease you get through sexual contact, many on the Christian right oppose the vaccination.  They tend to mindlessly support anything—even deadly cancers—that can be perceived as divine justice for the very human act of having sex.

Before Michele Bachmann started yapping on national TV about the vaccine and claiming that it makes girls “retarded”, pervasive right wing opposition to the vaccine wasn’t deemed worthy of much mainstream media attention.  I suspect that it was seen as a fringe phenomenon, like the belief that fluoride in the drinking water is a mind control agent. In one sense, it is a fringe belief—there’s consensus amongst experts that this vaccine is a good thing.  But because the experts believe something doesn’t mean that nutty opinions in the public at large can’t have widespread negative effects.  Whisper campaigns against the HPV vaccines are a perfect example. Only a third of girls are getting all three shots, for instance.  Part of the problem is that it’s a hassle to get three shots, and part of the problem is that it’s expensive.  But the research has shown that as income levels rose past a certain point, vaccination rates declined slightly.  This probably reflects the fact that people on the somewhat wealthier end of the spectrum are more likely to be conservative, and therefore more likely to think it’s appropriate to use the fear of disease and death to control female sexuality. Read the rest of this entry →

Memo to Michele Bachmann: You Can’t Have an Abortion If You Are Not Pregnant

9:02 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Editor-in-Chief Jodi Jacobson for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

At a certain point, trying to have a conversation with fundamentalist anti-choicers about what is and is not a contraceptive and what is and is not an abortifacient is like trying to talk to an obstinate two-year-old. There isn’t much room or apparent capacity for reasoning.

People can believe whatever they want and I will fight to the death to defend their freedom to misinformation. But when it comes to politics, policy, and the effects of ideological beliefs on the health and lives of all the rest of us, I draw a line.

And so should the media.

In the GOP-Tea Party debate Monday night, co-hosted by CNN, Michele Bachmann repeated the falsehood once again that emergency contraception, also known as the “morning after pill,” causes abortion and that by including contraceptives under health reform without a co-pay, the Obama Administration was forcing people to pay for abortion.

What the Obama Administration did was to include contraception under health reform without a co-pay, because it is an essential form of primary preventive care for women and because among other things, the use of contraception to space and limit births also contributes to dramatic improvements of infant and child health in planned pregnancies.

And what the morning after pill does not do is to cause abortion, because it prevents pregnancy and by definition you can’t have an abortion if you are not pregnant.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Food and Drug Administration, and the World Health Organization among other medical bodies define pregnancy as beginning when a fertilized egg successfully implants in the uterine lining.  Implantation leads to the production of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), which then inhibits maturation of additional eggs by the ovaries.  Successful implantation and the presence of hCG, which in fact can’t even be easily detected for some weeks after implantation, signals the establishment of a pregnancy.

“The definition [of the beginning of pregnancy] is critical to distinguishing between a contraceptive that prevents pregnancy and an abortifacient that terminates it,” writes Rachel Benson Gold of the Guttmacher Institute.

“[O]n the… question of when a woman is considered pregnant, the medical community has long been clear: Pregnancy is established when a fertilized egg has been implanted in the wall of a woman’s uterus. And on this point, federal policy has long been both consistent and in accord with the scientists: Drugs and devices that act before implantation prevent, rather than terminate, pregnancy.”

According to a website dedicated to emergency contraception co-hosted by Princeton University and the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, “The way emergency contraceptive pills work depends on where you are in your monthly cycle when you take them. EC works primarily, or perhaps exclusively, by delaying or inhibiting ovulation (release of your egg). It is possible that EC may affect the movement of egg or sperm (making them less likely to meet), interfere with the fertilization process, or prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.” (See also this ACOG fact sheet.)

Emergency contraception therefore prevents pregnancy.

I realize that anti-choice fundamentalists have declared of their own accord that a woman is pregnant the minute a sperm penetrates the wall of an ovum–indeed going further they equate a fertilized egg with a person–but this is not either the accepted medical definition nor is it the the way most people even think about pregnancy.  But since their agenda is to re-define all contraceptive methods as abortifacients (the “personhood” movement and United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also claim for example that the pill and the IUD act as abortifacients) and ultimately make contraception illegal or at the least inaccessible, it behooves fundamentalist politicians like Bachmann to keep repeating these lies until they gain traction.

And corporate media it appears, is doing everything it can to help.  An otherwise factually-based CNN story today ran with this headline:

“Are health plans forced to cover free ‘abortion pills?’”

And this evening on CNN, according to our colleague Sarah Burris, John King further perpetuated the misinformation by doing a “truth test” on Bachmann with a “truth meter” on her statement that referred to whether the Obama Administration had mandated inclusion of coverage under health reform of the “Morning-After Abortion Pill.” These headlines and the misuse of medical terminology are all part of the broader problem of the obfuscation of medicine and science through which inaccurate media reporting contributes to the increasingly ideological and dangerous attacks on women’s health and rights.

Clearly, Bachmann and other extremist anti-choicers need a truth meter, but it would be helpful if both the media claiming to check the facts and the “truth-o-meter” itself were held to a higher standard of accuracy.

The GOP Debate in Iowa Reveals the Candidates Have No Grasp on Reproductive Health

10:42 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

"The Iowa Debate Spin Room"

"The Iowa Debate Spin Room" by TalkRadioNews on flickr || The press gathered in the spin room on Iowa State at the Republican Debate

Written by Dr. Jen Gunter for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

The debate in Iowa was an opportunity for the GOP hopefuls to showcase their stand against abortion, because there’s nothing better than a pissing match about reproductive health to rally the fundraisers and fill the war chest. Here are some quotes from the evening:

Rick Santorum on why abortion should be illegal, even in the event of rape of incest:

“To be victimized twice would be a horrible thing. We should surround these women and help them.”

Tim Pawlenty reflected on his legislative record which he felt led to “abortion at historic lows,” bragging that based on:

“These results, not rhetoric, I may be the most pro-life candidate in this race.”

The candidates clearly do not understand any facts related to abortion (I suspect they don’t care, they’re just after sound bites and money). But seriously, if you are going to discuss a topic then learn about it beforehand. First of all, abortion does not victimize women. The rate of serious complications is less than 0.3 percent and study after study shows no effect on mental health. If I were the moderator I would have asked for clarification from Mr. Santorum for his definition of victimization and to provide medical evidence to prove it. Read the rest of this entry →

Bachmanns’ Anti-Gay Therapy Practice Takes Page From Crisis Pregnancy Centers

9:47 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Editor-in-Chief Jodi Jacobson for This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

One of the most pervasive characteristics of the anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-woman movement, of which Michele Bachmann proudly places herself in the forefront, is that they are also anti-science and anti-evidence and openly flout sound medical practices based on evidence and clinical practice and approved by legitimate medical boards and associations.

These practices have long been a feature of so-called crisis pregnancy centers, which exist solely to confuse women seeking to terminate a pregnancy, often have no medical staff and, as a matter of practice, offer women outright false information, such as that having an abortion will cause increase their risks of breast cancer.

Crisis pregnancy centers engage in these practices because they know the evidence is not on their side. Their only hope at “succeeding” in their quests (success being defined as abrogating women’s rights to self-determination) is to mislead women who have decided to terminate a pregnancy with lies based on ideology and misguided theology, not evidence.

This, it appears, is the model adopted by the Bachmanns with respect to sexual orientation.

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