Rachel Maddow – An Exercise in Fertility

(Having difficulty with the video embed today, please click the link for video)

Currently all four Republican presidential candidates have taken an extreme stance on birth control. Birth control? Are we really arguing about women’s ability to plan their families in 2012? Yes. As Rachel Maddow points out in the spot on segment above, they are taking a stance on this issue that is even too extreme for the electorate in Mississippi.

Why has birth control become such an issue all of a sudden? I think Rachel hits the nail on the head that the beltway pundits are really missing the point on this one.

I realize that a lot of 60-something male pundits look at this and think it’s bad politics for the Democrats on the Catholic side. There is another way to look it.

That other way to look at it is as a woman. Novel concept! Except that it shouldn’t be, considering women have elected every president since JFK. Or another way to look at it could be as a Catholic woman, 98% of whom have used birth control.

In this economy, Rachel breaks it down to the bottom line.

Hey, women of America! Under a democratic president your birth control pills will be covered by health insurance, and if you don’t have health insurance you can go to a clinic and get subsidized birth control there. If a republican is elected your insurance won’t cover birth control, and if your insurance doesn’t cover it there are no clinics to go to any more to get birth control pills. Planned Parenthood defunded. Title 10 gone altogether. So you can’t get it from insurance, and you can’t get it from a clinic. You are paying cash, out of pocket, retail cost for birth control…$600 to $1200 a year. That’s if you’re lucky. Because if you’re not lucky, you live in a state where birth control has just been declared illegal. Do you want a democratic or republican president women of America?

Scary times:

Psalms 109:8, An Ugly Prayer for President Obama

Any time the citizens of a state, particularly a democracy, invoke their faith to pray for the demise of those they oppose politically, we should be concerned. When the call for such prayers becomes one of the most popular Google searches in the country, we should shake, especially those of us who believe in God, prayer and the Bible. Psalm 109, verse 8, went viral this morning in just that way.

Among the world’s top Google searches today are phrases that contain the words “Psalms 109 8″, and “Psalm 109 8 prayer for Obama”. For those of you who may not know that particular verse, it reads “May his days be few, may another take over his position.” And before anyone excuses this toxic use of scripture as nothing more than the wish that President Obama not be re-elected to a second term of office, the next verse in the psalm reads, “May his children be orphans and his wife a widow”.

In fact, the entire chapter is about the prayed for death of an evil person. Not to mention that anyone who knows enough Bible to have thought about this verse in particular, surely knows the entire chapter and appreciates its message. Pretty scary stuff.

All this is especially upsetting in light of the last weeks’ events at Fort Hood. Exactly how long is it going to take us to figure out the danger of linking faith claims and violent fantasies? How is it that the very same people who would have wanted to curtail access, and rightly so, to the hate-filled, violence-inducing, sermons to which Major Hasan listened, do not cry out against these prayers and those praying them?

The issue is not the scripture quoted or the name by which God is called by those doing the praying. The issue is invoking the God in whom any of us believe, to act as executioner of those with whom we disagree.

From Yigal Amir, who murdered Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, to Major Hassan who murdered 13 and wounded 30 more, to whomever might step in on behalf of a “Christian nation” to make the words of the Psalm 109 a reality, each was inspired by prayers and scriptural readings not unlike those of the millions who made verse 8 a top Google search this morning. There is no place for such prayers in any of our faiths and until we all stand up and say so, at least a little blood will be on all of our hands.

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield

This morning on Meet the Press, former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama.

While I lost nearly all respect for Powell when he lied to the UN in the push for the Iraq War, I gained some back today for his comments about Muslims.

I’m also troubled by what members of the party say, and is permitted to be said, such things as, “Well you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.”Well, the correct answer is, ‘He is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian, he’s always been a Christian.’

But the really right answer is, ‘What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?’

The answer is ‘No, that’s not America.’
Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion he’s a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

Thank you, Colin Powell, for using your voice to say what is right and what is true. And while conservatives are already spinning your words, that you endorsed Obama because of race or because McCain didn’t select you for VP, you did the right thing by using your access to the press to say something that has been needing to be said (Campbell Brown did her part, too). There truly is no other response to the demonizing of Muslims in this country than to stop doing it. Spin away, Fox News and John McCain, but you know that Powell is right when it comes to Kareem Ushad Sultan Khan and his service to this country you claim to love. So just stop it.


Photograph: Platon

Update: Powell talked to reporters outside his interview on Meet the Press and added some more good points. Steve Benen has video; here’s a highlight:

He went on to express his disgust for Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) neo-McCarthyism. “We have got to stop this kind of nonsense,” Powell said, “pull ourselves together, and remember that our great strength is in our unity and in our diversity.”

Watch as the ladies of The View press John McCain on issues the mainstream press has ignored.

More clips here. They call him out on abortion and the separation of church and state. He can’t come up with anything that will satisfy them.

Cheers to the women of The View! For doing the job that no one in the mainstream media has done. Calling out the lies, following-up, insisting on clear answers, and telling it like it is.

The Bush administration is proposing that recipients of federal health money be required to sign written certifications that they will not discriminate against applicants who are morally opposed to abortion and birth control. Read the complete NY Times article here.

In the proposal, obtained by The New York Times, the administration says it could cut off federal aid to individuals or entities that discriminate against people who object to abortion on the basis of ‘religious beliefs or moral convictions.’

RH Reality Check points out that this proposal redefines pregnancy in such a way that it may cut off women’s access to forms of birth control used by 40% of women.

Up until now, the federal government followed the definition of pregnancy accepted by the American Medical Association and our nation’s pregnancy experts, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which is: pregnancy begins at implantation. With this proposal, however, HHS is dismissing medical experts and opting instead to accept a definition of pregnancy based on polling data. It now claims that pregnancy begins at some biologically unknowable moment (there’s no test to determine if a woman’s egg has been fertilized). Under these new standards there would be no way for a woman to prove she’s not pregnant. Thus, any woman could be denied contraception under HHS’ new science. The other rarely discussed issue here is whether hormonal contraception even does what the religious right claims. There is no scientific evidence that hormonal methods of birth control can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. This argument is the basis upon which the religious right hopes to include the 40% of the birth control methods Americans use, such as the pill, the patch, the shot, the ring, the IUD, and emergency contraception, under the classification “abortion.” Even the “pro-life” movement’s most respected physicians cautioned the movement about making these claims.

And the result of these changes? Reduced access for low-income women.

Mary Jane Gallagher, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, which represents providers, said, ‘The proposed definition of abortion is so broad that it would cover many types of birth control, including oral contraceptives and emergency contraception.’

‘We worry that under the proposal, contraceptive services would become less available to low-income and uninsured women,’ Ms. Gallagher said.

Indeed, among other things the proposal expresses concern about state laws that require hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims who request it.

Nancy Keenan, president of Naral Pro-Choice America, said, ‘Why on earth is the Bush administration trying to discourage doctors and clinics from providing contraception to women who need it?’ (NY Times)

Even the global gag rule has exceptions for the case of rape. This new domestic gag rule appears even more severe. The majority of this country supports the Supreme Court’s decision about Roe v Wade, more people identify as ‘pro-choice’ than not, so why is this administration injecting its narrow religious views into the field of medicine? Stop withholding money from organizations that provide necessary health care to women and families based politics and ideology.


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