Un-Reality TV

If you’re looking for an escape from reality, check out how television treats abortion–because it has even less relationship to real life than Game of Thrones, Westworld, or Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

As shown in a recent study from the reproductive health research organization Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, abortions on TV result in serious complications 42.5% of the time. That’s more than 20 times the rate of health problems that occur during real life abortion procedures. And it gets even more unreal: 5% of abortion patients on TV die–6,850 times the actual mortality rate for abortion procedures!! In 80 abortion plots that aired between 2005 and 2016, four characters died. In the much-safer real world, 0.00073 percent of abortion patients die.

And yeah, we’re talking about fiction, we know. But these radically skewed numbers have consequences. As an article in Slate discussing the findings put it, “TV shows that turn a routine medical service into a life-threatening risk are shaping the way millions of Americans imagine a procedure they know very little about.”

For instance: a Vox poll showed that 68% of respondents disagreed that abortion is “very safe.” In fact, it’s safer than giving birth–but only 19% of people knew that. Only 9 percent know that abortion is safer than a colonoscopy.

In 2015, ABC’s Scandal broke the mold by showing Olivia Pope actually undergoing a routine and safe abortion procedure. But in real life, the drama around abortion involves the struggle to get one.

Despite the dangers of abortions in TV-land, actually getting an abortion on the small screen is a cakewalk compared to what people have to go through in real life. A study in Feminism & Psychology found that on TV, “obstacles to abortion access are shown as easily overcome.” TV shows routinely “communicate that abortion is relatively easy to access.” Tell that to residents of Kentucky, who are desperately fighting to keep their last abortion clinic open.

Help LPJL spread the facts about abortion, so that we can appreciate the fiction for what it is.

Dial “M” for “Mordor”

Mordor is on the march!

Here LPJL we’ve been trying to keep you informed about the dark forces being mustered by the gathering Trump administration using the handle “Sauron’s Army.”  Well this week Senate confirmation hearings are being held on the first batch of these monsters.

Senate Republicans under the Turtle Lord Mitch McConnell are trying to ramrod Trump’s nominees through the confirmation process without giving the Office of Government Ethics time to properly review them. Maybe the swamp creatures that Trump is populating his administration with haven’t been properly vetted, but they’ve been exposed to anyone who cares to look.

First out of the shit-chute is Attorney General nominee Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III–a man named after not one, but two secessionist traitors who took up arms against the United States. We nailed him as the Witch-King of Angmar, Lord of the Nazgul. For those of you not versed in Tolkien-speak, he’s a major asshole.

Jeff doesn’t think that grabbing a woman by her genitals falls under the definition of sexual assault. He opposed the Violence Against Women Act. And his vitriolic opposition to abortion earned him a lifetime 0 rating from NARAL and a slot co-chairing the 40th anniversary bash for Americans United For Life.

This is where you come in, virtuous creatures of Middle Earth. Get on your Hobbit-phones or the Elvish-net or whatever else functions as social media in the realms of Endor. Put the Senate Republicans on notice that you won’t allow these hearings to be a mockery of the term “confirmation.” And help bolster the resolve of Democratic Senators to keep the heat on. Even if they don’t have the votes to sink these nominations, they can hold them up to scrutiny that will make it harder to put their anti-woman agenda into action.

It’s on. Time to cry bloody Mordor.

Pillory Supporters

The weird thing about Donald Trump is that, despite the fact that he and his trog-mob live in a bizarre shit-castle of lies, every once in awhile they accidentally expose a fundamental but buried truth.

Trump’s eruption like a pus-swollen pimple on the face of modern America has laid bare this often ignored truism–opposition to abortion rights isn’t about helping the “unborn,” or God knows, women. It’s about punishing women–for having sex without meaning to procreate, for having the brass to demand control over their own bodies, and for having a uterus in the first place.

In a new survey, 39 percent of self-identified Trump voters said that women should be punished for seeking abortions. They were just parroting the statement of Trump himself, who during the campaign said that women who seek an abortion should suffer “some form of punishment.” (Perhaps a stern pussy-grabbing would be in order!)

All of that flies in the face of the official dogma of anti-choice nutwaddery, which for propaganda purposes holds that only abortion providers should be punished. Women who want abortions are duped victims of those demonic doctors, not citizens exercising their rights.

Of course it’s balls-out hypocrisy to cry that abortion is murder and not to indict the person arranging and paying for the “crime.” (That goes double since anti-abortion crazies force women to such extraordinary efforts to gain access to abortion. These women are some truly motivated murder-for-hire conspirators!)

Despite his subsequent walk-back of his “punishment” statement, Trump undoubtedly truly does favor some sort of punishment for women–not because he has any sincere opposition to abortion, but simply because he hates women. And I’m sure the same is true of a good chunk of the 39 percent of Trumpists who want to punish those women seeking abortions.

Trump himself may be coated in a quarter inch of Cheetos dust, but ironically, he has exposed the true face of the anti-abortion movement.

Department of Labor Pain: Meat the New Boss.

In our new Play of the Day series “Sauron’s Army” Lady Parts Justice League explores the key players Donald Trump has chosen to surround himself with: his advisors and the people being appointed to his cabinet, all of whom have a deep of history of being strongly anti-choice.

Andy Puzder

Position in Sauron’s Army: Fast Food Nazgul, AKA “Onion Ring-Wraith.”

Donald Trump’s prick, er pick, for Labor Secretary is fast food kingpin Andy Puzder. Good ol’ Andy promises to be a real pain to workers AND especially to women. He’s spent his career trying to keep both down, including working directly to overturn Roe v Wade.

The Puz’s opposition to a decent minimum wage and to overtime pay is legendary. He famously extolled the virtues of machines over human employees by saying  “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”

Equally notorious is Puzder’s penchant for pushing his product with sexist ads that are virtual burger porn. “We believe in putting hot models in our commercials, because ugly ones don’t sell burgers” Puz said in 2011. Just last year he was still on it: “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.” GREAT AGAIN!

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But he doesn’t just have his greasy, fingers in your paycheck— before he was fighting to keep wages at obscene levels, he was also a lawyer for anti-abortion extremists who were often thrown in jail for harassing women. In fact, Puz loved defending women haters SO MUCH, back in 1989, he helped write Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, the restrictive Missouri abortion law that imposed restrictions on the use of state funds, facilities, and employees in performing, assisting with, or counseling on abortion (which was upheld by the Supreme Court.) That law is part of a long-term strategy to undermine Roe v. Wade, as Puzder boasted 27 years ago.  “It is designed to make the Supreme Court face the question of deciding whether a state can decide when life exists.”

Now, thanks to Trump, this pink slime pusher will be in a perfect position to keep women even more vulnerable by promoting draconian wage laws while influencing draconian abortion legislation, creating even more obstacles to economic freedom for poor women and women of color.

Abortion: Stories Women Tell

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At Lady Parts Justice League, we’re all about letting women’s voices be heard. Several of those voices are heard quite movingly in a new documentary that you should definitely check out.

Friday, August 12th will see the nationwide theatrical release of the Abortion: Stories Women Tell from Emmy-winning filmmaker Tracy Dros Tragos. The HBO-produced film takes a look at the roadblocks to abortion access in Tragos’ home state of Missouri. More importantly, it examines the issue through the real life experiences of several women whose abortion stories are compelling and important.

97% of counties in Missouri have no abortion provider–there is only one abortion clinic in the entire state. And the long distances women must travel for abortion access are compounded by the 72-hour waiting period required by the state along with mandatory counseling. LPJL has been highlighting the impact of those kinds of restrictive abortion rules on women–this movie gets you up close and personal with many of the women themselves.

Tragos interviewed 81 women and 32 of them have their stories told in this film. Women are shown being forced to travel for hours to obtain an abortion across the state line in Illinois. You get to see a real person going through the hassles with work, childcare, and overnight stays that these abortion laws impose on women, and the impact is riveting.

We meet a single mother of two who is already working two full-time jobs as a waitress and bartender to support her family. She can’t afford to have another child. But thanks to Missouri laws, she has to travel 400 miles on two separate occasions and face hostile protesters at the clinic in order to spend $525 that she doesn’t have in order to terminate her pregnancy. Seeing her struggle makes all the talk about legislation suddenly very real.

The film features women from across the entire spectrum of views about abortion, including an older woman who takes a leadership role in the anti-abortion movement. Tragos treats everyone with dignity and respect. The result is a fully rounded look at abortion, told through the stories that women tell. It’s impossible to hear those stories without being convinced of the need for choice.

Click here for an episode of the Repro Madness podcast featuring Abortion: Stories Women Tell director Tracy Dros Tragos and Dr. Erin King.

The Perfect Swarm

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Conservative lawmakers in states like Texas and Florida, who have spent many years swatting at reproductive rights like so many pesky mosquitos, may have now opened the door for a mosquito-borne public health disaster.

A new article in Kaiser Health News lays out the facts that the very states where the Zika virus is expected to hit first and hardest–Florida and Texas–are among the least prepared to deal with the outbreak. And the blame lies squarely on the decimation of women’s health services that has been caused by crusades in those states against abortion rights.

The Zika virus has relatively mild symptoms for adults but can cause severe birth defects if it infects a pregnant woman. At the beginning of the year, LPJL reported that the reaction of socially conservative and backward Third World regimes to the Zika epidemic did not bode well for what would happen when the virus hits places in the US with socially conservative and backward regimes… like Florida and Texas.

Years of right wing pandering to anti-abortion crusaders has created a perfect storm of conditions ripe to allow the Zika virus to cause thousands of preventable birth defects. Congressional conservatives have been painfully slow to provide funding to battle the crisis. And the situation in the Zika beachhead states of Florida and Texas is dire.

In Texas especially, TRAP laws have shut half the women’s clinics in the state. Those clinics are vital sources of information and resources for birth control, which is the number one way of preventing Zika-caused birth defects. And, of course, the entire concept of birth control has been under constant attack from the American mullahs.

The clinic closures, along with chronic underfunding for women’s healthcare, prevent many women from obtaining vital pre-natal care which could help to stop the spread of Zika. Finally, the Republican mania for destroying Obamacare has caused many state governments to turn down expanded Medicaid funds, leaving many low-income women needlessly without recourse to health care

It goes without saying that the biggest victims in the path of this perfect storm are poor and minority women who rely more heavily on the very reproductive resources that conservatives have been so ruthlessly plundering.

Urge our leaders to battle Zika in the most effective manner–by funding and supporting quality reproductive care. Don’t let anti-choice ignorance cause even more damage than it’s already designed to do.

Setting Traps

pablo (8)The thing about being an asshole is that you don’t really have to be very good at it. If your whole goal is just to screw things up for other people you don’t need a lot of skills–just a lot of anger and assholery.

In Texas, anti-abortion forces have marshalled their considerable anger and assholery to create a shit-show of TRAP laws designed to put the right to an abortion effectively out of the reach of most women. Even though they are the legislative equivalents of turds in the punchbowl of constitutional rights, these TRAP laws have created a nightmarish environment of painful uncertainty for abortion providers.

Sometime soon this summer, the Supreme Court will rule on the Constitutionality of those Texas TRAP laws in the case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. In the meantime, Amy Hagstrom Miller of Whole Woman’s Health says that the wait for the Supreme Court to rule has put a “tremendous strain” on abortion providers throughout the state.

Even if justice prevails and the Texas TRAP laws are struck down–and that’s a highly iffy proposition–the TRAPs have already done terrible damage. Since they were instituted in 2013, over half of the abortion clinics in Texas have been shuttered. And those who have survived have done so only at tremendous cost.

A University of Texas study found that the Texas TRAP laws have caused longer waits for appointments at clinics, higher travel costs, and have thus forced women to have their abortions later in their pregnancy. And make no mistake–that’s exactly what these laws are designed to do–to create hassles that impede the ability of the clinics to function.

Amy Hagstrom Miller said “We’ve had to try to figure out how to keep our facilities open … and how to remain high quality abortion providers and endure the onerous restrictions. We’re looking forward to ending the era of uncertainty.”

That’s because these laws are all about creating uncertainty. The laws don’t have to be elegant or well-crafted or, God knows, constitutional. All they have to do is create confusion which leads to fear. The Texas TRAP laws force abortion providers to comply with a thicket of rules meant to do nothing more than to be impossible to follow. These are laws that are literally meant to be broken… as a pretext to shutting down those clinics that can’t meet the absurd requirements.

Don’t let abortion rights get TRAPped–stand with the clinics trying to combat the uncertainty of these unfair laws.

Oklahoma: Definitely Not OK

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Tired of anti-abortion lunatics chipping away at reproductive rights? Well it looks like they’ve finally stopped chipping…and decided to just blow through everything like a dirt-dumping Oklahoma dust storm.  

A bill in Oklahoma would revoke the license of any doctor who performs an abortion. Needless to say, that bill would have an impact on abortion rights–in the same sense that that iceberg had an impact on the Titanic. The difference between doing this and just flatout outlawing something that has been ruled a Constitutional right is nebulous at best.

Make no mistake–this bill is a virtual ban on abortion. No more fiddling around with TRAP laws and waiting periods. Oklahoma is set to impose an abortion waiting period of FOREVER!

Under this bill, doctors who perform abortions cannot obtain or renew their medical licenses. The bill would allow exceptions to save the mother’s life (thank you, Oklahoma!) but any doctor performing an abortion for a victim of rape or incest can kiss their medical license goodbye.

Abortion is defined in the bill as “unprofessional conduct,” a definition clearly at odds with other authorities, such as the AMA, and, oh, I don’t know… THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT.

The bill is currently sitting on Governor Mary Fallin’s desk, no doubt causing a severe stain. Opponents of the bill say that it’s unconstitutional. So does the Constitution. Yet despite that, it passed the Oklahoma House by a vote of 59-to-9. Presumably, when a judge makes the obvious call and rules this travesty is unconstitutional, Oklahoma will vote to revoke that judge’s law degree.

If you’re wondering how the Oklahoma State legislature could pass such a blatantly illegal law, Rep. David Brumbaugh, a supporter of the bill, put it best when he said “If we take care of morality, God will take care of the economy.” You don’t have to be a theologian or a lawyer to believe that God is best left to take care of morality, while Oklahoma’s elected officials would be better off taking care of the economy.