Conservative media viciously attacked Texas State Senator Wendy Davis after she announced her candidacy for governor, linking Davis to infanticide and calling an image of her with kids "sick" and "disgusting."
Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner urged Christians to oppose the Affordable Care Act on the false pretext that the law will fund abortions, which he likened to genocide. In reality, taxpayer money will not fund abortion coverage for members of Congress under the Affordable Care Act.
In his October 3 column, Kuhner falsely claimed that "members of Congress and their staff are allowed to now receive U.S. taxpayer funds to get an abortion." He then proceeded to liken abortion to genocide and condemn liberalism as "responsible for more deaths than Nazism or Soviet communism" in the wake of Roe v. Wade:
Christians need to engage in peaceful civil disobedience against President Obama's signature health care law. The reason is simple and macabre: Obamacare enables U.S. taxpayer funds to pay for abortions for members of Congress and their staff. That's right. Pro-life Christians will be forced to subsidize the slaughter of unborn children.
This should come as no surprise. Progressivism is at war with traditional Christianity. Liberals seek to create a society without God. Their goal is personal liberation -- the destruction of the family, Christian culture and all the other social bonds that act as bulwarks against radical individualism. Abortion clinics are liberalism's Gulag Archipelago, death camps scattered across the landscape. For liberals, abortion is key to erecting a society without sexual consequences. If a pregnancy is unwanted, liquidate the baby. Secular progressives believe that nothing -- including innocent human life -- must stand in the way of the sexual revolution. It is genocide masquerading as "choice."
Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, more than 50 million unborn babies have been butchered. Hence, abortion has taken more lives than murderous dictators, such as Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin. Liberalism is responsible for more deaths than Nazism or Soviet communism.
Contrary to Kuhner's claim, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) ruled that members of Congress and their staffers purchasing health insurance coverage on the new health insurance exchanges would be able to purchase a plan that includes abortion coverage but only with their own personal contribution to premium costs. No federal funds "will be used to cover abortions or to administer plans that cover abortions." Kuhner, like other right-wing media figures, misrepresented the ruling to falsely accuse President Obama of lying when he promised that no government funds would pay for abortions.
From the October 1 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Right-wing media falsely claimed a finalized rule shows that taxpayer money will fund abortion coverage for members of Congress under the new health care law, when the ruling clearly states individuals will have to pay for any abortion coverage with their own money and no federal funds will cover the procedure.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) ruled that members of Congress and their staffers purchasing health insurance coverage on the new health insurance exchanges, which opened for enrollment October 1, would be able to purchase a plan that includes abortion coverage but only with their own personal contribution to premium costs. Right-wing media instead falsely claimed taxpayer subsidies for the new health insurance plans would fund the medical procedures. A Drudge Report headline "Feds approve taxpayer subsidies for abortion coverage" linked to a Washington Times article that further pushed the false claim that the new ruling broke federal law on abortion funding.
Mark Levin similarly got the ruling wrong on his September 30 radio show, reading the Drudge Report headline and falsely claiming that President Obama had lied when he promised no government funds would pay for abortions.
But the OPM clearly stated September 30 that no federal funds "will be used to cover abortions or to administer plans that cover abortions," and that the ruling is legal because the OPM will ensure any plan that administers the procedures will be paid for by the individual and not a government contribution:
Coverage of Abortion Services
Under OPM's final rule, no Federal funds, including administrative funds, will be used to cover abortions or administer plans that cover abortions. Unlike the health plans for which OPM contracts pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8902, 8903 and 8903a, OPM does not administer the terms of the health benefits plans offered on an Exchange. Consequently, while plans with such coverage may be offered on an Exchange, OPM can and will take appropriate administrative steps to ensure that the cost of any such coverage purchased by a Member of Congress or a congressional staffer from a designed SHOP is accounted for and paid by the individual rather than from a government contribution, consistent with the general prohibition on Federal funds being used for this purpose.
The lie that the Affordable Care Act will provide federal funds for abortion has been promoted by right-wing media for years, despite the lack of any evidence. The administration has made clear that even federal grants to health care providers cannot be used to fund abortion services.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (joined by a coterie of Senate Republicans) spoke on the Senate floor for about 21 hours in opposition to funding the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare." Cruz's speech was not a filibuster, it had to end before today's scheduled vote on the Senate's bill to continue funding the government, and was never a threat to derail legislation that was passed and signed into law three years ago.
As such, much of the media coverage of Cruz's speech has focused on the political circus Cruz has whipped up. Since he couldn't actually alter the legislative process and has few supporters on either side of the aisle, it's not unreasonable to think that Cruz is doing this for his own benefit. Washington Examiner political writer Timothy Carney has sensed this tone in the media coverage of Cruz's fake filibuster and sounds the familiar "LIBERAL BIAS" klaxon, arguing that Texas state senator Wendy Davis' (D) filibuster to halt passage of a restrictive anti-abortion rights bill this past summer was similar to Cruz's but "the media spin was different."
The circumstances surrounding Cruz's and Davis' speeches, however, are pretty different. "Davis's filibuster was no more likely than Cruz's to change the law," Carney wrote. Perhaps so, but Davis' filibuster was an extraordinary measure taken in response to extraordinary measures deployed by Gov. Rick Perry and the Republican-dominated legislature. Davis' filibuster came at the end of a special legislative session convened by Perry specifically to pass the abortion law, and after it failed to pass Perry had to call yet another special session to pass the bill, and a third after that to deal with the business the legislature couldn't attend to because it was wrapped up in the abortion debate. Cruz was operating within the regular business of the Senate and there was a hard deadline on how long he could continue.
Politically, Davis' filibuster became a flashpoint in the national abortion debate because it split activists along the well-established lines, and abortion rights supporters worked doggedly to elevate Davis' profile while opponents worked to marginalize her. It also helped to highlight the intense state-level fights over abortion rights that had not registered on the national media's radar. With Cruz, that dynamic doesn't exist. He has a few supporters in the Senate, and most Republicans -- including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn -- aren't backing him. Even the Wall Street Journal editorial board dismissed his anti-Obamacare campaign with more than a whiff of contempt: "The supposedly intrepid General Cruz can view the battle from the comfort of HQ while the enlisted troops take any casualties."
And Cruz is relitigating a fight that has long since been resolved. Most of the country already knows of and has an opinion of Obamacare. It was a central theme of the 2012 election and the guy who was for it won easily. The only thing Ted Cruz has brought to the table is Ted Cruz. Steve Benen put it just right: "Cruz seems to be generating quite a few headlines for himself. But as a qualitative matter, was Davis' speech a more important, consequential, and impressive display? I don't consider it a close call."
Right-wing media have mischaracterized the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision that requires certain preventive health care services be included in employer-provided health insurance at no cost as a violation of the religious freedoms of corporations who object to contraception. In reality, this mandate, currently before the Supreme Court, accommodates religious employers' First Amendment rights without allowing secular, for-profit corporations to skirt federal law, and there is no legal precedent that gives corporations the right to exercise religious freedom.
Obsessed with an uncontroversial 2007 academic article she wrote on reproductive rights, National Review Online continues to smear judicial nominee Cornelia Pillard, whose approval vote before the Senate Judiciary Committee is today.
Nominated to the second-most important court in the nation, Pillard should be voted out of committee on her way to a Senate confirmation vote based on her stellar qualifications for the U.S. Court of Appeals. Because of right-wing media attacks started by National Review Online and repeated almost verbatim by GOP Senators on the committee, the vote is expected to be straight down party lines.
In anticipation of the vote, last night the editorial board of the NRO regurgitated the same smears.
Pivoting off of a sliver of her academic work while misrepresenting it, right-wing media have attacked Pillard for her mainstream support of family planning, comprehensive sex education, and overall adherence to established sex equality law.
Right-wing media have been so desperate to pretend her legal writings are "extreme" that not only have they dismissed the inconvenient fact that half of the Supreme Court agreed with her perspectives on reproductive rights and abortion, but her invocation of the relevance of "sex stereotypes" that NRO and others like Tony Perkins condemn was endorsed by arch-conservative former Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
But the attacks are not really about Pillard.
Rather, they are a reflection of how much the right-wing apparently loathes the decades-long development of sex equality under Fourteenth Amendment law. Make no mistake- most of these Pillard smears have nothing to do with fidelity to precedent. Right-wing media like NRO apparently desire nominees who don't support civil rights precedent.
Cornelia "Nina" Pillard is President Obama's pick for one of three vacant seats on the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia Circuit. She is a well-respected professor at Georgetown Law School; co-director of its Supreme Court Institute; a former lawyer at the ACLU, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the Justice Department; and a successful Supreme Court litigator.
She is also a "feminist."
A "feminist" insofar as she has spent part of her career advocating for women's equality (including a successful brief challenging the men-only admissions policy at the Virginia Military Institute, and a successful challenge to gender-biased family leave policies). Pillard's "radical feminism" appears largely to take the form of seeking equality for women, which would certainly be a disqualifying feature of her advocacy work. If it were 1854.
National Review Online attacked "contemporary progressivism" because it is "led by radical lawyers," a dubious proposition that ignores the fact that the right-wing legal movement is currently attempting to overturn decades of Supreme Court precedent.
Without any acknowledgment of the recent wave of conservative challenges to long-standing law that underpins the successes of the New Deal and the civil rights movement, NRO condemned progressives for approaching the legal profession "as a kind of revolutionary instrument." From NRO:
Perhaps the most alarming fact about contemporary progressivism is that it is a movement led by radical lawyers. The use of the law to undermine our constitutional tradition is in effect the use of the law to undermine itself. But worse than that, it is the use of the legal profession as a kind of revolutionary instrument. That is a particular problem because the legal profession has always had a special role in the Anglo-American common law tradition as precisely an anti-revolutionary instrument--a repository of cautionary precedent and prudent mulishness. "The English or the American lawyer inquires into what has been done, the French lawyer into what one ought to wish to do," Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1835.
As the more nuanced essay that NRO relied on noted, organizations like the NAACP did in fact have to challenge racist precedent in order to overthrow Jim Crow, a form of "radical lawyer[ing]" that has inspired practitioners since.
What the NRO failed to acknowledge, however, is that if challenging "what has been done" is "undermin[ing] our constitutional tradition," it is contemporary conservatism that is currently taking its turn, with its relentless assault on modern constitutional law.
Spurred on by right-wing media, the conservative legal movement has steadily increased its challenges to established precedent on topics ranging from the ability of the federal government to regulate the economy, the protection of the right to vote from racial discrimination, the ability for workers to effectively advocate, access to justice for plaintiffs other than well-funded corporations, prohibitions on the corruptive influence of money on elections, the ability of the country to offer equal opportunity in education for all, and the president's centuries-old power to appoint officials during recesses, just to name a few.
And then, of course, there is abortion.
(Photo by Flickr user peacearena)
National Review Online is downplaying the seriousness of an Oklahoma law currently before the Supreme Court that forces doctors to ignore safe and accepted medical practice when prescribing the drug RU-486 for medication abortions.
In response to a New York Times blog by legal expert Linda Greenhouse highlighting Oklahoma's appeal of a state supreme court decision that held its new restrictions on the use of RU-486 blatantly violated reproductive rights precedent, the NRO accused Greenhouse of "put[ting Supreme Court Justice Anthony] Kennedy on notice of how he will be treated by the liberal media if he doesn't toe their line in this term's controversial cases." From NRO:
[The case from Oklahoma, Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice,] gives the Court the opportunity to clarify the ambiguous "undue burden" test Casey [v. Planned Parenthood, a 1992 Supreme Court case that allowed states to impose restrictions on access to abortion as long as they did not create an "undue burden" on women] applied to regulations of abortion. Given Kennedy's affection for Casey, there is little likelihood the Court would use this opportunity to overturn that decision, but it could give some a content to the characteristically amorphous standard conceived by Kennedy, Souter, and O'Connor in their plurality opinion. And, from my perspective at least, it seems evident that only an incredibly broad reading of "undue burden" would suffice to overturn the Oklahoma law. After all, it simply adopts the determination of the FDA and still leaves ample other methods of abortion open to women.
But in discussing the Supreme Court's decision to review Cline, NRO fails to mention that in order to "adopt the determination of the FDA," doctors will have to follow guidelines that most consider to be woefully outdated.
As Congress returns from summer recess, right-wing media are once again helping obstruct President Barack Obama's nominees to the critical U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Picking up where it left off, National Review Online is continuing its attacks on Georgetown Law Professor Cornelia "Nina" Pillard because of her purportedly wild-eyed academic writings on sex equality law, a mainstream part of American constitutional jurisprudence for decades.
Having seemingly failed to convince anyone beyond GOP Senators like Ted Cruz - who repeated NRO's talking points during Pillard's confirmation hearing - the NRO has now resorted to accusing Pillard of "false and deceptive" misrepresentations of one of these law review articles.
Specifically, NRO claims to know the true meaning of the article's words better than the author who wrote them, confidently concluding Pillard's law review piece was not academic, but rather an "ideologue['s]" manifesto of "extremism." From NRO:
In short, contrary to her testimony, Pillard wasn't playing the disinterested academic and merely identifying "the argument that one would make to make [her equal-protection challenge] amenable" to judicial resolution. Rather, she was affirmatively advocating the argument.[emphasis original]
In short, NRO is quibbling over whose paraphrase and characterization of a 53-page academic article was more correct during the hearing.
The Associated Press reported that Clear Channel has lifted the ban they previously imposed on ads for a women's health clinic for its stations in Wichita, Kansas.
Media Matters reported on July 26 that the Trust Women Foundation (TWF), which runs the South Wind Women's Center in Wichita, confirmed that two radio ads for the clinic were pulled from local Clear Channel FM stations one day after their initial broadcast. TWF was reportedly told that the ads had been pulled due to complaints to the station, but at least four other radio and print outlets in Wichita ran similar ads for the Center with no report of complaints.
The Center operates in the same location where Dr. George Tiller had operated his own clinic. Tiller, who was the target of both an intense campaign of demagoguery by conservative media and a campaign of terrorist violence by anti-abortion extremists for his willingness to perform abortions in a state where such services are scarce, was shot to death in a Wichita church in May 2009.
In response to the ban, non-profit group Women, Action and The Media posted a statement reportedly issued by Wichita Clear Channel's General Manager Rob Burton which said, "KZSN has a responsibility to use our best judgment to ensure that advertising topics and content are as non-divisive as possible for our local audience." Burton's statement was surprising given that Clear Channel's affiliate syndicates Rush Limbaugh, who has a long history of divisive and hateful rhetoric on women's health.
The AP's August 27 report noted that Clear Channel "reversed course as supporters of the South Wind Women's Center prepared to deliver a petition Wednesday with 68,000 signatures," and that "based on a 'thoughtful discussion' with the clinic, Clear Channel said it made sense to take a closer look at the criteria it uses to determine whether an advertisement should air."
Conservative media have championed the recent spate of state-restrictions on women's constitutional right to abortion access as necessary to protect women's health. But a new report reveals the heavy toll the laws have taken on women's health clinics around the country.
After the 2010 midterm elections, state legislatures passed a record number of restrictions on abortion, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Twenty-four states enacted 92 provisions restricting access to abortion services, a number which tripled the former record set in 2005. The next year, 2012, was the second-highest year on record for new abortion restrictions, with 19 states passing 43 provisions limiting women's access.
Fox News and conservative media championed this flood of abortion restrictions, claiming the measures are necessary to protect women's health and denying that the laws would affect women's access to clinics. In June, Fox contributors Kirsten Powers and Monica Crowley claimed that reproductive rights groups' fears over Texas' infamous SB5 bill -- predicted to force most of the state's clinics to close -- were exaggerated and "ridiculous," because, as Powers stated, "I don't think that many clinics are going to close."
But according to a nationwide analysis released August 26 by the Huffington Post, at least 54 abortion providers in 27 states have closed their doors or ended abortion services since 2010, and "several more clinics are only still open because judges have temporarily blocked legislation that would make it difficult for them to continue to operate." The report found that the states which enacted severe new abortion restrictions and slashed funding planning funding also lost the most clinics -- Texas has lost nine clinics, or more than 20 percent of the state's total abortion facilities.
The state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute explained to Huffington Post that this level of clinic closures is "incredibly dramatic." She went on, "What we've been seeing since 1982 was a slow decline, but this kind of change ... [is] so different from what's happened in the past."
Rather than protecting women's health, these new restrictions -- and the striking number of clinic closures they force -- place women in severe danger. Requiring women to travel long distances in order to exercise their constitutional right to abortion means procedures will often be delayed, which puts women's health in jeopardy.
From the August 22 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Fox host Shannon Bream and correspondent Molly Henneberg continued Fox's relentless campaign to demonize Planned Parenthood and stoke fears about their participation in an initiative to expand health insurance. Bream and Henneberg dishonestly linked abortion with federal funds going to Planned Parenthood to cover federal funds helping enroll Americans in health insurance.
On the August 22 edition of America Live, Bream proclaimed there was "outrage over a new plan to give federal money to Planned Parenthood," and concluded that "critics are upset that the government wants to give funds to clinics that also provide abortions." Henneberg brought up the irrelevant red herring that Planned Parenthood is "the largest abortion provider in the country":
Despite Henneberg's dishonest attempt to tie the funding to abortion, the purpose of the navigators is to provide "'fair, impartial and accurate information that assists consumers with submitting the eligibility application, clarifying distinctions among [qualified health plans] and helping qualified individuals make informed decisions during the health plan selection process.'"
Henneberg then attempted to portray the funds as a broken promise by the president by claiming Obama said "no federal dollars that fund Obamacare would go to abortion providers." As The Daily Beast's Amanda Marcotte notes, this is a blatant falsehood:
Well, if you're watching Fox, you'd think it's apocalyptic. Right-wing radio host Mike Gallagher acted like there was nothing more outrageous than a public health clinic getting involved in a program that helps people get better access to health care. "I always try to anticipate what my friends on the left will possibly say to try to defend this egregious about-face," he chuckled on Fox. The "about-face" is a reference to the overt lie underpinning this entire campaign against Planned Parenthood, which is the conservative claim that Obama somehow promised that Planned Parenthood as an entity would not get any federal funding under the Affordable Care Act. Obama made no such promise. He signed an executive order disallowing abortion to be covered in health-care plans sold on the exchange, but signing people up for health care should not be equated with giving them abortions or even giving them plans that cover abortion. That's like saying the Department of Motor Vehicles is casting your ballot for you by giving you the opportunity to register to vote--an outright and inflammatory lie.
Fox even read a statement by Planned Parenthood Vice President Eric Ferrero, who assured that the grants "have nothing to do with abortion and won't be used for abortion services," which would fulfill Obama's promise.
Planned Parenthood is one of 105 groups to receive federal funds under the Affordable Care Act to aid in enrolling Americans in health insurance. According to The Hill, "organizations on the other side of the ideological spectrum also received grants," including Ascension Health, the nation's largest Catholic and non-profit health system, and Catholic Social Services, an arm of the Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama.
A review of letters to Congress from dozens of state health departments and attorneys general around the country revealed that abortion in the United States is safe and well-regulated, despite recent media reports to the contrary.
Following the conviction of Kermit Gosnell for the murder of three infants during unsafe medical practices that bore no resemblance to legal abortion procedures, congressional Republicans launched an inquiry into how states monitor and regulate abortion, writing letters to the departments of health and attorneys general in all 50 states asking for details regarding criminal laws, prosecutions, inspections of abortion clinics, and regulations relating to abortion at the state level.
The pro-choice group RH Reality Check reviewed the responses from 38 of the state attorneys general and 31 of the health departments and found that they provide the "most comprehensive picture to date of the reality of abortion services," confirming that "abortion in the United States is highly regulated and overwhelmingly safe":
The responses received to date include thousands of pages of legislation and regulations on a wide range of topics that could relate to abortion. They contain definitions of "ambulatory surgical clinics," criminal statutes addressing feticide and the failure to provide medical care to newborns, and the minutiae of how state health officials must conduct inspections of clinics where abortions are performed. Some states also provided samples of the forms, such as the surveys that clinic inspectors have to fill in as they conduct their visits of abortion facilities, as well as samples of the application forms for facilities wishing to provide abortions. As an indication of how voluminous some of these responses are, Pennsylvania's response ran to 1,250 pages.
An analysis of these documents shows that congressional Republicans will find no support for their arguments in favor of new restrictions on abortion care in the evidence presented by the states. In particular, to the extent that anti-choice advocates claim that women are being put at risk by abortion services, these documents--from the very state entities charged with overseeing and regulating abortion--show the contrary. They show that abortion in the United States is highly regulated and overwhelmingly safe.
In particular, the responses revealed that abortion facilities nationwide are routinely inspected and subject to onerous regulation.
The findings of this congressional survey undermine the media's recent narrative that abortion requires even greater regulation and restriction. NBC, CNN, and Fox News hosts have all hyped the claim that an unconstitutional ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy would be "reasonable." Writers for The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have falsely claimed individual bans on 20-week abortions are popularly supported, and have glossed over the realities of these bills, which could place women and their fetus' health in severe danger. With the exception of a unique segment on MSNBC, media reports on abortion restrictions have largely ignored women's health experts who confirm these unnecessary restrictions will put women's health at risk.
Furthermore, media figures at The National Review, Washington Post, The Weekly Standard, and elsewhere have insisted that the case of Kermit Gosnell is representative of later-term abortions in the U.S., when in fact according to these documents, the Gosnell case was the only reported instance of an illegal "born alive" procedure.
Media Matters has previously noted that despite the fact that abortion is regulated at unprecented levels, with the vast majority of U.S. counties already lacking access to abortion providers, state lawmakers have proposed hundreds of new bills to further limit women's access to safe and legal abortion services. Some of these restrictions have already been struck down, with Bloomberg reporting that state legislatures suffered "a 0-for-8 losing streak after court challenges" reaffirmed that bans on abortion after six, 12, and 20 weeks of pregnancy are unconstitutional under the Supreme Court's rulings that a woman has a right to an abortion up until fetal viability.
The evidence from the congressional inquiry confirms all of these findings: abortion is already safe and well-regulated, despite what lawmakers and the media might say.