Saturday: Roe turns 38!

Thirty-eight years ago today the Supremes handed down Roe v. Wade.

It’s instructive to go further back and note that from the outset, the history of criminalizing abortion in the US has been rooted in a culture not of life but rather of No Profit Left Behind (via the link above): “Abortion itself only became a serious criminal offense in the period between 1860 and 1880. And the criminalization of abortion did not result from moral outrage. The roots of the new law came from the newly established physicians’ trade organization, the American Medical Association. Doctors decided that abortion practitioners were unwanted competition and went about eliminating that competition. The Catholic Church, which had long accepted terminating pregnancies before quickening, joined the doctors in condemning the practice.”

In addition to keeping score, I always keep in mind a Bill Clinton interview that went under the radar in 2009: “With all the fights in the world about abortion rights and choice and family planning and all that there is only one proven strategy that is not opposed by religious authorities—except some fanatics and cultural authorities—that slows the birthrate and raises per capita income. The only proven strategy is to put all the girls in the world in school.

On that note, let’s get this roundup started.

Hillaryland: When Hillary was in the Persian Gulf last week, she taped an interview with Kalam Nawaem–the Abu Dhabi version of The View. The UPI newswire ran the following headline after the show aired on Sunday: “Clinton calls women’s progress inevitable.” Here’s a full transcript.

I’ve gathered some clips, but I don’t want to bog down the rest of this roundup, so I’ll post the video treats in the comments. My favorite moment for now (hard to pick just one!):

Hillary with the women of Kalam Nawaem!

MODERATOR: That’s very interesting, Madam Secretary, and yet the Western media often depicts the Arab woman as oppressed, as having basically no human rights, as being uneducated. Why and how can we solve this problem? SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it comes from a lack of awareness or understanding that needs to be slowly but surely changed. And there – it’s one of the reasons why I very much appreciate the chance to do a program like this, because I have a lot of the American press with me and they look at the three of you, and maybe that breaks down some stereotypes. Maybe that begins to create what I know to be a much more comprehensive and complex view of women’s roles in this part of the world or in many parts of the world.”

Hillary understands that to lift up the world we have to not only lift up women and girls but that to truly lift up anyone we can’t parade around caricatures of helpless little women–we have to support each other in being our own best advocates and lifting ourselves up. Her approach is a stark contrast to the right-wing paternalism which seeks to selectively “champion” damsels in distress, for reasons other than empowering women.

Feminism–fiction vs. fact: Speaking of rightwingers who couldn’t care less about women or their rights, about a month ago, Real Clear Politics featured a video called “Feminism explained.” I wouldn’t advise clicking on it unless you’re a fan of annoying xtranormal animations and enjoy hearing a laundry list of every canard that’s already been thrown at a feminist. Deadbeat women’s orgs have made it all too easy for con-artists to skewer feminists in this fashion.

Fiction: Feminists don’t care about women! Fact: NOW, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood do not represent feminism or feminists but instead have become mere fundraising arms of the Democratic party, which itself is one of America’s two corporate arms (the GOP being the other)–a set of distinctions that the vast-right wing idiocy avoids making for obvious reasons.

Organizational otiosus? Once upon a time, NOW et al. helped get the fire started. Then they retired from the lowly world we inhabit only to drop back in sporadically and pass around the collection plate or remind us to tithe. (Perhaps the problem with NOW et al. is the more generalized conundrum of institutionalizing anything.)

From “ew, a feminazi!” to the C-Street takeover of feminism: For years, blowhards on the right have been capitalizing on the disconnect between the self-designated gatekeepers of feminism and the grassroot everyday feminists, turning feminism into the enemy. But, now conservative women are taking the opportunism one step further, trying to turn feminism into something it’s not (as dakinikat put it “Why oh why do people think they get to make up their own definitions?“).

What Would Alice Paul Do? As much as I think the right’s perversion of feminism deserves pushback, that chart I put up back in August still irks. The root of the problem is right there next to the Democratic position on “Right to Choose” — it’s that question mark next to “Support.”

Original sin: Feminist superdud (yes that's what he looks like, Ms. Magazine) signs a piece of paper that relegates women to second class status in Stupakistan.

Case-in-point: The introduction of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act this Thursday– or rather the *return* of Smith-Lipinski, as madamb presciently wrote about back in August. Wonk Room at ThinkProgress has an aptly titled response: Forget Jobs And Economy, GOP To Introduce Government-Expanding Abortion Measure As H.R. 3.” The problem with pinning this solely on the GOP, though, is that doing so omits everything the so-called Party of Women did to create the environment in which the GOP could even dare to push Stupakistan-Act IV in the middle of a persistent unemployment crisis.

Act I: Then-Speaker Pelosi cut a deal allowing Stupak-Pitts to be brought to a vote to secure the passage of a deeply flawed piece of healthcare legislation. Act II: President Obama ordered a “model set of segregation guidelines on women’s health.” Act III: Soon enough, mini-Stupaks erupted across the country (that’s a pdf link).

Not looking forward to Act V.

Of regressive progressives: Switching gears to discuss the Steve Cohen trainwreck briefly. I would simply like to remind everyone that Cohen was the creep who in May of 2008 used the movie Fatal Attraction as an analogy for Hillary’s primary campaign, saying “Glenn Close should have just stayed in the tub.”

Gloria Giffords, the congresswoman's mother, center, talks with her daughter during the flight from Tucson to Houston. Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, left, talks with Giffords nurse Tracy Culbert. (Office of Rep. Giffords)

A hometown update on Gabrielle Giffords: Gabby arrived here in Houston safe and sound! Video report of her doctors reacting, calling the transition “flawless,” by the Houston Chronicle. The chron’s Medical Center reporter Todd Ackerman has been doing some excellent work covering the TIRR facility over the past few days. Ackerman’s latest: “Houston rehab giant ready for Giffords.” I’ll put more in the comments for anyone who’s interested in local media reporting.

Click cover to go to the Amazon listing.

Bookworm: A recent piece in the Brattleboro Reformer takes a look at a new book about frontier feminist Clarina Nichols. Compare the present-day inanity of a bear growling at the end of a faux pioneer woman marketing ploy to the following:

Kathleen Sebelius: “Clarina Nichols was a single mother, abolitionist, women’s rights advocate and visionary, whose work paved the way for women to eventually become full citizens of the United States.” History of Woman Suffrage (published in 1887): “No woman in so many fields of action has more steadily and faithfully labored than Mrs. Nichols, as editor, speaker, teacher, farmer…” Here’s a woman whose “knowledge of the legal system would distinguish her in the women’s rights movement, leading one of its founders to observe that Clarina Nichols was ‘as conversant with the laws of her state as any judge or lawyer in it” (Revolutionary Heart, Eickhoff 2006).

Grizzlyfolk won’t learn any of that history by palling around with Glenn Beckistan, ahem.

Cinematherapy: First a tidbit about 20-year old Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame, from her interview in February’s Vogue (via yahoo) — “As it turns out, Kristen does have a plan for her newfound fortune (or at least, part of it) – she wants to set up a network of halfway houses to help those who are struggling get back on their feet – a cause Kristen saw first-hand while researching for a role as a runaway from a sex slave trafficking ring, according to Vogue. ‘That would be amazing,’ she continued. ‘Right now it’s the thing I feel most connected to.'”

Click poster to go to

Now for my movie pick: The Cake Eaters, a 2007 indie that Kirsten Stewart filmed before she became the epicenter of the campy Twilight series. Stewart’s rising star has helped the Cake Eaters find a wider audience as a little-indie-that-could. From the writer of the film who also starred as part of the ensemble cast: “The Cake Eaters is a term I grew up with in Pennsylvania. My mom used to use it to describe those who had it made, had their lives mapped out for them, where the most likely to succeed…’The Cake Eaters.’ I thought it was an interesting metaphor for this group of misfits who begin the story searching and longing for love, trying to overcome grief, and through the course of the story…find their ‘cake’. They find some love, happiness, peace… The title gets a lot of questions, it’s pretty controversial…and unforgettable.”

Oh, and this just breaking as I try to wrap up: Keith-O and MSNBC are O-V-E-R! (I can’t resist… MSNBC and Keith went into a room, and… Countdown got canceled.)

Dhanyavad for reading, and tag, you’re it! What headlines are you following this Saturday?

Originally published by Wonk the Vote at Let Them Listen. Crossposted at Liberal Rapture and Taylor Marsh.

27 Comments on “Saturday: Roe turns 38!”

  1. Dee says:

    Thanks for another great Saturday post. I am off to find/buy the Clarina Nichols book. I am a fifth – sixth generation Kansan. My mother died in 2008 and in the long process of going through her papers (what my sister and I now refer to as “the female family archives” ) we have discovered and learned so much about our female ancestors. Just one example – Our great grandmother was a founding member and the first woman allowed membership on the local Farmers Coop. How come no one told us?

    \We are working hard to add the women to the family narrative and have been joined by three female first cousins in the effort to do the research, find the graves, go through public records, and most importantly – add maiden names and trace out their family trees. IOWs – we are attempting to run up all the branches of our female ancestors that have previously been pretty much ignored.

    On another note – I Love Hillary Clinton

    • Fannie says:

      Dee, this is great. I have been shaking up the tree for many years. Good luck to you, and bring those women back to life, because they do matter. If you have any questions about research/sources feel free to ask.

    • Branjor says:

      Wow, fantastic. 😦 the women working to add the women to the family narrative. Because they just weren’t important enough to the men to be part of the family narrative. What great and fantastic “families.”

    • paper doll says:

      Dee, I’m thrilled you are bringing the female part of the family back into the story… you ( and they) will benefit from the story of their life, work and strength be told again…somehow they will know and be glad

    • Three cheers for Dee @ 9:39!

      Love “the female family archives.”

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Dee that is very cool!

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Lots of food for thought here Wonk. Thanks for this very meaty post. It took me awhile to work through it. Now to check out some of the links!

  3. Joanelle says:

    Wonk, what a great post! Thanks.

    Maybe one of you can enlighten me as to why I can no longer click on the Star to say I like the post. when I click on it – nothing happens, nada, bupkis, nyet.

  4. Woman Voter says:

    Wonk, boy, you got my mind working early with all the interesting reads. I want to thank you for this one:

    Act I: Then-Speaker Pelosi cut a deal allowing Stupak-Pitts to be brought to a vote to secure the passage of a deeply flawed piece of healthcare legislation. Act II: President Obama ordered a “model set of segregation guidelines on women’s health.” Act III: Soon enough, mini-Stupaks erupted across the country (that’s a pdf link).

    I must have received about 10 e-mails on ‘The Loss of Women’s Right to Choose’ , etc., but none, point out how we got here, as you have above. I replied to none of them, because if they won’t acknowledge WHO got us here, then they really don’t need help, because they can’t be truthful with themselves or want to re-write history and say the big boogie monster did it. I see that they want to make this a fund raising tool, but truth be told only Terry O’Neil, President of NOW, dared to challenge this, and was summarily silenced by the press not giving her any coverage. All the other orgs were silent…

    Pelosi, was the highest ranking woman in the US and she didn’t hold her ground, she helped the opposition to make a deal and then stood by in silence to see President Obama’s Stupak Executive Order being signed into law. So, the women’s orgs, first need to contact Pelosi and Obama and do some hard self examination, because I am not going to pretend I don’t know how we got here, with these Jane Crow reproductive care laws. Oh, and the press never points this out, which is a totally different rant… So, thanks for pointing out the facts.

    • You’re welcome and thanks! We really just need to get to the point where abortion is NOT part of the debate on healthcare and other public policy.

      I mean the way they treat abortion seriously makes me want to be a smartass left and right… e.g. is there a way to make sure the tax dollars that go toward helping soldiers don’t touch any dollars that go toward violence+untruth? Some of us have serious moral objections to violence+untruth but we want our troops well taken care of!

      You just can’t run a society “segregating” everything like that. Everything would break down in a minute if everyone’s pet cause was obliged the way the anti-choice stuff is.

  5. Silent Kate says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. I ‘m going to check if that movie is on Netflix. At the end when you mentioned Keith “O”, I was laughing like crazy. I stopped watching him when Hillary was “unforgivable”. That room comment was so funny.

  6. Sorry for the delay on the Hillary vids… had to run some errands!

    The State department released this clip earlier–it’s the one where Hillary calls Loughner an extremist. This MBC segment appears to tease the interview (anyone care to translate?). In this snippet, Hillary answers a question on violence and points to the inspiring example of Dr. Hawa Abdi in war-torn Somalia. This youtube continues from where the last clip left off and brings us to the point where Madame Secretary fields a prompt about the West conflating the extremist fringe that carried out 9-11 with the entire Arab world. Which takes us full circle to the first clip where Hillary mentions the Arizona shooter to illustrate her broader point that extremism is a universal problem that is not representative of a whole. (Much to the predictable dismay of the right. Shades of Scarborough country’s phony outrage over Hillary alluding to the electoral nightmare of Florida 2000.)

    Jessica over in the comments at Still4Hill’s dug up the the last four minutes, where Hillary gushes about her family, describing how she met Bill and how Chelsea met Marc. It’s a nice candid bit where you can hear in Hill’s voice that she is all things at once: the student she once was, the wife and mother she’ll always be, the stateswoman she has grown into, and the advocate she was born to be.

    • Seriously says:

      Great post, Wonk. I just ran into someone who reminded me that she was in South Africa during the primaries and met a lot of women who were so inspired by Hillary, both as Hillary herself and in terms of the enormous impact a female President of the United States would have all around a world that’s ruled by men of all colors. It made me depressed, but then I realized it’s conceivable that South Africa will have a woman President in our lifetimes. 🙂 Thanks for the videos.

  7. Fannie says:

    Super Saturday Post! Enjoyed reading Hillary’s questions/answers.

    What really hit me is your statement “The problem with pinning this soley on the GOP, thous, is that doing so omits everything the so called Party of Women did to create the enviroment in which the GOP could even dare to push Stupakistan- Act IV in the middle of a persistent unemployment crisis.”

    You nailed it! The dems are out screaming we told you the GOP would do this, as though they were not part of the ACT.

    And those charts on the states, thank you, thank you. I’m going to print them out, very important for us to understand where the states
    are taking action. I am beside myself when they can require a woman to have an ultrasound, and be forced to watch pictures of that they describe as a child in pain during the proceedure. Or even to hear
    from them “murder of a child”, during their counseling sessions.

    I was recently talking to a woman who said she considered it murder, and I told her if she didn’t want to have an abortion because that is what she considers it for herself, fine by me. I asked can you give me a list of those women in prison for having had abortions? Then I asked her who she voted for, and she said she was a democrat, and voted for Jerry Brown. I told her he was pro choice. She insisted that abortion is the act of murdering a child. Round and round we went on fetus vs child. Why women want to tell other women what is is, and what is best for them is beyond me.

    Thanks for this conversation.

    • cwaltz says:

      The conversation needs to be flipped around and around. The conversation needs to be when should it be right to enslave a woman and force her to provide the essential nutrition and oxygen from her own human body to cultivate the potential of an embryo to become a fully formed human being. The truth is a embryo can not recognize it’s full potential without the nutrients and sacrifice of another human being(and it is a sacrifice IMO whether or not you love your children; to raise a child into an adult means using the physical and financial werewithal to nurture that child at your own expense). Sacrifice should not be required but something entered into willingly.

  8. paper doll says:

    Amazing post as always…a weekly highlight for moi 🙂

  9. paper doll says:

    If this society actually gave a hang about children, then there would be child care on demand in every neighborhood….and we wouldn’t be sending so many of our children to wars we don’t even know why we are fighting . Why do so many stop caring about the child the minute the child is born? Plainly it’s about profits and body control imo…and not necessarily in that order

    • cwaltz says:

      The hypocrisyfrom the “pro life” quarter astounds me. You either care about low taxes or you care about children. You truly can’t care for both. Children require resources. They require minimally food, shelter, education, and health care. These things cost money. The money has to come from somewhere. If you FORCE people who do not have the funds to provide these things, then you de facto become responsible for providing these things. No runnig around screaming “welfare moms” when YOU are responsible for creating them with your zero tolerance for a medical procedure policy.

      • dakinikat says:

        Every time my daughter tells me what these same folks have done to prenatal care in Nebraska, I want to cry. It’s when things like that happen you know that it’s not about what’s being carried to term …

  10. cwaltz says:

    WTV this is an amazing post! I’m going to have to find that book on Clara Nichols. Women from earlier centuries fascinate me. My husband’s grandma was born in 1898 and was the quintessential renaissaince woman raising 9 children and taking care of a household. She ruled her household and no one ever questioned the idea that a mere woman could do so. I was saddened when she passed because I missed the potential to learn so much.

  11. Valhalla says:

    Advocacy group conundrums — amidst a conversation about madamab’s recent post on Smith-Lipinski, I found this response to the Stupak-Obama-EO from Planned Parenthood:

    “We regret that a pro-choice president of a pro-choice nation was forced to sign an Executive Order that further codifies the proposed anti-choice language in the health-care reform bill, originally proposed by Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska,” said Cecile Richards, president of PPFA. She also said her group is “grateful” that the executive order does not “include the complete and total ban on private health insurance coverage for abortion that Congressman Bart Stupak had insisted upon.”

    I mean really, if you can’t stand up and straightforwardly criticize the President when he flips you the bird on the one issue your organization is organized around, what good are you?

    On the other hand, PP is one of the few organizations that actually has organization of women’s clinics where they can get a full range of reproductive services. And I want to support that. I used to give them money pretty regularly, until 2008 when they latched onto the Obama trainwreck.

    NOW, at least, aside from a short spasm of briefly supporting HCR, opposed it as long as it had first the Stupak language and then the EO. They are, as far as I know, the only organization to criticize Obama about other anti-female policies as well. They have still been somewhat uneven overall, but they definitely changed direction after Terry O’Neill took over.