Gender

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  • Editorial Boards Celebrate The Supreme Court’s Strengthening Of Reproductive Rights

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    On June 27, the Supreme Court found in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that restrictions placed on Texas abortion providers by the state’s HB 2 violated a woman’s constitutional right to abortion access. Editorial boards across the nation hailed the decision as “a major victory for abortion rights,” and “the most significant victory in a generation for a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body.”

  • This Supreme Court Case Propelled By Right-Wing Media Myths Could Have Major National Consequences

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA KITTEL

    The Supreme Court is expected to rule this month in the landmark abortion case centered around 2013 Texas law HB 2, a statute that was propelled by right-wing media myths and imposes unnecessarily restrictive requirements on the state’s abortion providers. If the country’s highest court allows the Texas law to stand, it will set a dangerous precedent, opening the door for similar restrictions in other states and putting women’s health at dire risk.  

    Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt ­–  “the most important Supreme Court abortion case in a generation,” –  will determine the fate of HB 2, the Texas law that has already forced nearly half of the state's abortion clinics to close by placing medically unnecessary requirements on providers. HB 2 "requires abortion doctors to be affiliated with nearby hospitals and also limits abortion to ambulatory surgical centers," under the guise of necessary women’s health protections, but health experts overwhelmingly say those requirements are both dangerous and “medically unnecessary.” Admitting privileges laws like Texas' HB 2 not only impose stricter requirements on abortion providers than on facilities that perform riskier procedures, but they also severly limit the number of abortion providers; most providers "cannot meet the number-of-admissions standard for gaining privileges because so few of their patients need hospital care."

     

     

    In the March oral arguments, Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller relied on a common right-wing media myth to justify the restrictions, falsely claiming that they’re necessary to prevent another “Kermit Gosnell” scandal in which illegal operations led to multiple deaths in Philadelphia. But Gosnell’s crimes bear no resemblance to safe, legal abortions –  such as  those performed at the clinics targeted by HB 2 – and the Texas law, if allowed to stand, could actually make crimes like Gosnell’s more likely given that his business model was to prey on low-income women who could not access legal abortions and “felt they had no alternative.” The Texas lawmakers who pushed for this legislation echoed the right-wing media myth that women's health clinics were unsafe and required increased regulation, capitalizing on a lie that originated with anti-choice activists. Numerous reviews have concluded that abortion facilities nationwide are safe, routinely inspected, and subject to onerous regulation.

    The Texas law has already forced more than half of the state’s abortion clinics to close, and if the law is allowed by the Supreme Court to take full effect, another 10 of the 19 remaining clinics in the state could close meaning that 75 percent of all of the clinics in the state will be shut down because of  the law. The final remaining clinics would all be clustered in metropolitan areas. This means the average distance women must travel each way to reach a clinic would be 85 miles (the national average is 30 miles), with nearly 1 million women more than 150 miles from the nearest abortion provider, effectively ending “abortion access for low-income women in rural areas of the state, who are already having a hard time finding providers.” Research conducted by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) demonstrated the law has “resulted in significant burdens for women” attempting to access abortion care, and the burdens would disproportionately impact low-income women, women of color, and Latinas in particular.

    But it’s not just Texan women’s fates at stake in the Supreme Court ruling. The same medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers exist in at least 22 other states -- and dozens of additional abortion restrictions exist throughout the country.

    As Refinery29’s Lilli Petersen explained, “what’s at stake in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt isn’t actually the legal right to have an abortion, but what states are allowed to do to regulate the procedure.” A “decision in favor” of HB 2, Petersen expounded, “would set a national precedent and open the door for other states to enact similar limitations on abortion.”

    If the Supreme Court finds in Texas’ favor it's likely to have an immediate impact on neighboring state Louisiana, for example, which passed a similarly styled law in 2014. If allowed to stand, Louisiana’s law would shutter three of the state’s four abortion clinics. Just days after hearing oral arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court issued a brief order that reversed the Fifth Circuit, allowing the temporary closed clinics in Louisiana to reopen, but the law’s ultimate fate is still in question. Likewise Alabama has also passed a similar bill that requires doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges. That law has been struck down by a federal court but its status could also be affected by the ruling in Whole Women’s Health and reportedly “if the law is allowed to take effect, four of the state’s five clinics would close, and the lone surviving clinic could never meet the demand for abortions in Alabama, which average around 9,000 a year.”  

    If the impact in Texas is an indicator of what might happen elsewhere, the consequences of the Supreme Court upholding HB 2 are dire. Another TxPEP study predicted that if the Supreme Court fails to overturn HB 2, women in Texas will become increasingly more likely to self-induce abortion "as clinic-based care becomes more difficult to access." Incidents of self-induced abortions are most prevalent among women who reported facing significant obstacles to reproductive healthcare in the past, as is the case with Latina women living in a rural area of Texas that has seen several clinic closures.

    In a New York Times article, economist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz outlined how demand for self-induced abortion is concentrated in areas where abortion is most difficult to access, “reminiscent of the era before Roe v. Wade.” Stephens-Davidowitz analyzed data based on Google searches for phrases like “how to miscarriage” and “how to self-abort,” and found that the “state with the highest rate of Google searches for self-induced abortions is Mississippi, which now has one abortion clinic.” Stephens-Davidowitz concluded: “there is an unambiguous fact in Google search data that the eight justices of the Supreme Court and everyone else should know. In some parts of the United States, demand for self-induced abortion has risen to a disturbing level.”

    As Dr. Daniel Grossman, co-author of the TxPEP study told reporters, "This is the latest body of evidence demonstrating the negative implications of laws like HB2 that pretend to protect women but in reality place them, and particularly women of color and economically disadvantaged women, at significant risk."

    Medically unnecessary restrictive laws don’t protect women and they don’t curb the number of abortions. They actually tend to increase unsafe abortion, according to international evidence. As Taylor Crumpton wrote in Glamour magazine, “when providers are too far away, or waiting periods become untenably long, women look to cross the border to secure abortion-inducing medication or try to get abortion pills through the black market.”

    Unless the Supreme Court makes a binding rule striking down both restrictions in HB 2, the door to similar restrictions in other states will be left wide open. The outcome could also be negatively affected by the unprecedented GOP obstruction of the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Due to the empty seat, there’s a chance the court could deadlock or postpone a decision, which could permit Texas HB 2 to stand, but wouldn’t set a binding precedent, “leaving uncertainty for other states and highlighting more than ever the importance of the next Supreme Court appointment,” as The New York Times reported. That uncertainty could weigh especially heavily on “states like Alabama, Mississippi and Wisconsin [as they] press to remove blocks on their admitting-privilege laws.”

    Refinery29 has laid out a number of possible outcomes:

  • How Media Should Interview A Hate Group Leader

    Tony Perkins Is Set To Appear On ABC's This Week

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, is set to appear on the upcoming edition of ABC’s Sunday morning news show, This Week. It’s paramount that, when introducing Perkins, the hosts accurately identify him as the leader of an anti-gay hate group.

    The Family Research Council (FRC) has been listed as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) since 2010 due to the organization’s propagation of known falsehoods about LGBT people as well as Perkins’ history of making inflammatory remarks about LGBT people. Perkins’ extreme views have been called out by critics as not representative of the views of most Christians.

    Perkins’ record of bigoted anti-gay remarks includes calling pedophilia a “homosexual problem,” claiming that gay men “recruit” children into homosexuality, and endorsing a Uganda law that would have imposed the death penalty for gay sex.

    In the past, mainstream media outlets have regularly failed to identify FRC as an anti-LGBT hate group, instead allowing it to pass as a serious policy organization. Outlets have treated Perkins as a credible and legitimate conservative commentator, regularly inviting him to speak on behalf of Christians without identifying him as a hate monger.  But last April, Bob Schieffer, former host of CBS’ Face The Nation, set the gold standard when it comes to interviewing members of groups such as FRC  by accurately identifying Perkins as the president of “an anti-gay hate group.”

    Media owe audiences pertinent information about the guests they bring on to offer commentary. In the wake of the Orlando massacre at a gay nightclub, it is vital hosts disclose Perkins’ extreme anti-LGBT record to provide audiences with the necessary context to adequately assess his commentary.

    UPDATE: Tony Perkins did not appear as scheduled on the June 19 edition of ABC’s This Week. No mention of his absence from This Week’s Powerhouse Roundtable was made:

  • It’s Not Just Trump Fans; His Media Supporters Also Call Clinton A “Bitch”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    The Washington Post noted today that many of Donald Trump’s fans are routinely calling presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton a “bitch.” The sexist attack isn’t just common among Trump fans -- it’s also been regularly used by Trump’s leading media supporters and allies.

    The Post noted that many T-shirts calling Clinton a bitch are “sold at nearly all of Trump’s rallies” and “many Trump supporters spotted wearing the shirts at rallies over the past six weeks don’t think the term is that bad.” (Trump, who has a long history of making sexist remarks, claims he does not approve of the term for Clinton.) The Daily Caller has also promoted a Clinton “bitch” T-shirt in its “Daily Dealer” section:

    Here are examples of Trump media supporters Roger Stone, Ted Nugent, Alex Jones, Michael Savage, and Alex Castellanos calling Hillary Clinton a bitch over the years.

    Roger Stone Formed The Anti-Clinton Group “C.U.N.T.” Because He Couldn’t “Come Up With Words For B.I.T.C.H.”

    Stone, a longtime Trump friend and ally, heads a pro-Trump super PAC after working for his campaign last year. He has a long history of sexist commentary, especially about Hillary Clinton. In 2008, Stone established the anti-Hillary Clinton 527 group Citizens United Not Timid. The group -- now defunct -- emphasized the acronym by bolding the first letter in each word. The group claimed to "educate the American public about what Hillary Clinton really is." Stone said also he spent "hours trying to come up with words for B.I.T.C.H. and just couldn't do it." He also tweeted that Chelsea Clinton is a “total bitch.”

    Ted Nugent: Clinton Is A "Worthless Bitch" And "Toxic Cunt"

    Nugent is a conservative pundit and NRA board member. He has implored his fans to vote for Trump and said that “Trump is as close to Ted Nugent as you are going to get in politics."

    Nugent has called Clinton a "lying America destroying criminal ass bitch," a "worthless bitch," a "toxic cunt," and a "two-bit whore." In May, Nugent shared a video depicting Clinton being shot; he remarked, “I got your guncontrol right here bitch!”

    Fellow Trump supporter Sean Hannity refused to disavow Nugent’s attack against Clinton as a "worthless bitch," stating on his Fox News program in 2007: "No, I like Ted Nugent. He's a friend of mine."

    Alex Jones To Hillary Clinton: “You Bitch”

    Jones is a conspiracy theorist radio host who plays an “important role” in organizing support for Trump. Trump has appeared on his program, and Roger Stone is a regular guest.

    In August 2015, after the deadly shooting of a Virginia journalist and cameraman, Jones said: “Hey Hillary, you got bodyguards. Are their guns bad too? Why can’t I have a gun to protect myself, you bitch?”

    Michael Savage Describes Clinton As A Bitch

    Trump is a frequent guest on Savage’s radio program and has thanked him for his support and being “so amazing.”

    In a May 2016 interview, Savage said of Hillary Clinton: “There is a word for this kind of individual in the dog world, but I can’t use it on your show. It begins with a b.”

    Alex Castellanos On Clinton As "White Bitch": "Some Women ... Are Named That And It's Accurate"

    Castellanos, a political commentator and Republican strategist, works for the pro-Trump super PAC Rebuilding America Now.

    During a May 2008 segment on CNN, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin mentioned a news column in which "the punch line was a line that … Clinton was a 'white bitch.'" Castellanos, who was working as a CNN political commentator, responded: "And some women, by the way, are named that and it's accurate.” He then said: “She is a tough -- that tough lady, tough in politics, that's been her great strength. But let's face it, she can be a very abrasive, aggressive, irritating person, and a lot of voters, I think, see her that way." Castellanos later apologized for his remarks.

  • Right-Wing Media Fearmonger Over Washington State’s New LGBT-Inclusive Curriculum

    ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Conservative media are fearmongering over Washington state public schools’ new LGBT-inclusive education standards that aim to teach students “the importance of treating others with respect regarding gender identity.” Outlets are reporting that the state will soon begin to “teach transgenderism to kindergartners” and suggesting that Washington is promoting transgender “recruitment.” But education professionals and advocacy groups say students benefit from learning about gender identity at an early age.

  • Taking Cues From Fox's History Of Sexism, Viewers Overwhelmingly Oppose Two-Woman Ticket

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Less than two days after Hillary Clinton made history becoming the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and the first woman to lead a national presidential party ticket, Fox News viewers overwhelmingly said the country is not ready for a two-woman ticket.

    Fox News’ The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson polled its viewers on whether “the U.S. is ready for a two-woman ticket,” referring to the possibility that Clinton could choose a woman as her running mate. A resounding 79 percent of Fox viewers said the country was not prepared for Clinton to choose a female vice president.

    This should come as no surprise, given the way the network talks about women on a daily basis. Fox has a well-documented history of picking apart women’s appearances, downplaying sexual assault, and wanting to control women’s bodies.