From the May 17 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight:
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Fox continued its effort to target the Obama administration with manufactured scandals, fearmongering that IRS commissioner Sarah Hall Ingram will use the IRS' authority under the Affordable Care Act to discriminate against conservatives by denying or postponing approval for medical procedures.
Las Vegas Review Journal contributor Sherman Frederick penned a column claiming that state legislators are pushing a new bill seeking to bolster sex education in Nevada because they believe "Nevada girls are easy."
After discussing one Hispanic legislator's support of comprehensive sex education, which Frederick assumes is just teaching students "how to put a Ziploc bag over a cucumber," Frederick determines that the argument the legislator is making is that Hispanic girls are "really, really easy":
As easy as Nevada girls are, you see, Nevada's Hispanic girls are really, really easy. That comes from the mouth of Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas. According to him, that's because Hispanic parents never talk to their children about sex. So government must do it.
Lest you think I am making this up, take a look at this excerpt from the Reno Gazette-Journal's Ray Hagar, who interviewed Kihuen about AB230, and Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, who testified in favor of the bill and revealed that she got pregnant as a teen and had it aborted.
Instead, we have AB230. Social conservatives on one side. Liberals on the other. And wanna-be leaders unwittingly (I hope) contending that not only are Nevada girls easy, Nevada's Hispanic girls are really, really easy.
Frederick claimed that the "Nevada girls are easy" quote comes from a news report by Reno Gazette-Journal's Ray Hager. However, Hager said in a tweet "That's Sherm's quote. I, or anyone I've quoted, did not say that": (click to enlarge)
Since Kermit Gosnell's conviction of the murder of three infants, right-wing media have dismissed existing laws and the context of Gosnell's case as part of their ongoing campaign to connect his horrific crimes to legal abortion procedures.
From the May 9 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Fox News pushed the myth that increased access to emergency contraceptives encourages sex among teenagers. In fact, research shows access to these drugs does not increase teens' sexual activity.
Fox News editor-at-large Peter Boyer previewed the network's special on the Kermit Gosnell murder trial by falsely claiming the trial illustrates "what abortion is," and that Gosnell's alleged crimes were the natural response to Roe v. Wade.
Gosnell is currently facing eight counts of murder for horrific acts committed under the guise of women's health at a clinic he operated in Philadelphia, PA. Since early April, right-wing media have criticized the media's perceived lack of coverage of the trial, and a new Fox documentary on the case is scheduled to air May 3.
In an advance interview with Breitbart.com, Boyer previewed Fox's upcoming Gosnell documentary, claiming that "though abortion itself is not on trial--it ends up being that it really is," and suggested that "Roe v. Wade created a specialized niche in the marketplace and Gosnell filled that niche in an urban, minority community."
However, as Media Matters previously noted, Gosnell's alleged actions bear no resemblance to legal abortion procedures, which is why he faces criminal charges. The grand jury in Gosnell's case noted that "Gosnell's approach was simple: keep volume high, expenses low - and break the law. That was his competitive edge." The grand jury report elaborated:
Pennsylvania, like other states, permits legal abortion within a regulatory framework. Physicians must, for example, provide counseling about the nature of the procedure. Minors must have parental or judicial consent. All women must wait 24 hours after first visiting the facility, in order to fully consider their decision. Gosnell's compliance with such requirements was casual at best. At the Women's Medical Society, the only question that really mattered was whether you had the cash. Too young? No problem. Didn't want to wait? Gosnell provided same-day service.
As University of California reproductive health professor Dr. Tracy Weitz pointed out, the procedures Gosnell is accused of performing have "nothing to do with the way in which the standard of care and later abortion procedures are performed in the United States," and that his actions are "nowhere in the medical literature."
Abortion procedures in the U.S. are highly regulated for safety. Women face fewer complications during legal abortion procedures than during childbirth: just 0.6 deaths per 100,000 abortions compared to 8.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the vast majority of states prohibit abortions after a fetus reaches "viability," typically between 20 to 24 weeks, except primarily in cases when the procedure is "necessary to protect the woman's life or health." Such procedures make up just 1 percent of abortions in the United States.
Though Boyer blamed the legalization of abortion for creating the "niche" that Gosnell's clinic exploited, research has shown that laws promoted by anti-abortion activists that raise access barriers to abortion push women toward such unsafe and unlawful operations as Gosnell's. According to the American Journal of Public Health:
Several studies indicate that the factors causing women to delay abortions until the second trimester include cost and access barriers, late detection of pregnancy, and difficulty deciding whether to continue the pregnancy. In part because of their increased vulnerability to these barriers, low-income women and women of color are more likely than are other women to have second-trimester abortions.
The grand jury in Gosnell's case stated: "Gosnell catered to the women who couldn't get abortions elsewhere." And as Salon's Irin Carmon noted, "The abortion rate is higher in countries where it's illegal, and around 47,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions in clinics that likely look a lot like Gosnell's."
Pro-choice activists have publicly condemned Gosnell. A Planned Parenthood official called the actions committed at his clinic "horrifying and outrageous," and NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue said:
So let me be loud and clear: Kermit Gosnell is a dangerous predator. He wouldn't exist, couldn't exist, without the work of Rep. Duffy and his friends in the anti-choice movement. Opponents of women's rights have hounded safe, legal health providers halfway out of business and blocked women's access to the quality care they need.
From the May 3 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Right-wing media have seized on a study of Medicaid recipients to attack the program by focusing on certain parts of the findings while health care experts point out that the program successfully expanded access to care and eased health-related financial problems, the primary focus of Medicaid.
In 2008, the state of Oregon held a lottery to expand Medicaid coverage to 10,000 people. Because the selection was random, researchers began a controlled study on how the coverage affected the participants. After the results were posted in The New England Journal of Medicine, right-wing media seized on the findings to attack both Medicaid and health care reform. On May 2, Fox Nation posted a Washington Examiner article on the study under the headline "Landmark Study Shatters Liberal Health Care Claims." In the article, Examiner senior editorial writer Philip Klein noted that the study's authors found that enrollment in Medicaid led to "lower rates of depression," but Klein wrote that "the study suggests that expanding Medicaid ... does not improve" the health of recipients. On Your World, Fox's senior managing editor for health news, Dr. Manny Alvarez, used the findings to attack the Affordable Care Act (ACA):
On May 3, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy called the Medicaid study "[b]ad news for Democrats who support Obamacare." On-screen text during the segment stated that the study found that Medicaid is "ineffective":
But while Fox used the study as an opportunity to attack various aspects of health care reform, experts have pointed out that the study's findings, while not entirely positive, show that the program aided the new enrollees in several ways. In a Health Affairs blog post, Dr. John Lumpkin, who served for 12 years as the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, wrote that the study showed that "coverage alone will not necessarily lead to good health," but also pointed to the "big impact on family finances" and the fact that "expanding Medicaid was shown to substantially reduce depression." Dr. Lumpkin concluded:
So far, the Oregon Health Insurance Study shows us that people who obtained Medicaid coverage received more health care services in the first two years--especially needed preventive care--and had less depression and financial worries. Their health outcomes weren't significantly better, but at least they are now participating in the health care system and getting the care they need, without plunging their families deeper into poverty. From this vantage point, the glass seems more than half full.
From the May 2 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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From the May 2 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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The media have a responsibility to accurately report on the FDA's approval of Plan B emergency contraception for use without a prescription for women 15 years and older, without giving in to false right-wing narratives.
Plan B, also known as the "morning after pill," is an emergency contraceptive that prevents a pregnancy by delaying ovulation or immobilizing sperm. In April, U.S. District judge Edward Korman, a Reagan appointee, ruled that the Obama Administration had to eliminate age restrictions on access to this emergency contraception without a prescription. Recently, however, the FDA separetly approved an approval application for over the counter access for women over 15. As explained by the FDA:
On April 5, 2013, a federal judge in New York ordered the FDA to grant a 2001 citizen's petition to the agency that sought to allow over-the-counter access to Plan B (a two dose levonorgestrel product) for women of all ages and/or make Plan B One-Step available without age or point of sale restrictions. However, Teva's application to market Plan B One-Step for women 15 and older was pending with the agency prior to the ruling.
The FDA's approval of Teva's current application for Plan B One-Step is independent of that litigation and this decision is not intended to address the judge's ruling.
The Department of Justice is considering next steps in the litigation. In the meantime, the FDA took independent action to approve the pending application on Plan B One-Step for use without a prescription by women 15 years of age or older.
Nevertheless, National Review Online is already attacking this decision as a "compromise" that is "all about politics" because unrestricted access to Plan B, which it calls a "sometimes-abortifacient pill," was what the administration "wanted all along," in spite of the clear science that the judge relied on to strike down age restrictions.
Two studies have estimated effectiveness of [emergency contraceptive pills] by confirming the cycle day by hormonal analysis (other studies used women's self-reported cycle date). In these studies, no pregnancies occurred in the women who took ECPs before ovulation; while pregnancies occurred only in women who took ECPs on or after the day of ovulation, providing evidence that ECPs were unable to prevent implantation.
As Linda Greenhouse explained in a New York Times op-ed, the judge based his decision on this scientific evidence:
Judge Korman begins where discussions of emergency contraception should begin but almost never do: by defining the drug and how it works. Those challenging the requirement for employer-provided health insurance to cover birth control almost invariably train their attack on emergency contraception by calling it an "abortion pill" or abortifacient and asserting a religious objection to abortion.
But Judge Korman, citing a Government Accountability Office report that collected scientific articles on the mechanism of levonorgestrel, the synthetic hormone that is the drug's active ingredient, demonstrates that Plan B is not about abortion. It immobilizes sperm and prevents or delays ovulation. In other words, when taken shortly after unprotected intercourse, Plan B works as birth control, by preventing rather than terminating a pregnancy. (The F.D.A.-approved label for Plan B raises the possibility that the drug might also work by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus to begin a pregnancy, but the National Institutes of Health has removed language raising this prospect from its Web site, and the N.I.H. biochemist in charge of research on contraception has said the language should also be taken off the label. Judge Korman called the prospect that Plan B might permit fertilization but prevent implantation "scientifically unsupported speculation.")
The issue is also playing out in federal courts across the country that are considering employers' challenges to regulations implementing the preventive health services provision of the Affordable Care Act. Under the ACA, employer-provided health insurance plans must cover contraception. Owners of private, secular corporations such as the Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby have sued to block the mandate, claiming that the mandate requires them to cover abortion-inducing drugs in violation of their religious beliefs. Federal court rulings challenges to the contraception mandate have been mixed.
As Greenhouse points out , the question of whether Plan B is an abortion-inducing drug has some bearing on the contraception mandate cases:
The debate over the contraception-coverage mandate wasn't part of Judge Korman's case; that issue will be argued next month before the federal appeals court in Denver in a case brought by the owners of the Hobby Lobby retail store chain. I hope the judges who hear the Hobby Lobby case and the other such cases that are cropping up around the country are as precise as Judge Korman in defining what's at issue: evidence-based judging to go along with evidence-based medicine. If the challengers' real objection is to birth control, they shouldn't be able to hide behind the "abortifacient" label.
The question of whether for-profit corporations have religious liberty rights at all is debatable. However, if courts conclude that such religious liberty rights exist and they buy the right-wing "abortion pill" myth, employees nationwide could stand to lose reproductive health coverage.
Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are teaming up to demonize the Food and Drug Administration's decision to lower the age requirement for access to over-the-counter emergency contraception, ignoring both the science behind the drug and the FDA's assessment that younger women can handle the responsibility of taking the medication.
On America's Newsroom, Fox's senior managing editor for health news, Dr. Manny Alvarez, attacked the FDA's decision to allow 15-year-olds to purchase the medication. He claimed emergency contraception decisions should be left up to the parents because, "Since when is a 15-year-old child a woman? Now give me a break."
Alvarez went on to claim that a 15-year-old is unable to understand the possible side effects of Plan B. Host Martha MacCallum stated, "Look at the list of warnings on this thing," prompting Alvarez to argue:
It reads like the Constitution. There's so many, you know, possibilities, probabilities, percentages. You're going to tell me a 15-year-old girl -- and who could even buy it and give it to a 14-year-old or 13-year-old -- is going to understand all the potential side effects? And what they should do after if they have any of the symptoms?
Later, MacCallum fearmongered over whether Plan B could result in long-term fertility problems, wondering, "Who knows what the long-lasting implications of using it in that way are? When this girl decides she wants to have a baby a few years down the road?" Alvarez did not take the bait, telling MacCallum: "I'm not arguing that this has some mild to moderate side effects -- not terrible side effects."
Aside from the fact that the "children" seeking emergency contraception are of reproductive age, Alvarez's allegations have been explicitly discredited by FDA research. The agency conclusively determined that a 15-year-old is able to understand the side effects and consequences of Plan B after conducting research on this question when determining whether to make the drug available to this age group without a prescription. FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, MD explained (emphasis added):
The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) completed its review of the Plan B One-Step application and laid out its scientific determination. CDER carefully considered whether younger females were able to understand how to use Plan B One-Step. Based on the information submitted to the agency, CDER determined that the product was safe and effective in adolescent females, that adolescent females understood the product was not for routine use, and that the product would not protect them against sexually transmitted diseases. Additionally, the data supported a finding that adolescent females could use Plan B One-Step properly without the intervention of a healthcare provider.
Anti-choice activists, playing on media bias toward sensationalism, have manipulated journalists into making an exceptionally rare procedure the face of abortion in America.
Lila Rose, the proprietor of the group Live Action and a veteran anti-choice crusader with a long history of mounting deceptive campaigns targeting abortion rights, released a video on April 28 of an undercover activist's experience at a New York women's health clinic that she dishonestly said illustrated "illegal and inhuman practices" that should lead to a murder investigation.
On cue, Washington Post blogger Melinda Henneberger quickly tied the video campaign to Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia physician facing multiple murder charges resulting from the monstrous and horrific procedures he is alleged to have carried out under the guise of women's reproductive health.
Henneberger was quickly forced to correct a central point of her post and tacitly acknowledge that she did not view the entire, unedited video before writing a blog post that drew sweeping conclusions about what this video means to the larger abortion debate. The New York Times also took the bait, noting that Live Action is tying its videos -- a second video was released Monday -- to Gosnell and adding:
The release comes as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, has thrown his support behind legislation that will guarantee a woman's right to an abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, if her health is in danger or if the fetus is not viable. The current law permits abortion after 24 weeks only if a woman's life is in danger, although it is not enforced because federal court rulings have allowed less restrictive late-term abortions.
But the conversations documented by Live Action have absolutely nothing to do with the realities of abortion in America. Medical practitioners in both videos make clear that the situation they are ostensibly discussing -- what they do when a fetus survives a late-term abortion -- is something they have never had to deal with. So the entire conversation is now based on a hypothetical scenario cooked up by Lila Rose to demonize abortion providers.
This is a longstanding tactic of the anti-choice movement, as noted by Amanda Marcotte of RH Reality Check:
Third trimester abortions are about 1% of all abortions performed, and frankly, the anti-choice movement only focuses on them because they are especially disgusting, and therefore make a good cudgel to attack all abortion rights. And since they are so emotionally fraught, they have a great deal of appeal to the ghouls that populate the anti-choice movement, the ones who spend obscene percentages of their lives dwellling on graphic pictures of dead fetuses.
The overwhelming majority of abortions performed in the United States -- 90 percent -- occur during the first trimester, according to researchers at the Guttmacher Institute. Note that while Live Action is currently focused on late-term procedures, their stated goal is "ending abortion."
The actions Gosnell allegedly took do not fall under the framework of medical abortion and constitute murder -- murder -- under Pennsylvania law. Yet those actions, along with a hypothetical situation that the experienced practitioners in the video say they have never encountered during procedures that make up a staggeringly small fraction of abortions in this country, now form the basis of the conversation.
In recent weeks, journalists have debated whether ideological bias caused media outlets to ignore the Gosnell trial. The conventional theory in elite media circles is that journalists have downplayed that trial because they are ideologically opposed to a story that sheds a negative light on reproductive rights.
Yet, since Gosnell's arrest, pro-choice advocates have focused on the trial as an illustration of what happens when women do not have access to safe, legal reproductive health services, including legal abortions.
If any bias is at play, it is a bias in favor of sensationalism, allowing anti-choice activists to make the entire discussion of reproductive health defined by an exceptionally rare procedure in order to achieve their political ends.
A Wall Street Journal editorial advanced the myth that Congress is trying to exempt itself from President Obama's health care law. In fact, Congress is attempting to fix an error in the law that prevents the government from making its normal contribution to staffers' health insurance.
Basing its editorial on an April 24 Politico article, the Journal wrote that "Congressional leaders were in hush-hush talks to exempt themselves and their staff from the wonders of ObamaCare." The editorial, headlined "Exempting Congress From ObamaCare," continued:
In March 2010 Mr. Grassley tried again to apply the law to all Congressional personnel and to White House officials. His amendment received every Republican vote but it was defeated with 55 Democrats (plus Socialist Bernie Sanders) voting no. However, thanks to Mr. Grassley's earlier success, the law still covered Members of Congress and some of their aides -- hence their latest effort to wiggle out of the ObamaCare mandates.
Congress will eventually find some way to protect itself, but its subterranean scrambling to do so exposes one of ObamaCare's greatest deceits: That if you like the insurance you have, you'll be able to keep it. Even the people who wrote the law don't believe it.
But as The Washington Post's Ezra Klein has explained, Congress is not discussing "exempting" itself from the health care law; it's attempting to fix an error in the law that prevents the government from making its current contribution to the insurance premiums of congressional staffers:
Back during the Affordable Care Act negotiations, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) proposed an amendment forcing all members of Congress and all of their staffs to enter the exchanges. The purpose of the amendment was to embarrass the Democrats. But in a bit of jujitsu of which they were inordinately proud, Democrats instead embraced the amendment and added it to the law.
But no one is discussing "exempting" congressional staffers from Obamacare. They're discussing creating some method through which the federal government can keep making its current contribution to the health insurance of congressional staffers.