Wonk’s Saturday reads: 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 history.com 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 state.gov 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 thecakeeaters.com

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 Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh.

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