“Rare” is the wrong benchmark

Nick Kristof’s recent article in The New York Times describes some of state-level attacks on choice. If you’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed by all that’s going on, it’s a great summary of the incremental approach to dismantling Roe we’ve been seeing nowadays.

But then Kristof concludes:

The best formulation on this topic was Bill Clinton’s, that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.”

And that’s where Kristof gets it wrong.

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Pro-choice wins: Not just Jon Stewart’s doing

In the past couple weeks, something unusual’s been happening in the pro-choice world – we’re actually winning. Yep, anti-choice initiatives like the ultrasound legislation in PA and VA are either failing to advance or, in the case of the Blunt Amendment this week, being defeated outright.

And that’s on top of Komen reversing their policy on Planned Parenthood funding and firing their VP of Public Policy, Karen Handel, for spearheading such misguided efforts.

What gives? (Not that I’m complaining). Have we hit the pro-choice inflection point where people are beginning to pay attention?

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What rectal exams teach us about body politics

Virginia State Senator Janet Howell’s getting a lot of (much-deserved) attention over her proposed amendment that would require men to have a rectal exam and cardiac stress test before receiving a prescription for medications like Viagra.

It’s a long-overdue turning of the tables that has become quite a media novelty. But instead of just focusing on the titillation factor, let’s think about why this is really such an eyebrow raiser. From Jill at Feministe:

Now don’t get me wrong: I don’t think that men should have to undergo rectal exams and cardiac stress tests before getting Viagra. I think that’s silly and wasteful and unnecessary and invasive. But I also think that women’s health is so routinely politicized, and is so widely accepted as something that it’s ok to politicize, that turning the tables might make men think a little bit harder about these issues. Right-wing politicians have positioned reproductive rights as about abortion and babies, not as what they really are: Fundamentally tied to the body. Laws like this force that conversation; they force politicians to explain why a procedure tied to female reproduction should included legally-mandated penetration and shame, while male reproduction gets a smile and a prescription.

It’s unsurprising that Senator Howell’s amendment failed because legislators would never, ever think to regulate a man’s body the way we do a woman’s. But by continuing to propose amendments like Howell’s, pro-choice legislators force a conversation that is long, long overdue. For that matter, progressive legislators could use this tactic on a variety of issues long governed by hypocrisy.