Political Animal

Blog

April 02, 2013 3:27 PM Bleeding Kansas

By Ed Kilgore

Sometimes I fret that I spend too much time writing about right-wing extremism. But as I have often observed, the radicalization of the conservative movement and the Republican Party is the preeminent political development of our era, and affects absolutely everything. Beyond that, from a sheer aesthetic perspective, the hits just keep coming, and it’s hard to ignore them.

Today’s example comes from the state that is trying very hard to outdo all its many extremist rivals, even those steeped in the toxic cultural waters of my own Deep South: Bleeding Kansas. Here’s a report from Tara Culp-Ressler of ThinkProgress on the Sunflower State’s remorseless effort to enact antichoice legislation so sweeping that it will stand as a bright shining symbol to those everywhere who want to stamp out the very idea of reproductive rights:

The Kansas legislature is advancing an omnibus abortion bill that would, among other things, define life as beginning at conception in the state constitution and place unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers in the state. HB 2253 has already passed the House, and looks poised to gain enough support to sail through the Senate — but only after Republicans rejected several key amendments to soften the measure, including a provision to add exceptions for rape and incest to the state’s existing abortion restrictions. Top Republicans decried those provisions as “little gotcha amendments.”
Senators discussed the bill for more than two hours on Monday. There were several proposed amendments up for debate — a rape and incest exception, a provision ensuring that women won’t be prosecuted for using birth control even if the state officially redefines life with a “personhood” amendment, and a measure to remove HB 2253’s requirement that doctors tell women about a scientifically disputed link between abortion and breast cancer. All of them were rejected.
“These amendments are little gotcha amendments,” Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce (R) said during the floor debate. “I’m getting a little irritated at it.”

Culp-Ressler emphasizes the rejection of a rape exception, presumably because of the role that issue played during the 2012 elections. But what amazes me is the rejection of immunity from prosecution for use of birth control.

The dirty little secret of “personhood” initiatives is that they would proscribe not only abortions, or “abortion pills,” but IUD’s and “Plan B” contraceptives on grounds that such devices and drugs are actually “abortifacients,” identical morally to murdering an infant. And indeed, some “personhood” folk would ban the routine anti-ovulant “pill” used by many millions of Americans on grounds that it sometimes operates by interfering with the implantation of a fertilized ovum—i.e., a “person”—in the uterine wall.

If regular Republican-voting Americans had any idea of the radical vision underlying such legislation—something straight out of the Handmaid’s Tale, folks—the solons supporting it wouldn’t even last until the next election. So you’d think they’d be extra careful about supporting efforts to ensure that most of the female population of the state of child-bearing age wouldn’t have to worry about being hauled off to the hoosegow and told they needed to get their procreative groove on or put an aspirin between their legs.

But no: Kansas Republicans consider that sort of concession to the twentieth century a “little gotcha amendment” they find irritating.

Maybe it’s just that they know this package of legislation wouldn’t stand a moment of judicial scrutiny, even if Justice Kennedy goes a lot further in his drift towards second-guessing what’s good for women. Maybe they just want to erect a monument to ideology that can never be surpassed, or to distract attention from less frightening provisions (like all those boring medical licensing provisions which actually shut down abortion providers) that might survive a court test.

But I don’t mind paying some special attention to this particular development because for all their movement’s habits of deception and crocodile tears for women, Kansas’ antichoicers are giving us real insight into their idea of a good society.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • c u n d gulag on April 02, 2013 3:38 PM:

    Here's an idea:
    Let's tell the Republican politicians in Kansas that we'll be ok with prosecuting women for using contraceptives, but only when men are prosecuted for using rubbers.

    And especially those me who ejaculate billions of potential precious babies into their socks while they're jerkin'-their-gherkin trying to look up the skirt of the latest hottie on FOX News.

    BABY KILLERS!!!

    I can hardly wait until the great Charles Pierce brings this up later on in the week, in his 'states as laboratories of democracy' segment.
    Maybe by then, I'll be able to laugh...

  • Crusty the ex-clown on April 02, 2013 3:43 PM:

    I will be interested in their response when it is pointed out to them that ethanol, caffeine and nicotine have all been found to cause miscarriages in otherwise healthy women. In order to be consistent they would have to ban consumption of these by all women of childbearing age.

  • Josef K on April 02, 2013 3:48 PM:

    If regular Republican-voting Americans had any idea of the radical vision underlying such legislation—something straight out of the Handmaid’s Tale, folks—the solons supporting it wouldn’t even last until the next election.

    I half-suspect they already have some idea, and are perfectly fine with it. I only half-suspect this because I'm unconvinced they're actually thinking beyond their own noses.

    That said, I can't help but feel all this State-level activity is so much spinning wheels in the mud, at least on this subject. The more ridiculous it gets, the less it feels like it will have any resolution the anti-choicers can live with.

  • boatboy_srq on April 02, 2013 3:59 PM:

    There were several proposed amendments up for debate — [including] a provision ensuring that women won’t be prosecuted for using birth control even if the state officially redefines life with a “personhood” amendment... All of them were rejected.

    Finally we have clarity on how the law is supposed to deal with this particular item. For decades now the anti-choice crowd has been targeting physicians and clinics, and has been portraying the women involved as "misled" or "misinformed" or otherwise "unfortunate." Now at last we get clarity: the murderesses will indeed be held accountable for their wanton behavior and their disrespect for Human Life™.

    A##hats.

  • boatboy_srq on April 02, 2013 4:05 PM:

    @Crusty the ex-clown: there are some foodstuffs that make that list as well. Exactly how much Big Gubmint are they prepared to tolerate in order to save Teh Baybeez? Will groceries be forbidden to sell certain products to women of a certain age? Will pharmacists need to query their customers about their eating and ovulating habits? How about restaurants? Bars?

    Something tells me that Altria, ADM, McDonalds, Yum, Darden, InBev and others are going to have a field day with the requirements necessary to implement this "law" - and Kansas will be on the hook for millions in legal fees and possibly billions in settlements.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on April 02, 2013 4:07 PM:

    Why do I get the sinking feeling that these yahoos don't know twit about twat?

    Because they DON'T!!!!!!!!! Their knowledge of human reproduction is seriously on par with the average prepubescent boy's understanding. Ultimate sadness...

  • martin on April 02, 2013 4:07 PM:

    I can see the Ads now:

    "Republican Sen X wants to send YOUR mother to jail because she took a pill. Your daughter was raped and Republican Cong Y says SHE'S a murderer. Republican Governor Brownbeck says YOU, Your Sister, Your Aunt...are all killers who should be in jail. Or worse..."

    That is, of course, if the Democratic party has the balls to fight this the way it should be fought.

  • Senator Blutarsky on April 02, 2013 4:12 PM:

    This bill has ten sponsors in the NC General Assembly:

    http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/PDF/H494v0.pdf

  • boatboy_srq on April 02, 2013 4:14 PM:

    @martin: It may not last through to an election. All it will take is one of the big food/dining/alcohol/chemical companies getting wind that one of their (otherwise normal, generally available and heretofore considered "harmless") products is Exhibit A in the prosecution's case against the next murderess to be tried under the new law, and we'll see amicus briefs and political pressure a'plenty to reverse this piece of singular stupidity.

    That doesn't mean that I don't think the Dems should hold back - just that by the next election cycle we ought to see the legislature backpedaling faster than you can say Monsanto/Anheuser-Busch/Outback/Nestle/ConAgra.

  • Roberta in MN on April 02, 2013 4:21 PM:

    This just makes me ill. I lived through the 60's and back room abortions. These people want us to have babies, but once out of the womb, don't want to help take care of them. They want enough for the next war. I sincerely hope, the American people wake up to what is going on and do something about it.

  • john sherman on April 02, 2013 4:28 PM:

    You might entertain the hypothesis that the Republicans don't want to win in the courts. Over the years the pattern has been for them to propose blatantly unconsitutional laws which are then nixed by the court thereby enabling them to come back to the chumps for money and gotv help, as well as complain about the judicial system.

  • Anonymous on April 02, 2013 4:33 PM:

    Concerning "HB 2253’s requirement that doctors tell women about a scientifically disputed link between abortion and breast cancer". I didn't think it was disputed, I thought it was just not true. (It isn't. Look it up.) Do the women also have to attend classes on intelligent design and the international global warming conspiracy fraud?

  • jjm on April 02, 2013 4:45 PM:

    There is more than a hint of some kind of hysterical psychosis in these acts. At first I thought they were just daring the Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade, with its conservative majority.

    But the demand to be in their scrutinizing the uterus is beyond the realms of normal psychology. I mean, wanting to return to the womb is something most people either never experience or have gotten over.

    If men are so very afraid their 'seed' will be wasted, they should just stop having sex with women, other men or themselves. Perhaps they should get sterilized?

  • Ixtlanero on April 02, 2013 4:48 PM:

    Carry on my wayward son ...

    "conceiv" I kid you not

  • Soprano on April 02, 2013 4:49 PM:

    Let's tell the Republican politicians in Kansas that we'll be ok with prosecuting women for using contraceptives, but only when men are prosecuted for using rubbers.

    The legislators will be fine with that -- they probably think having sex with a rubber is like taking a bath wearing a raincoat. Of course, they don't want to stop men from "sowing wild oats" wherever and whenever they are so inclined. But, the women with whom they have sex need to be punished by forced childbearing when they get pregnant because they are sluts. Beyond the double standard.

  • c u n d gulag on April 02, 2013 5:10 PM:

    Soprano,
    Sadly, you're right.
    After all, "Boys will be boys!" - even when it's the women who pay the price.

  • Mimikatz on April 02, 2013 5:27 PM:

    Once again a reason to be thankful for Citizens United. Martin, there are outside groups who will run ads close to that (and I for one will be helping to fund them) regardless of what the Dems want to do. That's the upside on an inability to coordinate with a candidate.

    I think that Kansas has been suffering too many 90 degree plus summer days due to global warming and it has addled their brains. Wichita, home of Koch Industries, regularly has among the hottest summer temps in the country. Or maybe the Koches put something in the water to foster the crazy. Or maybe it is that they are farther from the Coasts or Great Lakes than any other state, and those are known to correlate with more open minddness. Whatever. They are actually ground zero for many of the worst effects of climate change and they don't even know it is happening.

    And what of the theory in Freakonomics that the decline in crime came from legal abortion and fewer unwanted children?

    I predict that with increased economic independence women are going to increasingly vote their interests or vote with their feet.

  • elisabeth on April 02, 2013 6:22 PM:

    Just as marriage equality became more acceptable as more US citizens realized that they knew gays (in their family even!), US citizens need to hear from the 1 in 3 women who have an abortion. 1 in 3. Stand up, my sisters, and say with me, "I had an abortion, and I would do it again -- why should I have an unplanned child?? Every child should be a wanted child, one whose birth was planned. No woman should be forced to complete an unplanned pregnancy, or carry to term a failing pregnancy."
    Right now, both choice and anti-choice supporters most often talk about abortion as something that "other women," have, not something you and certainly not me might choose. It won't be until the truth is really out, that abortion is a choice that needs to be available to all women who are fertile, that there will be a change.

  • Mimikatz on April 02, 2013 6:32 PM:

    It also needs to be said over and over that the best defense against abortion is widely available contraception. These benighted legislators are just trying to punish women for sex. Women started to see in the last election how hostility to contraception was part of a mind set that is hostile to women, that demonizes women for the supposed fall of man. As more women see this the appeal of the GOP will shrink further.

  • S.W. Anderson on April 02, 2013 7:55 PM:

    "If regular Republican-voting Americans had any idea of the radical vision underlying such legislation—something straight out of the Handmaid’s Tale, folks—the solons supporting it wouldn’t even last until the next election."

    Au contraire. Read Thomas Franks' excellent book, What's the Matter With Kansas?, and you'll realize those radical legislator throwbacks to the 16th century are doing what they doing secure in the knowledge they have the solid support of election-winning numbers of the "regular Republican-voting Americans" in Kansas.

  • rrk1 on April 02, 2013 9:28 PM:

    This is all about a bunch of insecure misogynists reacting to feminism and believing they have a god-given right to dominate and brutalize women - just to show 'em who's boss.

    These Rethug dominated state legislatures are an abomination, and one would hope women voters would throw these hapless and hopeless idiots into garbage filled dumpsters, which is a far better place than they deserve.

  • tolkien on April 02, 2013 10:14 PM:

    It wouldn't surprise me if Republicans hope the law gets challenged, and they get lucky and get Republican judges in local and district courts so that the case gets appealed all the way to the supreme court. If the supreme court overthrows DOMA on states' rights grounds, there is an excellent chance that conservatives can get Roe V. wade overthrown on states' rights grounds too, given the current makeup of the supreme court. That is probably their ultimate goal.

    Of course, should that happen, the Republicans will likely lose almost all women voters for decades to come, but they have no clue, because they just don't think about women's points of view.

  • Roddy McCorley on April 03, 2013 12:05 AM:

    ...the radical vision underlying such legislation—something straight out of the Handmaid’s Tale, folks...

    You've got that backwards. Handmaid's Tale comes straight out of the radical vision of the conservatives. Which should tell you something about how long they've been working at it, and how clear that is to anyone paying any attention at all.

    (I am, of course, quibbling.)

  • mothra on April 03, 2013 3:59 AM:

    I always thought that the Handmaid's Tale was a good book; but a little overblown. Boy was I wrong!

  • James M on April 03, 2013 5:59 AM:

    @Roberta in MN on April 02, 2013 4:21 PM:
    "This just makes me ill. I lived through the 60's and back room abortions. These people want us to have babies, but once out of the womb, don't want to help take care of them."

    This is something that has always confounded me concerning American conservatives. They will move heaven and earth to protect the unborn but the moment these children enter the world-if they are born in poverty-they scorn them as mooching 'welfare babies'. These same conservatives want to deny these children any assistance for food, housing or education.

    I am not being rhetorical here. If someone could explain this phenomenon to me I would me greatly appreciative!

  • gcwall on April 17, 2013 5:33 PM:

    A proof that pro-lifers are actually anti-women is the fact that most pro-lifers are also pro-death penalty. Their respect for life is cherry-picked, just as their religious beliefs. It is for this and many other reasons that a secular society is preferable to theocracies. Reason and logic are better determinants of positive outcomes than superstition and faith.