Misleading Portrayals of Abortion in the House Judiciary Committee and Onscreen

On this episode of Reality Cast, host Amanda Marcotte discusses the so-called Planned Parenthood hearing and the Kim Davis saga. Also, Gretchen Sisson talks about the portrayal of abortion in movies.

Related Links

Ultraviolet abortion ad

Louie Gohmert’s unconvincing rant

Rep. Trent Franks thinks abortion is worst thing that ever happened

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner will pretend he wants to feed children to cut contraception funding, but don’t be fooled

Tony Perkins spouting misinformation

Trying to turn loss into victory

Shepard Smith speaks truth

Attacking healthy masculinity

Healthy Masculinities Week


On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be covering the awful so-called Planned Parenthood hearing and the Kim Davis saga. Also, Gretchen Sisson on the portrayal of abortion in movies.

Ultraviolet has been running an ad about abortion deemed “controversial” by some squeamish advertisers, including and bafflingly those at Gawker Media. Jezebel, which is owned by Gawker, did, however, post the ad on their main website. Apparently simply stating facts is controversial these days.

  • Ultraviolet *

Good on Jezebel for immediately front-paging the ad, which probably gave it more views anyway. But it’s an utter shame that something as simple as stating basic, measurable facts about abortion is treated as controversial to advertisers.


The Planned Parenthood hoax just keeps dragging on and on as conservatives try to squeeze every last drop of faux outrage as they can over false accusations against the organization for supposedly selling fetal body parts, an accusation which has repeatedly been shown to be fabricated and for which there is absolutely no evidence. Things got even more surreal last week, when congressional Republicans decided to hold a hearing over the accusations, though I hesitate to use the word “hearing.”

The idea of a hearing is that you hear evidence on an issue. This, by and large, did not happen. No one from Planned Parenthood was invited to share the organization’s side of the story. Quite literally, only one invited speaker managed to say things that were reality-based at all. That person was Priscilla J. Smith of Yale Law, who reminded everyone that the videos accusing Planned Parenthood of this are utter and complete nonsense, created by creative editing but not actually providing a single iota of proof. But mostly it was an opportunity for a bunch of self-righteous woman-loathing politicians to speechify about things they don’t understand but they know they don’t like, such as women making their own choices and people who think women have a right to do that.

First up, we have Louie Gohmert of Texas, most recently seen threatening to quit Congress to protest Obama trying to avoid war with Iran. He thought this was a very convincing argument against women’s right to choose abortion.

  • PPFA 1 *

Ugh, men who call women “females.” You know, not one man who makes this argument would hesitate to call a feminist a man-hater just because she has a boyfriend. Which is beside the point, as feminists are not man-haters, because we don’t want to strip men of their rights, but anti-choicers absolutely are woman-haters because they want to literally force us to give birth against our wills. Kind of definitional, really. And the claim that you can’t hate women because you saw some on a TV show is particularly laughable, especially to listeners of this podcast. I quote Outnumbered all the time on this show, so listeners are aware that they exist mostly to put some of the most outrageously misogynist statements floating around out there in women’s mouths to make it seem more okay. So really, if you’re a fan of that show, at least in a non-ironic way, that’s exhibit 2 in the proof of your misogyny. Exhibit 1 being, you know, the desire to force childbirth on women to punish them for having sex.

  • PPFA 2 *

Yep, he went for the baby-eating thing. Which is your weekly reminder that the anti-choice movement is not, on its merits, substantively different than people who believe that heavy metal records lead to Satanic orgies or that if you say “bloody Mary” in the mirror three times, a demon will come out and kill you. I thought they’d learned that the baby-eating accusation would make them look like a bunch of deranged yokels, but I guess not. Indeed, this was far from the only old school anti-choice moment of the hearing. You also had Rep. Trent Franks, who seems to have been watching that 1980s anti-abortion film Silent Scream.

  • PPFA 3 *

Mmmmmm….sounds scientific. Also, love how letting women terminate pregnancies is the worst human rights atrocity, like ever. So, he’s literally saying that it’s worse than the genocide of Native Americans. Worse than hundreds of years of enslaving African-Americans, which led to quite a few actual children dying terribly, by the way. Worse than the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. Worse than Jim Crow. He’s literally saying that letting women decide if and when they give birth is worse than all that. And people scoff when I suggest that the anti-choice movement is being driven entirely by anti-choicers having major issues when it comes to sex and gender.

It’s also clear when you hear rhetoric like this that it’s about something else, as well. It’s about conservatives trying to convince themselves they are good people despite opposing basically all social progress. This is a man who is telling himself that even though he fights against racial equality and makes apologies for things like the Confederacy, he’s still a good guy, because he’s decided that abortion is worse than things like slavery.

Then we had this shining example of hypocrisy, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.

  • PPFA 4 *

A couple of things here. 1) The money in question is Title X and Medicaid funding. The proposal is not to eliminate either funding stream, but to simply redivert the funds. Cutting Planned Parenthood’s budget will not feed one hungry child. On the contrary, Brookings Institute’s analysis shows that the subsidized contraception that Republicans are trying to take away from women saves money. They found that $235 million spent on contraception nets a whopping $1.32 billion in savings. You can feed a lot of hungry kids with the money you save! 2) Sensenbrenner doesn’t care about hungry kids. He voted to slash billions from the food stamp program he is pretending to care about here. He voted against expanding the children’s health care program. If you’re born, you can starve to death or die from lack of medical treatment, for all he cares. But if you’re an embryo and useful for punishing your mother for having sex? Then he cares. Hell, since this hearing was aimed at cutting off Planned Parenthood’s contraception funding, I won’t even go that far. Sensenbrenner cares more about embryos that haven’t even been made yet than he does actual children. Making sure sperm meets egg and puts you into a situation you don’t want? That’s more important than anything else could possibly be.




The hysteria over contraception funding and abortion access wasn’t the only right wing nonsense going on last week. Hell, it didn’t even get the most headlines. No, that honor goes to the circus swirling around Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky who got it in her head that her religious freedom somehow means she gets to stop gay couples from getting marriage licenses. And yes, I mean stop. There seems to be some confusion, or what I suspect is outright lying, by conservative pundits on this fact. Such as Tony Perkins and Megyn Kelly.

  • Davis 1 *

That is simply untrue. I don’t think she should be allowed to sit on her hands and refuse to do the job she’s paid to do just because a gay couple comes in. However, it’s also irrelevant. The judge offered her that option and she refused. Her deputies wanted to issue the licenses, but she was not letting them. This isn’t even remotely confusing. There’s a lot of squawking about “religious freedom”, but what Davis wants, simply put, is the right to declare that everyone else in her county has to follow her religious beliefs or they don’t get to get married. And she will stop you from trying to get someone else to help you. As soon as she was arrested, the deputies popped right up and offered the licenses, because they grasp this basic fact that religious freedom means allowing others to believe what they want. Indeed, because the deputies were freed up to issue the licenses, Davis was allowed out of jail, which she left with great fanfare, with “Eye of the Tiger” playing and Mike Huckabee, of course, on hand to hustle the rubes as hard as he could.

  • Davis 2 *

Oh yeah, they were trying to make it seem like they had won some big victory when she got out of jail, but yeah, no. Her entire stand was for two things: The ability to stop other people from getting married and the right not to face consequences, such as losing her job, for depriving others of religious liberty. She failed, utterly and completely. She did face consequences, namely jail. She did not stop the marriages. She had to touch Mike Huckabee. They can play whatever loud rock songs they want, but they can’t hide the fact that this effort was an utter failure that should embarrass everyone involved. At least one person at Fox News, Shepard Smith, was unafraid to point this out.

  • Davis 3 *

Exactly. Davis’s lawyers were throwing a Hail Mary, hoping they could create an uprising of county clerks that refuse to sign the licenses and therefore they could create an extralegal method to ban gay marriage even though the courts said no. It was never about “accommodation” and never has been, not when it’s about gay marriage or birth control or whatever else they want to take away from you and claim it’s for their religious freedom. They were hoping to model it, I suspect, on the way that white Southerners joined together to re-segregate the schools after Brown v. Board by creating private schools that banned Black students and collectively enrolling their kids in them. But the blunt fact of the matter is there was no evidence for this political will. More people disapproved of interracial marriage when it was legalized. They had a really hard time finding even one county clerk that cared enough about this to do this for them. This was a loser case from the beginning, and no amount of Rocky III songs at rallies will change the fact that it ended as an even bigger loser than they could have anticipated.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, I want my men to be unhealthy edition. Or I don’t, but apparently the entire conservative media does, because they were exploding in anger at the thought of Vanderbilt University having a “healthy masculinities” week. Outnumbered, of course, had an outraged segment on it, complete with homophobic jokes and then this tantrum from Andrea Tantaros.

  • Tantaros *

Well, I looked at the courses and none of them were about being thumb-sucking betas. They had titles like “The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt and How All Men Can Help” and “Maintaining ‘Bro’ Status: Fraternity Men Discuss Masculinity and Mental Health.” So it sounds like men helping each other get past stifling gender roles that teach them that so-called real men stifle their emotions, don’t have meaningful friendships, and are irrationally aggressive. They’re always on and on about how feminists supposedly hate men on Outnumbered, but the Fox News hosts are the only people I hear who are hating on men, shaming men for wanting to have better lives, and trying to deprive men of mental health care.