Lies and Distortions in the GOP Debate, and ‘The Sisters Are Alright’

On this episode of Reality Cast, Tamara Winfrey Harris, author of The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America, tackles some ugly stereotypes about Black women. Also, host Amanda Marcotte discusses Bobby Jindal's weird ideas about how sexual health care works and round two of the Republican debates.

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On this episode of Reality Cast, Tamara Winfrey Harris tackles some ugly stereotypes about Black women. Bobby Jindal has weird ideas about how sexual health care works and it’s time for round two of the Republican debates.

Amber Rose, who rose to fame as a model in hip-hop videos, has been speaking out against slut-shaming, which she gets a lot of both because of her profession and because she’s dated famous men. She did a video for Funny or Die where she imagined a world where people had a better attitude about female sexuality, called the Walk of No Shame, where she’s walking home in her club clothes after a night of casual sex.

  • No Shame *

It does a good job of showing why it’s absurd to act any other way about it.


So the Republicans had another debate last Wednesday, this time on CNN instead of Fox. I hate to say this, but the Fox one was better. Both debates drove me up the wall because the moderators simply allowed the candidates to lie their heads off without correcting them. Yes, I realize that people like me can do that work online, but it’s not as effective. They need to whip out a buzzer and hit it every time some candidate says something that is straight up not true. Of course, that means during the discussion of abortion and Planned Parenthood, the buzzer would be going off every few seconds. It’s hard to say who lied the hardest, but the person who lied the most luridly has got to be Carly Fiorina.

  • debate 1 *

Yeah, no, that didn’t happen. Anti-choicers keep sending me videos, even with timestamps, that they claim show this, but it doesn’t. It just doesn’t. As Emily Crockett explains at Rewire, in one of the misleading videos created by the Center for Medical Progress, there are a couple of images that they edited in from other sources. One shows a stillborn baby, which has nothing to do with abortion and which the family in question did not give to them. The other is some anti-choice stock imagery. But neither image has anything to do with the claims made by the woman who claims she saw this stuff. They want you to think they filmed this happening, but in fact it’s just more trickery. It’s not even good trickery, which is why I doubt very much that Fiorina sincerely thinks that she saw what she says she saw.

But while that whopper, with its vividness, got most of the attention, there were some other ones that are jaw-droppers, too. Like Ted Cruz.

  • debate 2 *

Every word of that is a lie. The videos, especially if you watch the unedited versions, actually prove the opposite: Repeatedly on them, Planned Parenthood officials clearly and repeatedly state that they do not and will not and have not sold any fetal tissue. They do talk about donating the tissue, with patient consent, which is 100 percent legal and which Dr. Ben Carson has personally benefited from, as he did research on such donated tissue. The only other option for the tissue, which these people pretending to be outraged refuse to acknowledge, is tossing it in biohazard. His claim that this is for profit is tautological in its untruth. Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit, with the financial disclosures that come with that. They cannot, by definition, profit.

Chris Christie told an even bigger lie, if you can believe it.

  • debate 3 *

So he took the lie that Planned Parenthood sells fetal body parts and builds on it, arguing, it seems, that it’s systematic and that the purpose of abortion is to get to this fetal tissue.

Let’s think about that for a minute.

Does Christie think women get pregnant on purpose, so that they can go down to the abortion clinic and sell the fetal tissue? In the real world, the tissue is donated and women cannot profit off it. So even if you think women would do that, they can’t. Or maybe he thinks that Planned Parenthood is kidnapping women and forcing abortion on them in order to get at the fetal tissue? Again, nope. We know why women get abortions. In the vast majority of cases, it’s because they got pregnant on accident and can’t or don’t want to have a baby right now. There are some cases where women want to have a baby, but can’t for medical reasons. And then there are some that are rape cases. That’s about it. Not many reasons outside of that. Most fetal tissue is thrown out. In a few cases, often with medically necessary abortions, women donate the tissue for medical research. But that is not why Planned Parenthood or legal abortion exists. If you banned fetal tissue research tomorrow, abortion would still be necessary and in demand.

But of course, these supposedly outraged politicians have yet to actually suggest banning fetal tissue donation if it bugs them so much. Instead, every single politician on stage recommending cutting off contraception and cancer screening funding instead. Because that’s what they are really after, not fetal tissue donation programs.




While radical anti-choicers in Congress keep running around and posturing about how they’re going to shut down the government rather than let the federal government continue to give money to Planned Parenthood to buy condoms, in the State of Louisiana, things are getting really ugly. Using the hoax videos that falsely accuse Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue as a pretense, Gov. Bobby Jindal ordered Medicaid in his state to stop letting their patients go to Planned Parenthood. It’s clear this is just a pretense, and not just because the accusations are false. Jindal has been steadily chipping away at sexual health-care services generally for years now. This is just a continuation of that process, with a clear end goal of completely ending government-subsidized contraception, STI testing and treatment, and basically any sexual health care that isn’t prenatal care.

Jindal’s hostility to the very idea of sexual health care was evident in a recent interview with Iowa talk radio host Simon Conway.

  • Jindal 1 *

Har har. Of course, what Jindal neglects to mention is that he’s been slashing budgets for sexual health care for years and years now, as Kyle Kulinski from Secular Talk Radio pointed out.

  • Jindal 2 *

There are only two Planned Parenthood clinics in all of Louisiana and they handle about 30 percent of the publicly funded contraception services in the entire state. In other words, the reason that Louisiana has so many public health problems is not because Planned Parenthood is bad at their job, but because it’s impossible to do a better job when you’re underfunded, geographically restricted, and under constant attack from the politicians in your state. But I suspect that when Jindal expresses skepticism about Planned Parenthood, it isn’t about their competence at all, which most observers on the ground say is excellent. I suspect he’s hostile to the idea of sexual health care in and of itself. Because there’s this theory, in anti-choice circles, that providing sexual health care is what causes problems like STIs and unintended pregnancy. The American Life League has a video explaining this theory.

  • Jindal 3 *

After asserting that masturbation is a gateway drug that leads to the supposedly hard stuff, he continues.

  • Jindal 4 *

By the way, you don’t hit puberty in high school, like he says. You hit it in middle school. But overall, you get the idea. And let’s be clear, they aren’t just talking about kids, as the video goes on to fear-monger about sex education on college campuses. It’s clear, throughout, that the idea is that the belief is that people have little to no natural desire to have sex until they’re taught to want it. So why do they believe that Planned Parenthood is deviously trying to convert people from their natural, sex-hating state to one where they desire sex?

  • Jindal 5 *

So that, I suspect, is the theory that is driving not just Jindal’s joke about how Planned Parenthood somehow causes STIs and unintended pregnancy, but behind his entire drive to run them out of his state. Indeed, this was made more clear recently in court documents filed by Louisiana to justify cutting Medicaid patients off from Planned Parenthood. The state argued that women could just get medical care elsewhere, and submitted a list of over 2,000 other places they claimed would take them. However, it turned out that only 29 of those places offer family planning services, and of those who do, many have a waiting list of months or are not taking new patients at all. In other words, the message was that women can go to a doctor, but only if they want something besides sexual health care. This isn’t about abortion or even, ultimately, about Planned Parenthood. It’s about telling women that the only sexual health care they need is to shut their legs and read the Bible, and to only have sex to make babies.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, altars of Baal edition. In this one, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) accuses pro-choicers of demonic worship based around child sacrifice. And yes, I think he means literally.

  • Baal *

Sometimes I get the feeling that anti-choicers have confused real life with some kind of fantasy role-playing game, like they are Buffy the Vampire Slayer breaking up demon gangs, except that Buffy didn’t hate women. Rest assured, women don’t get abortions because they are demon-worshippers who derive either magical powers or sexual satisfaction from baby-killing. They are people who don’t want to have a baby right now and so are terminating a pregnancy long before the fetus and, in most cases, the embryo inside develops into a baby. That is demonic baby-killing in the same way that planting half a packet of tomato seeds and throwing the rest away is tearing down the rain forest.