Jansing and Co | March 08, 2012
>>> today is the 101st women 's day and today it was marked with a warning.
>> today, a shadow has been cost over this day of celebration by efforts to turn back the clock here in washington, d.c. and across the country. efforts that we all must fight back against.
>> tennis legend billy jean kings is joining the democrats to stop what they call the war on women . king writes, quote, some called my tennis match against bobby riggs the battle of the sexes but republicans right now are waging an epic battle against women 's healthcare choices. this battle extends beyond capitol hill . it's also being waged in state houses across the nation. we asked msnbc's richard louie to look into that.
>> good morning to you, chris. democrats warn here that 2012 is the war on women and states hold the battle flag tight. 430 reproductive related bills surfaced in the first two months in state legislatures . at the current rate, we could see 1,170 bills by year's end. that would best 2011 when 1,100 bills surfaced said the guttmacher institute . that resulted in 92 laws in 24 states being enacted. three to fuhr times the numbers passed a year before. 2012 could be a record. oklahoma as you just saw there, its senate approved a bill tuesday requiring doctors to tell women they can listen to the fetus' heart beat before an abortion. also this week, three abortion bills made it out of committee in mississippi despite earlier protests. those bills there, the author is saying it would stop 90% of abortions in the state . then in texas, the state cut women 's health services funding by two-thirds last year. and an additional $35 million could be lost if republican lawmakers get their way. many democrats believe these state fights could end up challenging roe v. wade . what would america look like without roe? only seven states would protect abortion rights and 24 would make or have the intent to make abortion illegal. this is what that would look like. ohio state senator nina turner scoffs at this picture saying what's good for the goose is good for the gander. her bill says that men wanting viagra should be seen by a sex therapist .
>>> i'm joined by the host of "now by alex wagner". good morning to you both. alex , 1,170 bills potentially by year's end. what do you make of this?
>> it's staggering, chris, because i think we have gone from the debate over abortion which as you know has been incredibly heated to an argument over a real -- i use the word war because i think if you look at what's happening in the state houses across the country a war on women 's health. we are talking about defunding not just planned parenthood , but organizations that provide abortions. cl clinics that offer breast exams and they're under assault in state houses pause that i -- it's almost mccarthyism from the right. if you're associated with abortion providers you will get no funding.
>> michelle, the democratic congressional committee has raised a million dollars over the sandra fluke controversy. do you think the republicans have handed them a gift in rallying the base?
>> absolutely, they have handed the democratic party and barack obama and -- a very, very early and wonderful christmas gift. if you're a democrat in congress and if you're president obama , you know, historically we have an enormous gender gap in this country. more women than men historically vote in presidential elections and more women , more often than not vote democratic versus republican. going into the primary and into the general election in 2012 , the women 's vote we are seeing is more and more important. now, obviously we know that women are not a monolithic voting group. most women are not single issue voters, but this is not an issue that just boils down to abortion rights or reproductive rights . all women believe in individual liberty . they believe in individual freedoms and this is an assault on the very essence of what it is to be a woman. whether we are talking about defunding planned parenthood , to whether or not we can legitimately ask and i think it's a very legitimate question to ask do the republican candidates running for president right now care not only about women , but care about low income women because these are the women who are --
>> i thought it was very instructive the silence when rush limbaugh said what he said about sandra fluke. again, unlikely support from bill maher who said, i hate to defend rush limbaugh , but he did apologize. and also, hate discrimination by sponsor pullout. does he have a point?
>> bill maher -- look, i don't know. if we're talking about sort of party lines and the deafening silence from the gop contenders on this, rush limbaugh is almost a de facto spokesperson for the republican party . this was a moment for mitt romney and rick santorum to come out and i really say mitt romney because he's the one that's sort of more inclined to be the moderate on this stuff and come out and give a vocal, vocal defense of women 's rights and women 's health care . you heard nothing. you heard nothing from gop party elders . so when you have somebody like rush limbaugh dominating the media space with hate-filled and i think derogatory, misogynist commentary.
>> and rush limbaugh said what is it with all the young, single white women overeducated, doesn't mean intelligent. the woman he was talking about is tracie mcmillan, the author of the new book "the american way of eating." good morning.
>> good morning.
>> he also mocked the fact that you won the 2006 james aaronson award for social justice journalism. what did you think when you heard what he was saying?
>> right, you know, i didn't realize that anybody would ever have a problem with me working really hard getting through school and doing my job, so i'm a reporter. so i did my job as a reporter. i went and talked to working families about how food works in their lives. i did my job and i have no idea why rush or anybody else, you know, thinks it's wrong for someone to go to college and do their work.
>> yeah, overeducated with your bachelor's degree. i guess it's not a good thing to win an award for social journalism. maybe he doesn't like the idea of having a social conscience. but you believe rush limbaugh doesn't think women count. do you have a sense and you have been out and you have been working in jobs and different parts of the country to write this book, do you have a sense of this sort of backlash against -- i don't know what else to call it, a modern woman?
>> i have to say, you know, i have worked in a lot of working class jobs in the last year and also growing up. there's always some guys that are jerks and clearly don't respect you just because you're a female. and there's a lot of men that really appreciate and love and respect women . so i don't think it's a blanket problem, you know, with working class men in america . but, i think my dad has a really good line on this, which is like, well, there's always going to be someone who's a real jerk and who talks too much and doesn't think about what he's saying. so i sort of feel like, you know, we're sort of engaging with that here. a lot of men i have to say like are intimidated when there's an intelligent woman that can take them on. so i think there might be something going on here with that.
>> that do you think is going on here, michelle? i don't want to pretend that you're channeling rush limbaugh , but what is the point?
>> i'm so perplexed i can't begin to fathom what could actually be going on. i don't know if he believes what he is saying or whether he is entertaining his audience. i just -- i don't know. but what i can tell you that i strongly feel is regardless what his true believes are, this is hurting the republican party . alex was right when she talked of the silence being deafening. it is time for one of the republican candidates who is running for the highest office of our land to tell us do they believe that women count? do they believe that women are important? do they believe in individual rights ? this is a question of character and of morality and one of them needs to speak out.
>> you know, we have said for a very long time, alex , that in the end this is really about the economy. but i do wonder given that not so long ago, not so many months ago a lot of people were saying there is not going to be enthusiasm for voting this year. that the excitement that barack obama created is gone in 2012 . but i wonder if this is an issue that will get those suburban soccer moms who have frankly, you know, changed a lot of these in suburban philadelphia, in suburban columbus, ohio, who have changed the outcomes of elections to get back involved.
>> look, this is hot topic stuff. this is red meat . i think it will motivate the women . we look at the exit polling from ohio. rick santorum does very well with married women . mitt romney does very well with unmarried and working women . there's going to be a divide there. i think doubling down though on this rhetoric, if we talk about sort of the course we are on as a country is a bad thing for america . and i think at the end of the day , i sound like a politician here, but my bet is with the american people really caring about the substance of what's going on. that's the economy. that's foreign policy . this stuff is a distraction. legislatively and locally and on the state level there's a lot happening, and to that extent much more needs to be paid attention to.
>> alex wagner. thank you. tracie mcmillan, congratulations belatedly on that award and i guess your chance to speak out about this. thank you so much for coming on.
>> yeah, thanks.
>> we'll be right back. t