The Ed Show | February 07, 2013
>>> good to have you back with us tonight. for all its talk of rebranding, the republican party doesn't seem to have learned the lessons of the last election. the gop has resumed its war on women with republicans in michigan plotting the next battle. on tuesday republicans introduced a bill requiring all women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound before having an abortion. now, you may recall similar measures were introduced last year in virginia, but republicans backed off after serious pushback by a number of groups p tonight republicans in michigan seem to find themselves in a very similar predicament. house speaker jace bulger now says he has absolutely no interest in forcing a woman to have a transvaginal ultrasound . bulger vowed his chamber would not adopt any kind of legislation that would require the procedure. meanwhile, in tennessee republicans want to mandate a less invasive yet still medically unnecessary transabdominal ultrasound if a woman refuses to view the ultrasound image. now, the ultrasound technician would be required to describe the image to the patient and force her to listen to the fetal heartbeat. here's how the bill's sponsor, state senator jim tracy , explains his motivation. "my wife had three babies and i've had the opportunity to see three ultrasounds. it's pretty amazing to see the ultrasounds." yet the bill doesn't make any exceptions for victims of rape or incest and perhaps the most extreme out of touch bunch in america you'll find in iowa , where republicans have introduced a bill there that would define abortion as murder. as the "ames tribune" newspaper reports and says, those charged with murder under the bill would include a mother who takes abortion-inducing drugs or a doctor who performs an abortion. it also grants no exceptions for rape, insist, or to protect the life of the mother. so here we go again. i'm joined tonight by terry o'neil, president of the national organization for women . also with us tonight is nancy northon, who is the president for the center for reproductive rights . and actress martha plimpton joins us this evening. martha joins us from the set of her tv series "raising hope," which airs tuesdays on fox. great to have all of you with us tonight. terry, isn't this just more evidence, i mean, the republican party 's been talking about rebranding and here we are back at square one, they're back after the same old wars? what about it?
>> you know, ed, i think what they don't understand is that they need to change their policies. changing their rhetoric is not enough. and suddenly you have the legislator from michigan backing off. i don't believe they're really backing off that far. what they think they can do is use kinder, gentler language and still pursue a very extreme, really misogynist set of policies. the thing is that the voters are not fooled. and you know, it's not just women that are not fooled. male voters are with us. especially on keeping abortion safe and legal, especially in the earliest term of pregnancy, which is when over 90% of abortions are done.
>> martha , what do you make of what happened? it seems like political pressure in michigan may have turned this around. your thoughts on that.
>> well, you know, they got a national audience. you know, they had a lot more people look at them than i guess they expected to have. and when that happens, when the larger population of the united states becomes aware of these smaller bills or these smaller efforts in states or when they become aware they get mad because they recognize what's happening. these are laws that are essentially designed to codify coercion, to make coercion a law, that women be forced into doing something that is not only unnecessary but that they don't want. they also assume, these laws also assume that women don't understand the implications of what they're doing already. they assume that women are stupid and that we aren't aware of the biology of what's happening to us and that we haven't made our decision already when we've walked into that doctor's office. these laws also seek to undermine the relationship between patient and doctor, which is a very important, sacred relationship. and essentially, they're saying that the state has a stake in what you do with your body. and when the larger population -- when the american people get wind of that, they let you know that they do not like it.
>> nancy , republican governors have rejected the medicaid expansion. won't that also affect women in a great way?
>> well, of course. i mean, it was one of the things that was well promised in health care reform -s that low-income americans will be able to have access to good-quality health care . and of course with women it's essential that they get access to good-quality reproductive health care. so it's -- i want to say criminal that they're being excluded.
>> what do you make of iowa ? this is as aggressive as it's ever been. your thoughts.
>> well, i think what's happening in iowa isn't good. but what people have to understand, and this goes to martha 's point, is that there are so many of these restrictions on access to abortion that are flying under the radar screen. once in a while it pops up. but it's important that you're having this on your show tonight so that people realize, i mean, there have been 400 bills dropped in stitt legislatures this year just on access to abortion. and so it's important that we realize, yes, iowa , north dakota , mississippi, and arkansas --
>> it almost brings the women 's movement, martha , to a new age of activism. i mean, it's just got to be constant, doesn't it?
>> yes. and listen, i'm not thrilled that we have to do it, that we have to revisit this fight. there's a reason we had it in the first place. it's because before roe v. wade women were dying.
>> we know what life was like before women had access to the full range of reproductive health care services that are guaranteed by the constitution. we know what life was like for women before roe v. wade . and we're not willing to go back even if there are people in state legislatures who'd like to chip away at that right. we're remaining vigilant. and we have to. we absolutely have to remain vigilant.
>> turning to the violence against women act , it has protected women from domestic abuse for 18 years. it has had broad bipartisan support in the past. but now house majority leader eric cantor is blocking the bill's reauthorization by not bringing it to the floor for a vote. house republicans have objected to new provisions that expand protections for same-sex couples, also undocumented workers, and native american women . here's senator susan collins pleading to members of her own party earlier this week.
>> this is not and never should be a partisan issue. this is an equal opportunity crime that harms people regardless of their political affiliation , their profession, their location, their status in life. it is an issue that deserves bipartisan support.
>> terry, it sounds like republican leadership just isn't willing to listen to this. and this is discriminatory here. and they won't even bring it up for a vote.
>> you know, the kind of violence against women act that the republicans tried to pass in the house in the 112th congress, last time around, was accurately characterized as exclusionary, racist, and homophobic. and here comes eric cantor singing the same old tune. you know, in the 2012 elections the one thing that the republicans should have learned is they have a problem with women and they have a problem with women specifically on the issue of rape. you would think that knowing that they have that kind of a problem they would be willing to pass an inclusive version of it that is about to pass in the senate, it's about to pass in the senate. and what i am really eager to say is whether eric cantor remains adamant about not allowing tribal authorities to have jurisdiction over rape suspects.
>> he just gave a speech earlier this week about where the republican party 's got to go. nancy , what does this tell you?
>> well, all of it tells us that we have to get back to thinking about the well-being of women . as you said, it has to be about women and the men who support them, saying enough is enough. drawing the line. we're not going to have this. women should have access across the nation to reproductive health care. they should have the same rights in mississippi that they have in new york. and they should be safe everywhere.
>> how vulnerable does this make women now?
>> you know, the appropriations are still there right now for the services provided under the violence against women act .
>> i mean, when did this become political?
>> honestly, it became political after the 2010 elections, which is the first federal elections cycle after the citizens united case. when you give extreme right-wing leaders of huge multinational corporations a green light to go and buy all the elections they want to buy, which the supreme court did in citizens united , you get this.
>> and you know, martha , when did it become political? i've got to ask you that same question too. the women against violence act.
>> well, listen, there's always been a desire, at least in, you know, my lifetime to politicize women 's bodies and women 's health. that is something that, you know, the women 's rights movement has struggled against for many, many generations before ours. what's important is that we remember that our health and our lives are not political tools and that american women reclaim not only their rights but their voices and actually get engaged and speak out and make sure that they are actually participating in claiming -- you know, we may not all agree on what the end game is for our lives as we live them. but we must agree on every single american's right to live their life as they see fit and to experience physical autonomy. and one of the ways that we can do that is by ensuring that women have the right to access abortion and other reproductive health care services and also recognizing that women deserve and have the right to speak out about being protected in their homes and their workplaces and et cetera with the violence against women act .
>> martha plimpton , thank you for your time tonight. nancy northup and terry o'neill. always great to have you with us tonight on "the ed show." thanks for joining us.
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