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June 09, 2014

You're Not Helping, Morons

This is the kind of mindless, clueless jackwagonry that is killing conservatives at the polls:

A group of male Michigan Republicans decided to answer critics of a controversial law requiring women to buy abortion insurance in case of a rape with an image of themselves holding women's fashion magazines. In what progressive groups are calling a poor attempt at humor, state House Republicans Peter Pettalia, Roger Victory, and Ben Glardon posed in the image posted to Twitter.

In the picture, the men pose with copies of Glamour and Harper's Bazaar to prove they care about women's concerns.

What should women like me, who have voted for conservatives consistently for over 35 years, take from this? That these jackasses think reading fashion magazines is a good way to become informed on public policy issues that affect women?

That women shouldn't expect politicians to care about these issues because they're frivolous and silly? You know... kind of like reading women's mags?

I have no problem whatsoever with insurance policies not covering abortions that aren't medically necessary to save a pregnant woman's life. Given that pregnancy is easily avoidable by using inexpensive birth control, it's not at all unreasonable to expect women to bear the cost of birth control and exercise reasonable care to prevent unwanted pregnancies. I say that as someone who was 2 1/2 months pregnant when she married, by the way. Someone who used birth control that failed. So I completely understand what it's like to be in this situation and was fully prepared to deal with it (and by "deal with it", I mean bear and raise our child) if the father of my child chose not to marry me.

It's called assumption of the risk, and it's something we used to expect grownups to do. Even grownups who are only 19 when they screw up (so to speak).

I have a very big problem with the State forcing a woman who was raped to bear a child she does not want, though I completely understand the arguments for preserving the lives of innocent children conceived by rapists. Wherever one comes down on this tremendously difficult issue, making light of it is just plain stupid and offensive.

There are credible ways to make the argument that don't involve being condescending and insulting. Of course that would require intelligence and self restraint.

Hint: when you manage to convince loyal, voting female conservatives that you're a monumental jackass, you're doing conservatism wrong.

Posted by Cassandra at June 9, 2014 07:05 AM

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Comments

Ha ha! Damn, that was funny! Now let's let's get one of us eating watermelon to show how much we understand minorities!

Imbeciles.

Posted by: spd rdr at June 9, 2014 09:48 AM

What should women like me, who have voted for conservatives consistently for over 35 years, take from this?

What were any of us supposed to take from it? I'm not sure I understand what they intended the symbolism to be. At first I thought it was intended as some kind of criticism of those magazines, e.g., the sexualizing effect they often have on the culture.

And since when would conservatives support a law permitting the sale of 'abortion insurance' -- let alone mandating it? That sounds like a march to the rear, double-time.

Posted by: Grim at June 9, 2014 10:04 AM

I can't even begin to imagine what was going on in these guys' heads. Who thought this was a good idea?

I've never been one to think opposition to abortion was motivated by sexism or by not caring about women. What offends me so much about EJ Dionne's screed is that he doesn't even bother to entertain (much less address) several very well founded objections to the Bergdahl swap. But I can see arguments on both sides quite easily, despite opposing the deal on the merits. Intelligent people ought to be able to do that, and I fear we are swiftly becoming Amerikkka for Dummies.

More and more, I see politics and public policy debates descending into parody and buffoonery.

We've got to be better than this.

Posted by: Cass at June 9, 2014 10:05 AM

...since when would conservatives support a law permitting the sale of 'abortion insurance' -- let alone mandating it? That sounds like a march to the rear, double-time.

That's a great point, Grim. Because I am not unalterably opposed to legal abortion in some cases, it wasn't obvious to me but why would anyone who considers abortion to be always wrong and thinks it should always be illegal be willing to support such a bill?

Posted by: Cass at June 9, 2014 10:07 AM

The Tweeting Republicans are idiots. Perhaps Republicans should impose on themselves a rule that requires any tweet by a male (or, for that matter, female) Republican that has anything at all to do with women, contraception, abortion, motherhood, or anything else even vaguely relating to "women's issues" be reviewed by a panel of twelve conservative women. Or Republicans could just run only female candidates for a while - that would be interesting.

However, there is no bill "mandating" that women buy abortion insurance in case of rape. That's just the Daily Mail repeating Mother Jones' "lie via word order choice". Following the links reveals that - as far as I can make it out from Mother Jones - Michigan (along with 23 other States) has prohibited (or is about to prohibit) insurance policies sold on the ObamaCare exchanges from covering insurance. Women aren't *required* to buy abortion insurance - they just can't get it through ObamaCare.

To quote from this article:

In the event that a woman couldn't obtain a coverage rider—or simply never anticipated needing one—she would have to pay out of pocket for a procedure that costs about $500 in the first trimester. In later stages or pregnancy, the costs grow exponentially.

"It's just outrageous," said Democratic state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer. "This is requiring that people have a plan for an unplanned pregnancy. It's absolutely ridiculous to make something like this the law." And in cases of rape or incest, it would amount to a stiff financial penalty, paid for by the victim.

There are so many things wrong with that paragraph that my courage fails me when I contemplate attempting to list them all.

Posted by: Elise at June 9, 2014 10:31 AM

Clueless jackwagonry is the leitmotif of Conservative Inc. It runs through it like crap through a fatted goose. Insensitivity may provide some little justification for being aggravated but it’s hardly worth the effort for an organization up to it’s neck in political muck. It’s like complaining the highwaymen had been ill mannered.

Posted by: George Pal at June 9, 2014 10:46 AM

If the idea was to persuade more voters that conservatives who oppose abortion are more worried about controlling and condescending to their chattels than about the survival of a human infant, Mission Accomplished.

It's hard to understand how a conservative expects to get elected by adopting a frivolous attitude toward either rape or abortion.

Posted by: Tevye at June 9, 2014 12:05 PM

That's me, of course. It keeps reverting.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 9, 2014 12:06 PM

Elise:

I think Twitter is just dumb and is the source of a lot of own goals for both sides :p Maybe a better rule for everyone would be "resist the urge to react on Twitter" :p

FWIW, I didn't think there was a bill *mandating* that anyone buy "rape insurance" - I took that as the usual dishonest progressive hyperbole.

What I thought was being proposed was that, if you want your insurance to cover abortion, you'll have to purchase a rider at your own expense. Which is easy to defend if we're talking about something over which one has actually control, but less easy to defend when it is applied to crime victims

I actually agree with Whitmer's second point (but not the first):

...in cases of rape or incest, it would amount to a stiff financial penalty, paid for by the victim.

If you're poor, $500 absolutely *is* a stiff financial penalty.

She has a valid point here, and wherever one comes down on the abortion-in-case-of-rape/incest debate, we should acknowledge that imposing such costs on victims of rape/incest absolutely *is* a consequence of not allowing ObamaCare policies to cover abortion ever, under any circumstances.

Posted by: Cass at June 9, 2014 01:03 PM

imposing such costs on victims of rape/incest absolutely *is* a consequence of not allowing ObamaCare policies to cover abortion ever, under any circumstances.

Except that allowing ObamaCare to cover abortion doesn't make that coverage free. A woman purchasing a policy that includes coverage for abortion is still going to pay for that coverage. It's just that the cost is going to be subsidized by other people who may object to paying for abortion under any circumstances. Or may be fine with paying for abortion in cases of rape or incest but not otherwise - but building that language into any insurance policy is simply going to provide an incentive for fraud.

Do I think a woman who is raped or is the victim of incest should have to pay for an abortion if she wants one? No, I do not. But I also don't think that someone who objects to abortion should be forced to fund her abortion. The solution is not to fight to the death over what government is or is not going to do; the solution is to set up a private fund to pay these costs.

Posted by: Elise at June 9, 2014 01:22 PM

Except that allowing ObamaCare to cover abortion doesn't make that coverage free. A woman purchasing a policy that includes coverage for abortion is still going to pay for that coverage. It's just that the cost is going to be subsidized by other people who may object to paying for abortion under any circumstances. Or may be fine with paying for abortion in cases of rape or incest but not otherwise - but building that language into any insurance policy is simply going to provide an incentive for fraud.

I don't disagree, but then I never maintained the coverage would be free :p

I don't really buy the argument that people who don't support X should not have their tax dollars used to support X (or even, necessarily, that people should never pay a higher price for some service they won't use/don't support for whatever reason). It's pretty well documented, for instance, that certain broadly identifiable classes of people pay higher prices for goods or services based on costs imposed by a minority of that class.

I don't support lots of things my government pays for with my tax dollars, but that's the price of living in a democratic republic.

Do I think a woman who is raped or is the victim of incest should have to pay for an abortion if she wants one? No, I do not. But I also don't think that someone who objects to abortion should be forced to fund her abortion.

I haven't really decided whether I agree with this or not, Elise. What about women who don't want children themselves (or even have a heartfelt belief that we shouldn't be bringing children into such a cruel, cruel world)? These people are oxygen thieves, but they do exist. Why should they pay higher premiums that support "breeding"?

I continue to believe that the moral connection between subsidizing a health insurance policy and the use of that policy is EXTREMELY tenuous. I can't see holding a person morally culpable for an abortion, for instance, simply because the cost of including abortions was included in all policies by the insurer.

There's really no obvious causal relationship there that I can see and I think this way of thinking is a bit of a slippery slope. I do understand the arguments - it's just that I find them really unconvincing.

Sorry :(

Posted by: Cass at June 9, 2014 03:15 PM

What about women who don't want children themselves (or even have a heartfelt belief that we shouldn't be bringing children into such a cruel, cruel world)? These people are oxygen thieves, but they do exist. Why should they pay higher premiums that support "breeding"?

They shouldn't. It should be possible to buy a health insurance policy that doesn't include maternity care or doesn't include coverage for children or doesn't include coverage for Viagra or doesn't include coverage for whatever.

I don't support lots of things my government pays for with my tax dollars, but that's the price of living in a democratic republic.

Agreed but three things. First, to me, this is an argument for making the government's role as small as possible. That is, the slippery slope doesn't necessarily lead someplace I don't want to go. Second, abortion is a special case since asking people to subsidize the cost of abortion is seen, quite sincerely, by some as being asked to subsidize murder. That's qualitatively different than being asked to subsidize food stamps or agricultural subsidies. Three, to me religious objections are different from "I don't like this policy" objections. I believe there is a positive value to carving out space for religion in the public sphere.

Sorry for re-iterating the arguments you already understand - I get kind of wound up about this.

Posted by: Elise at June 9, 2014 03:31 PM

They shouldn't. It should be possible to buy a health insurance policy that doesn't include maternity care or doesn't include coverage for children or doesn't include coverage for Viagra or doesn't include coverage for whatever.

Well, I agree with that :p Dang!

I appreciate your courteous response all the more knowing this is an issue you feel very strongly about.

Posted by: Cass at June 9, 2014 03:45 PM

So their actual position was that State Exchange ACA policies (which are the object if the individual mandate) shouldn't cover abortion, and their opponents chose to describe this as forcing women to buy abortion insurance? In other words, the people who actually want to force everyone to buy abortion insurance were accusing them of wanting to force women to buy abortion insurance?

I am beginning to understand why they felt a flippant response was appropriate.

I suppose the lesson is that abortion is never a joking matter. Still, what gall!

Posted by: Grim at June 9, 2014 03:58 PM

In other words, the people who actually want to force everyone to buy abortion insurance were accusing them of wanting to force women to buy abortion insurance?

Honestly Grim, I just don't see it that way.

There are medical procedures covered by insurance that I will never have for all sorts of reasons.

I agree with you all that having government specify the minimum set of services that will be covered is BS. At the same time, passing a law that says something like "X umbrella category of treatments/procedures must be covered" isn't tantamount to "forcing everyone to buy 'Subset of X' insurance".

I'm "forced" right now to pay for all sorts of coverage neither I nor my family is likely to want or need because my employer only offers one policy plan. There's no "choice": I can take it or leave it. Obamacare has nothing to do with that, really.

That's the case with most policies even before the UnAffordable Care Act - if you wanted some sort of "a la carte", customized policy that the company didn't already offer, you were going to pay extra for it because custom policies cost companies extra to administer.

There are people who see little/no moral difference between voluntary sterilization and abortion, yet most insurance policies cover getting your tubes tied or a vasectomy. Does that "force everyone to buy voluntary sterilization insurance"?

If it does, does government need to ensure that no one is ever "forced" to subsidize (even in an *extremely* indirect manner) anything they don't personally approve of or may not want/need?

That's the slippery slope. It was once a crime in many states for a married couple to buy/use birth control. I don't think that's a desirable end state. And I don't think unlimited, taxpayer subsidized abortion on demand is a desirable end state either.

All this talk of "forcing" makes little sense when the fact is that we're all "forced" to pay - through group premiums - for things we'll never want/need already. I'm "forced" to pay more because I'm a woman, but I'm a woman past childbearing age. I go to the doctor far less than most women do - that's a lifestyle choice. But I still pay for other women's comparatively greater use of medical services.

I could make a joke about all this talk of "forcing", but I won't :p

Posted by: Cass at June 9, 2014 05:00 PM

Take from this? That those who play politics as a zero-sum game should understand the concept of "own goal" if they want to remain competitive. This begs for a Downfall parody, Hitler annoyed at Republican Leadership ...

Posted by: htom at June 9, 2014 05:05 PM

Just as a side note: I have to wonder exactly how many individuals and employers refused to do business with insurers who voluntarily covered abortion BEFORE the ACA was passed?

I wonder how many people whose religious beliefs teach that birth control or voluntary sterilization are sinful even bothered to check whether their insurer or policy covered those things and went elsewhere if it did?

I'm guessing "not many" - it simply wasn't a deal killer until the government ordered insurers to do what many of them were already doing.

Theoretically, if subsidizing abortion or birth control was immoral and wrong, these people had a duty to make sure they weren't connected to it in *any* way, no matter how indirect. Even buying a non-abortion covering policy from a company that offers policies that cover abortion effectively subsidizes it.

Posted by: Cass at June 9, 2014 05:06 PM

Hi Cass,
And hope you are well today.
While I agree w you 100% on the underlying issues, don't quite understand why you are this angry over dumb stodgy pols being unaware of how this goofy tactic might be viewed.
'More and more, I see politics and public policy debates descending into parody and buffoonery.'
>*Surprise!*. Sometimes the guys (or gals - Ernst) that support the policies we prefer will say/do dumb things. This is a tempest in a teapot.

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at June 9, 2014 05:07 PM

' These people are oxygen thieves, but they do exist.'
Brilliant line!

Posted by: CAPT Mike at June 9, 2014 05:13 PM

...don't quite understand why you are this angry over dumb stodgy pols being unaware of how this goofy tactic might be viewed.

I'm not sure where you get the idea that I think every story I am annoyed by rises to the level of a "tempest" (or anything even close to that)?

That said,

1. spd nailed it earlier. If you know your party's positions have unfairly been described as a #WARONWOMEN!!!!!11!!ELEVENTY, it is unforgivably stupid to hand live rounds to the opposition.

2. The entire stunt come off as basically contemptuous of women. And yes, I would object just as much if they did something that came off as contemptuous of male voters or issues of particular concern to men.

A bunch of female pols tweeting pics of them reading Playboy/Penthouse and facetiously claiming "We do too understand men and their political concerns!" would be just as idiotic and offensive, for all the same reasons.


Posted by: Cass at June 9, 2014 05:22 PM

At the same time, passing a law that says something like "X umbrella category of treatments/procedures must be covered" isn't tantamount to "forcing everyone to buy 'Subset of X' insurance".

You and I have very different intuitions about some of these insurance-related issues. However, in the current case we are talking about people who would like the law to include abortion coverage as a standard feature of all plans; and would like the purchase of such plans to be mandatory. (Indeed they would ideally like to dispose of the plans entirely, and mandate that everyone just pay taxes for a Canadian-stye system that would, of course, cover abortion.)

So I think it's a fair cop: those painting these Republicans as 'backing a law to force women to buy abortion insurance' would actually like to force women (and everyone else) to buy abortion insurance. At least, until they can get single-payer.

Posted by: Grim at June 9, 2014 07:22 PM

How did we get so far from the point of this post (that taking selfies of yourself reading fashion mags and posting them on Twitter is not a great way to convince women that you take them seriously or understand their concerns)?

... in the current case we are talking about people who would like the law to include abortion coverage as a standard feature of all plans; and would like the purchase of such plans to be mandatory.

That is what the current federal law mandates. I don't agree with that law, as you already know, for a number of reasons.

If I understand the Michigan bill correctly (I may not - not sure I trust Mother Jones to get it right) in the other case we're talking about people who would like state law to *forbid* direct inclusion of abortion coverage in ANY insurance plan, public or private, offered via a state exchange. Actually, I just read the bill and what it seems to do is make it a crime for doctors to seek reimbursement from any policy offered by a state exchange for a legal abortion. God help them if they make a clerical error - they will be fined $10,000.

If this article is correct, the state law also "forces" insurers to violate federal law:

... the state “opt-out” rider law clashes with provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which outlaws both separate riders and any government subsidy of abortion.Under federal law, insurers cannot offer a rider to a standard, inclusive policy. And the new state law bars insurers from including elective abortion coverage in any policy, on or off the exchange.

Industry experts say the federal and state laws work against each other. The result? The promise of optional coverage is largely a mirage for those not employed by large companies.

Group insurance isn’t affected by the federal health care reform, so some of the state’s largest insurers — including Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, Health Alliance Plan and United Health Care — are offering riders to large group customers. Group insurance for companies with under 50 employees may be available with the rider — but that remains to be seen.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140508/METRO06/305080044#ixzz34BwZqqA9

If this is correct (I don't have time to research it fully) then this is the dumbest.bill.ever.

Mandate and forbid are two sides of the same coin, Grim. The practical effect of this law is that there are no insurance riders available to women who purchase their own policies and insurance companies must decide which set of laws they will be forced to break: federal or state.

Posted by: Cass at June 9, 2014 08:33 PM

Also, I'd like to reiterate my earlier question:

How many folks refused to do business in any way with insurance companies who offered policies that cover abortion or birth control before ObamaCare on the grounds that this would amount to helping people use birth control or have abortions?

It's a fair question. I'd love to know the answer.

Posted by: Cass at June 9, 2014 08:34 PM

I don't object to the question being answered; I don't have any way to answer it myself. We've almost never had employer health insurance, and frankly I know nothing about it to speak of -- not even where to look for statistics like that, or if they are kept. I do recall we had to buy a rider for maternity coverage; it would be perverse to include abortion under those services, but it wouldn't be surprising to find moral perversion where you find provisioning of abortions. Indeed, that's usual.

As for how we got here, it was thus: we all agreed with you, and by the way I wondered why they'd support a law requiring the purchase of abortion insurance. Elise pointed out that they were not, but were instead arguing for a different position that was being tendentiously described. I opined that it took real gall to describe their position that way as an attack on it, when one's own position (especially if they could have their druthers on a final solution) was exactly that.

As for the point of the post, I don't think anyone disagrees. Certainly not I.

Posted by: Grim at June 9, 2014 09:50 PM

I don't think all cases where abortion is performed can fairly be described as "moral perversion". And abortion doesn't happen in the absence of pregnancy - it is inextricably intertwined with the condition of pregnancy (and may sometimes be occasioned by pregnancy related conditions like severe eclampsia that threaten the lives of both mother and unborn child).

I can think of several cases where applying the term "moral perversion" seems harsh, judgmental, and worst of all, deeply unfair:

1. The life of a mother of several children (or even a first time mother) is threatened by the pregnancy. It's hardly "morally perverse" for a family or spouse to decide that the mother's life is important and worth preserving (even at the expense of the child's life). Thank God I was never in that position, but if I had been I would hope my husband would have the freedom to decide and not the State.

2. A 10 year old girl is brutally gang raped and impregnated. Not only is the pregnancy likely to significantly endanger her life and health (pregnancies in extreme youth are high risk) but she is already deeply traumatized, both by serious physical injuries, and mentally. Is it really "morally perverse" for her parents to wish to spare her further suffering?

I respect your objections to casual abortion or abortion on demand, Grim, since I happen to share most of them. But I find the strong language and the broad brush you're using hard to understand.

Posted by: Cass at June 10, 2014 08:11 AM

I didn't say that abortion was always morally perverse, just that it is not unusual (but rather usual) to find moral perversion where you find people providing it.

I won't debate the two cases you structure, because there's a clear case on which we certainly agree. We can easily agree that abortion is not morally perverse, but nearly morally required, in at least one case: the case of a mother whose pregnancy will lead to her death, before the child is even viable. In that case, there's certainly nothing perverse about it.

However, we find that 98% of abortions are not from 'hard cases,' but are for elective reasons. That being so, 'not unusual, but in fact to be expected' strikes me as fair.

In fact, the habit of abortion supporters to refer to hard cases when 98% of the time it is elective strikes me as morally perverse. What these arguments really establish is that, in terms of morality, there are a few exceptions to what is otherwise a general rule. What they are used in service of is the idea that there is no rule.

Posted by: Grim at June 10, 2014 09:42 AM

Just to be clear, that last comment was not directed at your position. You were raising the hard cases not in service to a general right to abortion at will, but as an objection to what you were reading as a universal condemnation. That's the right way to raise the cases, to ask if there are no exceptions to the rule at all.

What is morally perverse is attempting to use it not to craft exceptions where exceptions may be warranted, but to undermine the idea that there is a rule at all.

Posted by: Grim at June 10, 2014 09:47 AM

Thanks for the clarification, Grim. I had completely misunderstood what you were arguing :)

I continue to oppose unrestricted abortion and find the argument that there can be no limits on it whatsoever to be both illogical and downright scary. And I'm perfectly fine with different states drawing the line in different places.

Posted by: Cass at June 10, 2014 10:00 AM

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