Sex & Relationships

10 Most Absurd Things Conservatives Have Said About Sex Around Texas Abortion Battles

The battle over abortion in Texas shows yet again how nutty Republicans are when it comes to women, sex and reproduction.

Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks during an address to the 39th Conservative Political Action Committee February 9, 2012 in Washington, DC. Perry announced Monday he will not seek re-election next year, while leaving open the prospect of launching a second presidential bid.

The horrible battle over abortion in Texas, which most recently resulted in the legislature passing a bill that would close down 37 out of 42 clinics, has revealed to the nation just how serious conservatives are when they say they want to eradicate safe, legal abortion. It has also exposed, in a way that may even surpass the faux-pas-a-thon that was the 2012 campaign, how incredibly nutty Republicans are when it comes to their beliefs about women, sex and how reproduction works. Here’s just 10 of the most baffling statements to come out of right-wing mouths, inspired by the goings-on in Texas.

1) Rick Perry mansplains to women how they should feel about their own rights. State senator Wendy Davis, with assistance from pro-choice protesters, managed to shut down the first anti-abortion bill by conducting a filibuster that ran out the clock on the vote. In retaliation, Gov. Rick Perry put on his best “little ladies just don’t know their own minds” voice and explained that he knows better than Wendy Davis how Wendy Davis should think. After noting that Davis and her own mother were both teenage moms, Perry said, “It's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example, that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.” The possibility that her own struggles might actually inform her belief that women need to have full reproductive autonomy didn’t even cross his condescending mind.

Perry also misunderstands the realities of abortion. His comment invoked a common anti-choice stereotype of the abortion-seeker as a young, naïve teenager who just doesn’t know any better. In reality, women in their 20s account for most abortions, and teens only make up 18% of total overall abortions. Most women who have abortions are also mothers, like Davis, so really, they know what they’re doing.

2) Peggy Noonan calls 50-year-old woman a “young woman.”Perry wasn’t the only anti-choicer trying to paint Davis as a silly, naïve child who doesn’t understand the issue of abortion. Peggy Noonan also went on TVand played as if she were a clucking grandmother talking about her adorable but wrong-headed teenage granddaughter, calling Davis a “young woman” who is “so spirited.” Davis is 50 years old, which makes her only 12 years younger than Noonan. Perhaps Noonan’s people become grandparents in junior high school, but it’s a safer bet to assume she was disingenuously trying to use ageist stereotypes to discredit pro-choicers.

3) Speaking out for women makes you a terrorist. Rounding out  the “crazy statements about Wendy Davis” list comes this one from state representative Bill Zedler (R), who responded to Davis’s filibuster by saying, “We had terrorist in the Texas State Senate opposing SB5.”

His poor grammar does make one wonder if he meant “a terrorist”, i.e. Davis, or “terrorists,” plural, which would mean the involved citizens who had the nerve to show up and participate in their democracy by protesting this bill. Either way, he has it backwards. Only one side of the abortion debate regularly produces terrorists, and it’s not the pro-choice side.

4) They Roto-Rooter rape victims at the hospital, because that’s an appropriate way to treat a trauma victim. Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, who introduced the bill, denied that the ban on abortions after 20 weeks needed a rape exception. Her reasoning? Because they “clean you out” at the emergency room during your rape kit. No, really: “In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out.”

In reality, they do not stick any device up a woman's vagina to suck or clean anything out. It’s mostly about evidence collection, and in most cases, women should be offered a pill to prevent ovulation. Laubenberg’s comments suggest she thinks they perform some kind of emergency abortion right then and there, but as anyone who knows the basics of human biology should know, women don’t actually get pregnant in the hours or even days after a man ejaculated inside of them. You can’t abort, er, “clean out” a pregnancy that hasn’t started yet.

5) Sex education makes kids “hot and bothered,” thereby causing unintended pregnancy.Pro-choicers in Texas are sensibly pointing out that if anti-choicers hate abortion so much, they should adopt measures like comprehensive sex education to prevent unplanned pregnancies in the first place. State representative Steve Toth (R) responded by claiming that sex education causes pregnancy by turning previously asexual teenagers into horndogs:

My wife worked at a home for unwed moms, and one of the little kids that was born, his name is David. David came about as a result of his mom and dad, who were just 16 at the time, going to a Planned Parenthood deal where they taught them how to use contraceptives. They were not sexually active at that point. They got into the car, and they were so hot and bothered from this deal, he couldn’t even get the condom on.

Presumably, Toth imagines that no one ever got pregnant during the 19th century, because the term “birth control” hadn’t even been invented yet to tempt otherwise disinterested people. How the human race survived is simply a mystery.

6) Women mutilating themselves in desperation with coathangers is hilarious. Fox News and former CNN commentator Erick Erickson celebrated the Texas Senate passing the abortion bill by tweeting, “Dear Liberals, go bookmark this site now:” and linking to a website that sells hangers. At least he admits that the regulations in Texas, which will only leave five clinics to tend to the 85,000 abortions a year that women have in the state, will drive women to seek black market or self-administered abortions, which are dangerous. He should inform the bill’s authors, who swear up and down that it’s simply a health regulation meant to improve the quality of abortion care—though perhaps he thinks shoving a wire hanger up your uterus is top-notch reproductive healthcare.

When called out on it, Erickson said, “I forget that feminists and other pro-abortion activists really are as humorless as they are stereotyped to be.” Nothing funnier than a perforated uterus, at least if you hate the person who had the nerve to think that she should choose when to have children and not some random misogynist on the Internet.

7) Women who have abortions are all being duped by evil men who are evil because sex. Frequent Fox News commenator Sandy Rios tried to explain how banning abortion is great for women (though she skipped the part about hilarious wire hangers sticking out of your cervix), because only men who are using women support legal abortion:

It is generally, from my opinion, the promiscuous white men who are pushing abortion. I would even say the promiscuous black ones like our president, oh forgive me I shouldn’t say that, but they’re the ones who want sexual license, they do not want responsibility; abortion has always helped men more than it helps women.

Men and women are roughly equal in terms of support for abortion rights as women: 81% of men and 78% of women support legal abortion in some to all circumstances. Every year, about 1 in 50 American women of reproductive age has an abortion; Rios would have you believe they are all asexual dupes who were tricked by men—the only gender that likes sex—but hopefully the rest of the country is smart enough to see the flaw in that reasoning.

As for Obama’s alleged promiscuity, all I’m going to say is the man wears mom jeans. The Lothario of D.C. he is not.

8) Pro-choicers have a secret agenda to overturn America and turn it into a communist nation. While interviewing Rick Santorum, Joe Pags—a guest host for Glenn Beck—claimed the 5,000 pro-choice protesters that flooded the Texas Capitol weren’t really there to support women. Oh no, it was because they’re secret Marxists trying to incite revolution: “They’ve got a vast communist, socialist agenda; they’ve got a vast anti-freedom, anti-American agenda; they’ve got a vast anti-Christian, anti-Constitutional agenda.” How one is supposed to enact that anti-freedom agenda by pushing for women’s freedom or overturn capitalism through the magic power of deciding when and if to have children on your own was not explained.

9) Women are getting abortions by claiming to have handsprains. Bill O’Reilly threw a fit on his show during a discussion about the Texas bill, saying that women can get abortions “For any reason! Women’s health! ‘Hey! Look I sprained my hand!’” In reality, women who show up at the doctor’s office asking for an abortion do not legally have to justify it for any reason in the first two trimesters. That’s why it’s a right and not something you need a court order to do. There haven’t been committees to grill women to determine if they can produce good enough reasons to earn an abortion for 40 years in this country.

Indeed, the indignity of making women go before then all-male panels of doctors and beg for the right to terminate a pregnancy was one of the reasons that feminists demanded abortion legalization. We can all imagine that O’Reilly would like to listen to women have to beg for abortions on such a panel, though hopefully he’d at least know better to leave his loofah behind when he showed up for his “make ‘em beg” duties.

10) Pro-choicers worship Satan. Hosts of the show “Faith and Freedom” Matt Barber and Steve Crampton told viewers that pro-choice protesters at the Texas Capitol were taunting anti-choice protesters by yelling, “Hail Satan!” at them. Being from Texas myself, I can’t say I’m entirely surprised if this is true; taunting the religious right with sacrilegious jokes is a state sport for liberals there. But Barber and Crampton got themselves so worked up that I nearly halfway believed they’ve convinced themselves the people making fun of them are actually Satanists. Which must have been very exciting for them. But sorry guys, they’re just messing with you. There’s no such thing as Satan. Or Santa either, for that matter.

Taken together, the made-up nonsense, sexist blathering, paranoid delusions, and fantasies of Satan point to an important thing to understand about the anti-choice movement: They don’t know jack about anything and they don’t care to know it. Openly admitting you’re just a bunch of misogynists who want to punish women is politically toxic, so instead they spin yarn after yarn, tell lie after lie, and are so used to never speaking truth it’s quite possible they’ve forgotten what the truth even looks like anymore.

Amanda Marcotte is a politics writer for Salon. She's on Twitter @AmandaMarcotte.