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Charmaine Yoest Tries to Give the War on Women a Pleasant Face

Written by Amanda Marcotte for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Emily Bazelon published a fascinating profile of anti-choice leader Charmaine Yoest, head of Americans United for Life, in this weekend's New York Times Magazine. Bazelon's theory, which I fully agree with, is that Yoest has set out to put a friendly face on the anti-choice movement, mainly by putting on a patient smile instead of resorting to the heated anger anti-choicers quickly exhibit towards the vast majority of American women who reject the idea that our bodies are not our own. According to Bazelon, Yoest also intends to sell the agenda of rolling back women's gains by being more careful not to mention less politically popular anti-choice policy goals, such as restricting access to contraception, even while continuing to work towards those goals.

Politically, it's a smart idea. In fact, it's such a smart idea, it used to be the governing mantra of the anti-choice movement, which coasted for decades with the mainstream media taking their bad faith claims to be motivated by "life" at face value, and generally not looking too hard at the ways the anti-choice movement attacked sex education and contraception, even though these lower the abortion rate. Indeed, as recently as 2008, you had politicians like Barack Obama talking about finding "common ground" on contraception with the anti-choice movement. Since then, years of relentless attacks on previously non-controversial policies like federal subsidies and insurance coverage of contraception have made it impossible to ignore the militant misogyny of the anti-choice movement. Add to that the parade of ill-informed comments on rape and abortion, and you have a perfect storm of incidents waking the public up to the true nature of the anti-choice movement, which is, as it's always been, a movement whose sole purpose is to take away women's ability to control their fertility and therefore their lives.


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