MSNBC Panel Sees 'Misogyny' and 'Villainous Rhetoric' in Abortion Opponents

On Saturday's Melissa Harris-Perry show, host Harris-Perry called the rhetoric from abortion opponents "villainous" as she fretted over Tennessee Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn being a woman who is pushing a House bill banning abortion.

And panel members Irin Carmon of Salon.com and Aisha Moodie-Mills of the left-wing Center for American Progress both saw "misgyny" in the measure. After a clip of Rep. Blackburn promoting the bill, MSNBC host Harris-Perry responded:

We have become accustomed to the villainous rhetoric from Congresswoman Blackburn's male counterparts when it comes to women's reproductive rights, but it is troubling to see women clamoring to legislate other women's bodies and hinging their decisions on public opinion and problematic science, and, for example, the fact that, you know, what Gosnell did was already illegal.

Salon's Carmon soon brought up "misogyny" as she complained:

Trent Franks was the one who was in charge of this bill, but they brought out Marsha Blackburn to manage it on the House floor because they didn't want that all-male panel. They hastily added a rape exception because they didn't want to seem insensitive to rape survivors. To me, the core misogyny of the bill remains, and the arguments have to be made on the merits.

A bit later, Moodie-Mills chimed in:

I think that if you kind of step back for a minute and think about our broader culture, we are subliminally taught as women that we shouldn't value and own the space of our bodies. There is really a social consciousness that is put out there, one, because of the patriarch and because of the misogyny, like you said, that we should feel some kind of shame for our bodies. And that begins with the lack of sex education, sex ed-

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Saturday, June 22, Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC:

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: All right, let's take a listen to Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, speaking with MSNBC's Craig Melvin on Tuesday before the House passed a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks. Let's listen.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN, (R-TN) CLIP #1: This is something that the American people have said you need to do something about this. Women have said you need to do something about these late-term abortions.

BLACKBURN CLIP #2: Is saving the life of women and of babies pandering? Absolutely not.

BLACKBURN CLIP #3: If we sat on our hands, knowing what we found out through Kermit Gosnell's trial, knowing that even his own attorney said 24 weeks is a bad determiner, the law needs to be moved back to 16 or 17 weeks.

HARRIS-PERRY: We have become accustomed to the villainous rhetoric from Congresswoman Blackburn's male counterparts when it comes to women's reproductive rights, but it is troubling to see women clamoring to legislate other women's bodies and hinging their decisions on public opinion and problematic science, and, for example, the fact that, you know, what Gosnell did was already illegal. ... Irin, you were on MSNBC after Congresswoman Blackburn made her statements about the late-term abortions.

IRIN CARMON, SALON.COM: Well, I think there's some really interesting things happening in the struggle over abortion rights, in politics right now. And one of them is that for people who support abortion rights, for pro-choice people, yes, it is really important to call out that there is insensitive talk about rape survivors, it is really important to point out that these conversations are dominated by men who are legislating women's bodies. But both of those things are easy to superficially fix, which is what Republicans tried to do this week. Trent Franks was the one who was in charge of this bill, but they brought out Marsha Blackburn to manage it on the House floor because they didn't want that all-male panel. They hastily added a rape exception because they didn't want to seem insensitive to rape survivors.

To me, the core misogyny of the bill remains, and the arguments have to be made on the merits. But what's interesting is when people are asking, "Why did the Republicans bring this bill?" Well, the answer is, one, here's something that their entire caucus agrees on. Two, they are used to having Republicans be on the offense on abortion rights and Democrats turn and run. But that is not what happened. Democrats really stood back on this, and they called it, they didn't run scared about social conservatives. They said, you know, this is insensitive to women. And you had the same sort of grassroots energy in Texas, that really people are pushing back and saying, yes, fine, this is uncomfortable later abortions, but we still have to push back.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, and, look, part of it for me feels that, this idea of Marsha Blackburn standing there, her being the face of it. And again, my real sadness this week around Serena Williams and her comments about the Steubenville rape survivor, in both cases, part of what made it harder to take was the idea that these are women. And I don't want to be essentializing and assume that all women because they're born with certain chromosomes or with a uterus or something, will have the same world view, but you do feel like, don't you experientially get why you don't want someone legislating your body?

AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: You know, I think that if you kind of step back for a minute and think about our broader culture, we are subliminally taught as women that we shouldn't value and own the space of our bodies. There is really a social consciousness that is put out there, one, because of the patriarch and because of the misogyny, like you said, that we should feel some kind of shame for our bodies. And that begins with the lack of sex education, sex ed-

HARRIS-PERRY: We don't even know how our bodies operate.

MOODIE-MILLS: Right. And I think that Serena's comments, I think that, you know, Republican women who say these things that seem really counter to who they should feel like they are inside, is really symptomatic of the way that our broader society thinks about and treats women. And it's very sad and disheartening for me because it feels like self-hate.

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