POLITICS
CULTURE

Elizabeth Banks and Busy Philipps Join Rally in DC to Defend Abortion Rights

The My Right My Decision rally in DC on Wednesday focused on the positives and success stories of abortion

Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

The world is full of different kinds of suffering.

There are base physical pains—abdominal cramps, aching joints, tearing flesh. And then there are deeper, more crushing forms of spiritual and psychological anguish—the feeling of being inadequate to provide for a loved one, or that your mere existence has ruined another person's life. No one should have to live with that kind of pain. That's the idea behind a rally on Wednesday in Washington DC and an accompanying hashtag on Twitter, which both seek to celebrate and defend a powerful tool for the prevention of suffering: abortion.

Of course, some suffering is unavoidable. For those cases we have spiritual and philosophical guidance that can help us come to terms with daily struggles. The rest of the time, we turn to science to create solutions that can save us from pain. Science can give us new limbs, restore our vision, replace our organs. Any and all of these methods for reducing suffering deserve to be celebrated, and they often are. But abortions—one of the oldest medical miracles—have recently become so taboo that our culture would sooner demonize them than say anything positive about them. This is despite the fact that a safe, minimally invasive procedure—or even just a swallowed pill—can often save two lives from tremendous suffering and despite the fact that nearly a quarter of American women will have had an abortion by the age of 45.

The groups responsible for maintaining that taboo—groups that promote shame around abortion—are vocal enough that most of us are familiar with their arguments. They have decided without evidence that a human embryo or fetus—at any stage of development—is a child with a soul and rights and feelings. They believe that the mere existence of a fertilized egg inside a uterus necessarily obliges the human attached to that uterus to be a nurturing host to the life inside them. They equate abortion with murder, and they want to force the rest of us to conform to that standard of morality. They bolster their claims with graphic images and false claims that people who receive abortions usually regret the choice. Then they push for irrelevant laws that hide the motive of restricting abortion access.

The My Right My Decision rally in DC formed in response to the Supreme Court case of June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo, which revolves around a Louisiana law requiring clinics that provide abortion services to staff a doctor with admitting privileges at a local hospital. While the purported motive is to improve safety measures, critics point to a similar law in Texas that was struck down in 2016 after the court found no compelling safety benefits. Instead, it seems to be part of a surge in legislation designed to restrict abortion access and take advantage of the shift in the balance that took place when conservative justice Brett Kavanaugh replaced moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy on the bench.

With celebrities like Busy Philipps and Elizabeth Banks in attendance, along with politicians including Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, the rally that took place Wednesday morning was attempting to counter stigma with success stories and a defense of freedom. As Banks put it in her address to the crowd, "Today we are taking the opportunity to present reproductive freedom, including abortion, for exactly what it is: no less than liberty itself." As for Busy Philipps, she had an abortion at the age of 15, and has been open about how important that was for her life: "I'm genuinely really scared for women and girls all over this country."

While opponents will point to instances of regret, the reality is that 99% of abortions are not a source of regret but of relief, even five years after the fact. By and large, people are not making the decision lightly, and they really do know whether or not they're ready for the trauma of pregnancy and labor and the responsibility of parenthood.

In an imaginary world where population was dwindling, where the medical costs associated with pregnancy and delivery were covered by the state, where there were no negative social or professional repercussions for anyone who might become pregnant, and where an infant given up for adoption could be guaranteed a humane childhood, it might be understandable to see pushback against abortion rights. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in. In our world, the planet is being ravaged by overpopulation and overconsumption, medical debts are a driving force behind American bankruptcies, and hundreds of thousands of children without parents are subjected to cruelty and neglect within our foster care system or at the hands of ill-equipped parents.

Easy access to a procedure that can prevent those horrors—and the horrors of inevitable "back-alley" abortions—is something worth celebrating, not stigmatizing. Which is why the hashtag #MyRightMyDecision was trending on Twitter Wednesday morning, with images from the rally that featured women holding signs that proclaim "I Had An Abortion," "Abortion is Healthcare," and "Thank God For Abortion."

The idea that creating more and more people is fundamentally a good thing—regardless of their quality of life—is a deeply flawed assumption, and it's foundational to the so-called "pro-life" movement. While a baby, in the right circumstances, is undoubtedly a miracle—they can bring so much joy and meaning to life—an abortion is just as miraculous when circumstances are simply wrong. When the process of having or raising a child is made untenable by health concerns, economic realities, youth, trauma, or a basic lack of desire to be a parent, it is not only cruel to the parent to restrict abortion access, it's cruel to the child who—through no fault of their own—will already be a source of problems and a focus of resentment before it's born

A child born in that situation has little chance to thrive. While other forms of birth control are preferable, abortion is a hugely important last resort, and it's refreshing to see culture beginning to embrace the positive side of abortion, and defending it against shame and stigma.

While rally-goers and Twitter users are making their voices heard, a decision on the law will likely not be passed down until June.

TV

Judge Judy Thinks Revolution Is "Fiscally Impossible"—It's Actually Inevitable

In an appearance on MSNBC on Tuesday, Judith Sheindlin made a weak case for Bloomberg and against Biden and Sanders

Judge Judith Sheindlin—better known as Judge Judy—appeared on MSNBC on Tuesday to advocate for her preferred "Democratic" candidate, Mike Bloomberg.

As well as being an actual judge, Judge Judy has won over 25-years of daytime TV viewers by dispensing no-nonsense "justice" in a "small claims court" that essentially awards small cash prizes to people willing to air their dirty laundry in public. It was recently announced that this year will mark the final season of Judge Judy, but that doesn't mean that Sheindlin is done inflicting her pithy opinions on the public. Until her new show Judy Justice arrives next year, she will have to content herself with appearances on cable news in which—in her signature fashion—she can dispense with any suggestion of nuance and reduce complex issues to gut reactions and snarky quips.

judge judy smarter

Using those methods on MSNBC on Tuesday, Sheindlin quickly dismissed the candidacies of Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. Sanders, in her view, only offers "a fantasy," and Joe Biden is "a really nice guy" who will be vulnerable against "a street fighter" like Donald Trump. According to her, as soon as Trump gets on stage with Joe Biden, he will "bring up all the things that the other Democratic candidates at debates did not" and likely tank his candidacy. That may be true. Joe Biden is older than Donald Trump and has a history of supporting racist policies and interacting with women in ways that make them uncomfortable. Trump could use that ammunition to deflate enthusiasm for Joe Biden and undermine many of the strongest arguments against Trump himself. But what about Mike Bloomberg?

Somehow Sheindlin seems to have overlooked how all of these criticisms apply just as well—if not more so—to her favorite candidate, whom she refers to as "a man who knows how to see a problem and incrementally get it fixed." Not only can Bloomberg be attacked on the basis of a record that suggests both racism and sexism, he is also an out-of-touch Wall Street elitist who banned soda in NYC. On top of that, he has already shown himself ill-equipped to respond to those criticisms coming from the likes of Elizabeth Warren—so he's not exactly a "street fighter."

Judge Judy umm

So why has Sheindlin decided to endorse a presidential candidate for the first time in her career? Maybe Sheindlin, who makes around $50 million a year as the star of Judge Judy, has another motive in supporting the only ultra-wealthy candidate who is still running as a Democrat. Hmm… Perhaps her opinions on Bernie Sanders will clarify things.

What would it mean if Sheindlin referred to Bernie's policy proposals as "fiscally impossible" and claimed that it has failed "wherever it's been tried on a large scale"—despite the fact that similar policies can be found functioning in nearly every developed nation on Earth? Could it be that Sheindlin is out of touch with the ordinary struggles she pretends to adjudicate in a fake court room for a salary of tens of millions? Is it possible she's just promoting the candidate she thinks will defend her nearly half-a-billion-dollars of wealth against the grubbing hordes she lords over on TV and in life?

Sheindlin went on to cite Bernie's limited electoral accomplishments as proof that he can't get things done, because he has only passed "seven bills in 30 years … [which] is not a really great track record." Having pushed for decades for the kind of sweeping change that was anathema to the political establishment, it's true that Sanders' name appears on far more amendments than full-fledged bills. While his supporters see this as an argument for giving him the power to force the establishment to grapple with his progressive ideas, to Sheindlin it means that Bernie is "fooling the people out there who are struggling into thinking that he's the answer. He's not the answer."

Judge Judy shut up

Whatever the case, 2016 proved that voters are not particularly impressed with people who "get things done" within a system the public sees as corrupt and diseased. While Sanders' electoral and political "revolution" may not come to pass, revolution of one form or another is far from "impossible"–it's inevitable.

During her appearance, Sheindlin noted that young people always seem to want revolution. As long as there is injustice, and as long as young people are divested from the status quo, that will be the case—as it was in the American colonies of the 1770s, France of the 1780s, Russia of the 1910s… Young people push for revolution, and every once in a while revolution actually happens. It's inevitable in every culture, and it's been creeping closer around the world. Short of political change on at least the scale of the New Deal, a generation faced with the prospects of catastrophic climate change and a lifetime of economic serfdom will not quietly settle for business as usual.

Revolution—in one form or another—is coming for your wealth, Judith. And Mike Bloomberg can't save you.

CULTURE

11 Spongebob Memes to Help You Survive Super Tuesday

Mike Bloomberg is finally on the ballots, and that's not even the worst part

So the chaos we've been waiting for is finally upon us.

Today 14 states will be voting for nominees, and more than 1,300 pledged delegates will be awarded—compared to the 155 that have been distributed so far. California and Texas will both be voting, and their huge delegate counts could be what tips the scales toward one clear frontrunner. Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar both dropped at the last minute—triggering an avalanche of endorsements for Joe Biden—and people who don't know any better will finally have a chance to cast a ballot for Mike Bloomberg. While rational debate and discussion of major issues like health care and climate change are obviously valuable, the insanity that tonight's results are going to bring calls for a different style of communication: Spongebob Squarepants memes.

After weeks of scouring the Internet, we have discovered the best Spongebob memes for every Super Tuesday situation you're likely to encounter.

For your friend who doesn't pay any attention to politics

super tuesday patrick

For your friends who get all their political insights from TV ads

mike bloomberg handsome ugly squidward

For your parents when they say they would consider voting for Bernie Sanders

medicare for all boomer

For your MAGA relatives who think there's nothing wrong with private health insurance

For your friends who supported Amy and Mayor Pete and aren't sure who to vote for

Patrick push centrists to the left

For your friend who keeps reminding you that Tulsi Gabbard is still running

Tulsi snobody cares

For your friend who is ride-or-die for Elizabeth Warren

elizabeth warren tough

For your friend who insists that no one is being harassed by "Bernie bros"

bernie bro harassment

For your friend who still misses Kamala Harris

kamala stans khive

For your friend who still misses Andrew Yang

yang gang

For the moment you realize Michael Bloomberg is actually going to win some delegates

bloomberg for billionaires

Buckle up...

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