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Fox News Hates That An Oregon Bill Provides Immigrants With Health Care — Including Abortion

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

On Fox News’ The Story with Martha MacCallum, host Martha MacCallum slammed an Oregon bill that would protect reproductive health care for all — including undocumented immigrants. MacCallum used the segment to misinform about the bill, combining xenophobic statements about immigrants with misinformation about so-called “sex-selective” and late-term abortions. In reality, the Oregon bill correctly treats abortion as an essential part of health care and ensures access for the most vulnerable communities — measures that are particularly important as Congress threatens to decimate the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood.

The Oregon bill, titled the Reproductive Health Equity Act, requires insurance providers to cover a range of reproductive services, including abortion, regardless of income, citizenship status, or gender identity. The bill also includes a trigger law that would go into effect to protect the legal right to an abortion if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. As Slate explained, “If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, abortion care won’t immediately become illegal,” but instead will go back to the states. Oregon’s trigger law therefore ensures the protections of Roe will remain in place, unless the Oregon legislature repeals the protection. The bill has passed Oregon’s legislature and is expected to be signed by Gov. Kate Brown.

Nevertheless, during the July 13 edition of The Story, MacCallum mischaracterized the bill, claiming it would force “insurers and taxpayers to fund free abortions for virtually any reason, at any time, including sex-selective and late-term abortions.” MacCallum alleged that the bill was “radical” and that opponents had called it “grisly” and “appalling.” MacCallum also continued the long history of Fox hosts invoking undocumented immigrants as a scare tactic to rile up their right-wing audience. As her colleagues on Special Report with Bret BaierHappening Now, and America’s Newsroom had previously done when reporting on the Oregon bill, MacCallum peppered her segment with outrage that bill provided so-called “illegal immigrants” with access to abortion and reproductive health care.

As the United States Congress threatens to eliminate access to abortion and reproductive health care, Oregon is moving to protect access — for everyone, regardless of their citizenship status, gender identity, or income. Here are the myths MacCallum presented about “sex-selective” and late-term abortions to attack the Oregon bill, and the facts that counter them:

Sex-selective abortions are an anti-choice myth repeated by the right-wing media

During the July 13 segment, MacCallum repeatedly pushed the myth that the Oregon bill would enable so-called “sex-selective” abortions, alleging that the bill would say “it’s OK for someone to decide because they don’t like the sex of their baby to abort it at eight months.” Fox News and the right-wing media have long promoted thismyth, which was pushed by anti-abortion groups in order to encourage state and federal legislatures to introduce or pass bills restricting abortion.

The Oregon bill includes no language about “sex-selective” abortions — probably because no such procedure is legally practiced or promoted in the United States. Instead, the discussion of “sex-selective” abortions appears to be an allegation conjured directly from right-wing media. As the National Review speciously complained, because the bill did not expressly “prohibit sex-selective abortions,” the natural consequences would be that an “insurer has no choice but to cover that.”

Bans against “sex-selective” abortion have no basis in scientific research or the medical practices of abortion providers. In a study conducted in Illinois and Pennsylvania following the enactment of “sex-selective” abortion bans in those states, researchers found that “the bans were not associated with changes in sex ratios at birth.” Laws banning “sex-selective” abortions also rely on “false stereotypes and misleading language” to allow providers to deny access to people of color, particularly Asian Americans. The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum found that “these bans are detrimental to the reproductive health of Black and Asian American women” and violate the trust in a doctor and patient relationship by “turning a doctor into an interrogator of any woman seeking an abortion, especially women of color.”

Fox claimed Oregon bill pushes “abortions on demand” and promotes late-term abortions

MacCallum consistently fearmongered about what she described as the Oregon bill’s promotion of “abortion on demand” or even “full-term” abortions. At one point, MacCallum argued that the bill would allow “free abortions for virtually any reason at any time” and alleged that it would enable “late-term, even full-term, abortions.” These are all talking points used by right-wing media to create unease about late-term abortions and promote limitations on abortion access. In reality, abortion is a personal decision, like any other health care decision, and has been specifically protected by the Supreme Court as such. In contrast to MacCallum’s argument, late-term abortions are extremely rare and performed largely for medically necessary, or health-related, reasons.

The personal accounts of the people who’ve actually had late-term abortions are far more representative than what Fox News continually invokes. A woman profiled in a ThinkProgress article about late-term abortion described her pregnancy with twins as “the most wanted and planned pregnancy ever,” but after her one of the twins died and the other was discovered to have a fatal birth defect, an abortion was necessary to save her life.

Although MacCallum used the Oregon bill as an opportunity to recycle all of right-wing media’s favorite myths about late-term abortion, in reality it has little to do with the type of abortion allowed. Instead, the bill prevents insurance providers from denying people coverage based on immigration status, income, or gender identity. Unfortunately, segments like this are not uncommon on Fox. As a study by Media Matters found, Fox News frequently and consistently uses its platform to advance inaccurate information on abortion.

Header image by Dayanita Ramesh / Media Matters

Kasich And Cruz’s Coordination May Be Too Late To Stop Trump

Republican presidential candidates John Kasich and Ted Cruz announced Sunday night that their campaigns would coordinate three future presidential primary efforts to keep party frontrunner Donald Trump from securing the Republican nomination. But their agreement doesn’t do nearly as much as a stronger, earlier attempt at stopping the frontrunner would have.

For starters, the coordination agreement, or at least what’s been discussed publicly so far, only covers three states: Indiana, New Mexico, and Oregon.

Indiana, as a winner-take-all state at the district level and overall, is a must-win for the #NeverTrump camp. Polling from the state shows Trump with 39 percent of the vote, putting him ahead of Cruz by six points and ahead of Kasich by 20.

Despite his campaign’s statement, though, it appears Kasich still wants Indiana voters to support him. “I’ve never told them not to vote for me,” he said at a diner in Philadelphia. “They ought to vote for me.”

He boiled the agreement down to a cost-saving effort: “I’m not out there campaigning and spending resources,” he said. “I’m not going to spend resources in Indiana. [Cruz is] not going to spend resources in other places.”

The New York Times reported that Kasich’s super PAC was honoring the agreement and chose not to run ads for him in Indiana, though “New Day for America” PAC may have just seen the writing on the wall: FiveThirtyEight has consistently put Kasich’s odds at winning the state below one percent.

Polling is harder to come across for the two states ceded to Kasich. The Oregon primary isn’t until May 17 and New Mexico’s isn’t until June 7 (perhaps Kasich insisted on later dates to substantiate his claim that he would be staying in the race until the convention), but each awards delegates proportionally, softening the blow for Cruz.

Trump only needs 393 more delegates to win the nomination outright before the Republican National Convention this summer in Cleveland. According to an analysis by The Hill, if Trump wins at least 115 of the delegates up for grabs today, he will only need to win 22 of Indiana’s 57 delegates, 13 of Oregon’s 28 delegates and nine of New Mexico’s 24 delegates, less than half in each state, to remain on track for the nomination.

While the coordination between the Kasich and Cruz campaigns was a boon to anti-Trump Republicans, the newfound spirit of cooperation between the two may be too little, too late.

Photo: Republican presidential candidate John Kasich addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) afternoon general session in Washington March 21, 2016.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Bernie Sanders Gets His First Endorsement From The Senate

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley announced today that he is endorsing Bernie Sanders for the presidency. Sessions became the first U.S. Senator to endorse the Sanders’s run for the White House.

In an op-ed in The New York Times, Merkley struck a diplomatic tone in what has become an increasingly divisive fight between those supporting Hillary Clinton and those supporting Sanders.

“Hillary Clinton has a remarkable record. She would be a strong and capable president,” he said. “But Bernie Sanders is boldly and fiercely addressing the biggest challenges facing our country.”

Citing his youth spent growing up in a working class community in Oregon that provided his family with a comfortable standard of living, Merkley lamented the lack of similar opportunities for his children. Merkley is also one of the most progressive members in the Senate, having supported clean energy bills, campaign finance limits and increased taxations for corporations and the top 1 percent of earners.

“America has gone off track, and the outlook for the kids growing up there is a lot gloomier today than 40 years ago,” he said. “The problem is that our economy, both by accident and design, has become rigged to make a fortunate few very well off while leaving most Americans struggling to keep up.”

The endorsement cited many of the same talking points that have become a hallmark of the Sanders campaign, such as lack of upward economic mobility, working longer hours for less pay, and the concentration of new wealth in increasingly fewer hands. Merkley closed with an appeal to the political “revolution” Sanders claims will give his presidency the mandate to implement sweeping changes:

It has been noted that Bernie has an uphill battle ahead of him to win the Democratic nomination. But his leadership on these issues and his willingness to fearlessly stand up to the powers that be have galvanized a grass-roots movement. People know that we don’t just need better policies, we need a wholesale rethinking of how our economy and our politics work, and for whom they work.

The endorsement is likely to strengthen support for Sanders in Oregon, where 74 delegates are up for grabs in its May 17 Democratic primary. Sanders handily won Washington State, the only other primary on the West Coast so far, taking 73 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 27 percent.

How The West Was Shunned in Primary Politics

There’s a not-insignificant part of the United States known as the West Coast. It includes such prominent states as California, Oregon and Washington.

These states have yet to hold a single presidential primary or caucus. But at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday, this population center of 50 million-plus souls was informed that the Democrats have a “prohibitive front-runner” and the Republicans a guy who seems unstoppable by primaries and caucuses alone.

As of this late date in the process, not a single voter in a state bordering the Pacific Ocean has been asked to choose the “winner” — except for Republicans in Hawaii and Alaska.

Washington will have its Democratic caucuses later this month, its Republican primary in May. Oregon doesn’t hold its primaries until May, and California’s are in early June.

When these states do go through the motions of expressing their preference for the next president, they will have done so without months of public agony over matters of regional concern. Their voters will have heard only sketchy talk on issues related to shipping, fisheries or water shortages plaguing the eastern parts of the three states.

And even if the delegate counts remain close, voting late in the season leaves the electorate with a reduced list of possibilities. On the Republican side, there’s no more Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. On the Democratic side, Martin O’Malley is gone. Bernie Sanders will probably still be running, but his West Coast supporters can no longer affect the perception of his being in a close race with Hillary Clinton.

Noting this unfairness, Washington state officials, backed by The Seattle Times, are calling for a new system that would give every part of the country an even shot at choosing the parties’ nominees. A “rotating regional primary system” would group states into four regions. Every four years, a different region would kick off the voting.

Both parties already encourage regional primaries, notes Kay Stimson, spokesperson for the National Association of Secretaries of State. But they have hesitated to endorse a system of rotating regional primaries, which the association first proposed in 1999.

Because some regions tend to be highly liberal or highly conservative, some worry that clustering primaries by region would skew the results toward one political bias or another. Another concern is that holding large regional votes at the same time would put poorly funded candidates at a disadvantage.

Interestingly, the rotating primary plan would retain first-in-the-nation privileges for Iowa and New Hampshire. The association members saw value in the retail politics of both states, Stimson told me. It lets average people vet the wannabes — and gives poorly funded candidates a chance to grab a foothold.

A competing proposal is to set a national primary date for everyone to vote. The problem here, Stimson explains, is it vastly favors the most heavily endorsed front-runner candidates. In this year’s race, she said, the choices would have been Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton “and that’s that.”

A rotating regional primary system still seems the fairest and simplest way to avoid the rush to the front of the line we see today. And it remains utterly crazy that giant California can become an afterthought in the selection of party nominees.

If this is any consolation, other big-population states — New York, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Indiana — have yet to hold primaries or caucuses. And the very last group of Americans to choose delegates will be Democrats in Washington, D.C. Their primary will be held June 14.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2016 CREATORS.COM

Photo: Homes are seen in Porter Ranch near the site of the Aliso Canyon storage field where gas has been leaking in Porter Ranch, California, United States, January 21, 2016.   REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson