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tv   To the Contrary With Bonnie Erbe  PBS  February 25, 2012 11:30am-12:00pm PST

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this week on to the contrary: democratic women fight back on birth control. then, the demise of "mademoiselle." behind the headlines: a high school girl fakes pregnancy. >> hello, i'm bonnie erbe. welcome to to the contrary, a discussion of news and social trends from diverse perspectives. up first, women make waves. >> angry for being silenced last week, house democratic leaders held their own hearing on contraception coverage late this week. the hearing featured one witness sandra fluke, a law student at georgetown university who has been lobbying her school to include contraception coverage in its student health care policy. ao this week, virginia gov.
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bob mcdonnell backed off on a bill that would have required women seeking abortions in the state to undergo extremely invasive medical procedures. and gop hopeful, rick santorum flip-flopped in the last republican debate, saying he does not support federal funding for birth control, when earlier in the week he said he did. congresswoman norton, have republicans made women's issues a winning issue for democrats in november? >> bonnie, i think we'll have two. job obstruction by republicans in the congress and yes, women's rights, thanks again to the republicans. >> i think that the hysteria on this issue will try to make it a winning issue and the media complicit in keeping that going. but the gop isn't helping itself with the optics. >> i have to agree. not allowing a single woman to
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pacify in that hearing was a major blunder on their part. i'm sure there is a communications director on the hill who is getting a pink slip this week. most interestingly, this is about unmarried women which constitute a large part of the democratic base. big motivator for them. >> i think bonnie, this is not just about this issue. obama care raised the issue and this is one example, about the debate over religious liberty. this is just one won. i think we'll have a supreme court hearing coming up on this whole thing and that is going to be the crux of manien? women care about. >> the last several weeks, it's been front page, front of mind, top story in the newscast, all about not about religious liberty, which seems to have fallen off the charts, but about denying women fees contraception, which is -- i mean, is that a motivator for republican voters in. >> is what a motivator? >> the fact this story got play
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because the republicans responses to what was happening, is that a motivator for republican voters in. >> i think first of all, a lot of people are motivated on in liberty issue and because the "new york times" isn't putting it on the front page and the today show isn't leading with it in the morning, it doesn't make it an issue. polling will reveal. that the fact is, it's what the white house wants everybody to think it's about so they really need the women's vote. but what people need to pay attention to here is, first of all -- >> i think what you see on social media is women responding. women finding out about it and -- >> and i think conservatives have to get out and say, look, that's not what this is about. this is about anybody, it's not about catholic schools and hospitals. it's about individual people, business owners, jewish, muslim, atheist, whatever you are. you lost rights two weeks ago.
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>> -- standing -- >> it has absolutely. (multiple speakers) >> really right now we are talking about the right to corporations. president obama actually was able to split the baby on this one. he made sure wmen's rights are being reprotected and religious rights are protect. >> that's absolutelyee - . (multiple speakers). >> you're right. the president came up with what you're supposed to do in this country under the constitution. he looks for an accommodation, religion doesn't trump other rights. you try to find an accommodation when you have two rights clashing. the reproductive rights of women and the religious rights of religious institutions. he solved that issue to the satisfaction -- if i could just finish here. to the satisfaction of most americans. then what the republicans did, the great blunder they made in
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the committee on which i serve, they decided to revise the issue, exploiting the religious side of the issue, without letting even one woman come with the other side. >> wait a minute. hold on. >> hold on a second. >> first of all -- >> you walked occupy - . (multiple speakers). >> there were no women on the contraceptive issue. there were no women on the contraception issue. >> one was a woman -- (multiple speakers). >> please let tara -- >> the reason why obama and the administration had to nuance their position on this is because religious organizations flipped out and said, wait a minute, you're not going to force, the government is not going to force us to have to compromise our religious beliefs to provide birth control in our health insurance. that's not a right. >> what do you think the percentage of voters out there -- this is how i look at it -- care more about -- care
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about so-called religious freedoms, versus the number of people who care about -- (indiscernible). >> 32% oppose these measures t doesn't matter if they are religious exceptions. 61%, including self identified catholics agree with what the president did here. >> wait a minute. here is the fall see. this -- (multiple speakers) >> let me ask you, you don't -- i was listening this week to the egyptian parliament, and someone got up and started the call to prayer. and the guy who was running parliament who is a member says, there are churches out there. i mean, there are mosques out there. go do that there. this is not the place for it. and i was thinking, egypt looked more advanced than we do on church and state. >> i'm not going to have that argument here saying that we
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should dismissory lig on. that's not what this is about. this is a fall see that this is denying women fees birth control. we spend 317 million dollars a year on something called title 10 that goes through all kinds of clinics, where women who can't afford birth control can go into any place and get it either for free or at a low cost. so this college student who talks about how women are being denied birth control, that's not true. there arereds of millions of taxpayers dollars that allow women access to contraception. (multiple speakers) >> on the contrary. until the affordable health care act, while a woman could get covered and indeed was covered in everything effecting her life, when it came to her reproductive health, contraceptives, she was not covered. she had to pay for that. now -- >> that doesn't mean -- >> that meant that it was important that you say to people who are covering women, you got
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to cover them for the range of their health. so it is not -- you can't say, go to planned parenthood and try to find -- if you can get yourself -- >> why not? >> come on! >> wait a minute. (multiple speakers). >> i think the numbers are what you said, which i don't think people are seeing this the way i think that they eventually will see it. because i do think the media and the white house has been very successful in turning to this issue. but let's be clear. the accommodation, quote/unquote, the president came out with, does not exist. he changed nothing. the very same language that existed with obama care about essential benefits is the very same language that is now a law today. there is no change whatsoever. the value still there. there is nothing different. >> i don't understand why we are still talking about religious accommodations. republicans are now doubling down and talking about corporations.
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so something that i have to admit, you guys had it. this was a winning issue for republicans. you bungled it because now it's about women, about access to health care and contraception. and now you have also doubled down and made this about corporations. >> we know that the main issue will be the economy and jobs, unless we get a tax or some foreign policy issue that comes up. but will this issue and the way the republicans handle it, energize women, particularly single women, because married white women tend to vote republican any way. unmarried white and women of color tend to vote democrat. they weren't energized by this president. will this turn it around? >> the big question not only bewomen but members of my generation, the millenial generation, those born after 1982, are they going to show up for president obama the way they did in 2008? this has become an issue for women and for young voters who
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may have lost their faith in president obama. this is a reminder of the stark difference between the republican and democrats. (multiple speakers). >> not trying to take any rights away. the republicans faulteddered on this and i will be critical of what was decided by having a hearing the way he had it. yes there were two women on the panel afterward but that got lost in the debate. like i ned my opening, the optics -- the visual? >> i mean, that's wt it is. the way you look at it, the way it's presented given the democrats this issue and it's not right. >> it was extraordinary change. what i mean by interrupting -- >> -- extraordinary change was that religious institutions, universities, hospitals, serve the public, by the way, the general public, do not have to give one dime, and have no part in delivering the contraception to women. the next part of it that solves
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the issue is, women get their contraceptives free of charge because the insurance companies pay for them and the reason the insurance companies pay for them is that it costs less for insurance companies to cover contraceptives than to cover childbirth without contraceptives -- >> quickly, quick question. virginia, backing off on the -- i don't want to use the term on television, but the forcing a woman to have something put in her private parts if she is seeking an abortion. why did governor mcdonald of virginia back off on that bill? >> well, i'm not sure why he made the decision. probably because given the way this debate on birth control and contraceptives is going, it wasn't a good idea. it would be difficult for him to justify this to the electorate. i understand he is very pro-life. i'm pro-life. i understand they want to reduce
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abortions as much as possible. so women understand what they are doing, it's a life. but, you know, procedures like this, i don't think it's something tat -- >> so you're already saying that it is -- >> i'm saying it's a way to make it look like that republicans are trying to somehow assert women's rights and it becomes a winning issue. it's a rallying point for the other side but i don't think it's a fair assessment because that's not what republicans are trying to do. >> please let us know you what think. follow me on twitter at bonnier bay. from contraceptives to honorrivics. france bids adieu to mademoiselle. the term mademoiselle is no longer an official term for french women and is being removed from all official documents. the change comes after lobbying by women's groups who called the
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term sexist. mademoiselle is used for unmarried women and it implies youthful immaturity. the women's groups objected to the term mademoiselle because the title requires women to divulge their private lives. now, official documents will only provide options for madame or monsieur, neither reveals marital status. >> so genevieve wood, is it sexist to have or distinguish between married and nonmarried? >> i think people ought to be able to allow to choose to describe themselves how they like to be described. >> in country you have a lot of options. mis, mrs., misses. this is unbelievably a silly debate they are having to a certain extent but they are french. let them have it. >> in this country, at least a generation ago, remember there was a mag named mrs.? they found the only people using ms. was single women. i insisted on using ms. all along but it faded away but it was an important way to say, why
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do you distinguish us when it comes marriage and you don't distinguish men? so it helped people to understand women's rights. >> is this a cosmetic fix and there are bigger things that need fixing. french women make 27% less than french men. there are zero woman at the head of big french corporations. those are real women femmist issues. >> if in your opinion france, what would you call a young woman? >> i would want to be -- madam sounds very doubty. >> look at what people -- maybe they could be whatever they want. >> now you're putting everybody in one -- >> they are not ban ago -- >> all government forms of it. >> but that -- (multiple speakers). >> one at a time, please. >> it says either you're married or not. which is giving away more than just a title. >> so what. are women that insecure about themselves in france? who cares? are you disempowering yourself because you're single or not? i think it's ridic us.
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>> it's more to rent to you if you were married but not single. >> that is no reason to is -- >> wouldn't that find that out -- (multiple speakers). >> the term madam month sell in america, has a certain affair about it. you think it's sexy and cool but in france, it's a feminist issue. but like alicia said, there is a wage gap problem in france. there is only a quota in place where female executives because they need more women in executive positions. it's up to 40% by 2007. prostitution -- looking to ban prostitution in france. (multiple speakers). >> france has gone a long way from last year. so i'm not sure -- that's the underlying thinking. >> these issues, developer beganically. this is a small issue -- developer beganically.
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when it comes to women asserting themselves, it's a small issue that seems trivial to us. and then i don't think we out to judge other women by what issues they decide to help them advance their own women's rights issues. behind the headlines, pregnancy project. when gabby rodriguez decided to face pregnancy for her senior project. she never expected to generate national media attention. rodriquez says people always expected her to become pregnant as a teenager. but she never accepted that stereotype. so, as her senior project in high school, she pretended to be pregnant. she wanted to see how people treated pregnant teens. >> my mom was a big inspiration
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in doing my project because she was a teen mom as well. she got pregnant at 15 and my three older sisters are teen moms as well, they got pregnant at 16, 17, and 19 and one of my four brothers was a teen dad as well. >> throughout the 6 ½ months of her "pregnancy," only a select few knew it was a faked. rodriguez confronted students, teachers and community members, many of whom expressed anger at the promising high schooler for becoming pregnant. she received little if any support. (low audio) then during a school wide assembly, rodriguez presented her senior project on stereotypes, revealing her pregnancy had been a hoax. many of her school mates were shocked, but she was stunned by the overwhelming media attention. >> i think that this project was such a spark because it's something unique and it's something that definitely sparks a lot of conversation from both people who don't necessarily
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agree with my project to those who support it. >> despite rodriguez's supporters, many people criticized her project because she had lied. others felt it made light of teen pregnancy. but rodriguez disagrees. she hopes to use her newfound fame to spread her message to teens across the country. >> i hope that i helped teens realize and kind of be more aware of unprotected sex in high school and also those who are ostracized by others feel that they can get the strength to move forward and get their education. >> and she hopes to make an impact in her community. rodriguez, who was often told she was destined to be a teen mom, wants young latinas to see teen pregnancy does not have to be manifest destiny. >> a lot of the reason is kind of the controversy of just our
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culture at our fifteenth birthday, blessing us to become women, hopefully that it sparks a lot of attention in latino girls that understand although that they have become a woman, they see it more as maturity instead of being sexually active.. >> though the project was stressful and often difficult, rodriguez believes it was worth the pain. >> the best thing that happened out of this project was definitely the people that were inspired after and telling me how proud they were and how much strength i gave them to fight against the stereotypes. >> was she right to do it or not? >> i think what was the point of this project? i have very strong feelings about this. considering the statistics show that she probably would become a teen brother before the age of 20, 52% of latina's unfortunately do become mothers before they are 20. her mother, she came from a family where her mother, sisters, brother had multiple women with multiple women before he was married as a teen. what stereotypes is she looking
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to try to dispel? it was amazing to me the way the adults in the room formed over this project as if this was some wonderful innovative thing. not really. i mean, where was the discussion about how difficult it is when you become a teen mother? how you need to break this trend. that this is not acceptable. yes people should have been digs disappointed in her for getting preg at that age. instead she was celebrated and i think it's an awful message to send. >> i agree. this missed the mark and especially because i think there was an opportunity to do something that really highlighted the reality of teen pregnancy. so often teen pregnancy is a consequence of dropping out of high school and it also could be the reason you dop route -- drop out of high school. they become intertwined and lead you into a cycle and pattern of positive needs f there are several reality shows various networks about -- >> oh, please. >> teen moms do not end up on
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fashion magazines. that's the biggest hoax in the world. i think she had an opportunity to speak to nose real issues. if we want to lower the number of abortions in this country, one of the things we need to do is support unmarried single mothers. helping them their entry into adulthood. this didn't get at that. >> and when you consider what she was trying to do, her peers didn't quite know what to make of it. she apparently was not treated harshly. if that was to be expected. >> so what -- had she been treated harshly? would that have been a good thing to show that children should not occur? this is an honor student. if she had gone around speakerring to young latinas about how she was an honor student and let me tell you the first thing i'm going to do is not get pregnant, she would have had an impact instead of pretending she was pregnant.
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some people never know she was pretending. >> why not use an opportunity to show i broke the cycle? i didn't make the same mistake. i learned from those. and her mother i think would have been probably had encouragedner that way. done the right thing as a mother as an adult. i find it fascinating that yes, the media jumped in to the latter part of the story and maybe she thinks i wouldn't have gotten attention if i would have been just who i was. but instead here is who i yam here is how different that is besides my family's experience, based on the numbers if you look at other neme my age group who are of latin descendant. i'm unusual. now people might pinangs a different way. i think sheook attention to all the bad things and didn't focused on good. >> what is the best way to try to convince teenagers -- i want being one. and you know everything. and you're always right and nobody else knows anything. not to get pregnant? >> it's to set the example and
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to not enable the teenaged pregnancy. it's an epidemic. yes it's going down but it is still way too high. >> going down since the 90s. 39%. but it's still way too high. >> among latinas? >> no in general. but it's still way too high among minorities and particularly black communities is the highest of all. and it's like, set the example of, this is what can you achieve if you do not get pregnant. there are options in your life. be the example. >> i understand and i agree. but unfortunately, it's hard to get them to hear you. i think you got to get straight into sex education and all that is available from abstinence to contraceptives to education, which is what you're after to improve your life. >> this is the life you will lead if you have a child at this age and this is the life you could have if you stay in school and get an education.
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(multiple speakers). >> don't the reality shows, the point of the reality shows that they are busting stereotypes showing how rot 10 is to be a teen mother -- video. (multiple speakers) (multiple speakers). >> -- just being on tv is enough for some people to think it's cool. >> you got to care. here is the life you can have if you don't get pregnant. that's important. at the same time though, frankly we have been way too accepting of teenaged motherhood in this country at every refuel i'm not saying to scorn people but shouldn't be celebrated. >> that's it for edition of too the contrary. next week for women's history month, a special show honoring women making history. let us know who you think is the most influential woman in history. please check our website, c this week, gay marriage makes
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headlines nationwide. and whether your views for agreement or to the contrary, please join us next time.
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