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Today in the Laboratories of Democracy

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The good people of Missouri elect only the finest citizens.

Missouri’s Senate is considering legislation that would allow employers and landlords to discriminate against women who use birth control or have had abortions. The bill, which has the support of the state’s governor, Eric Greitens, was approved by the Missouri House Tuesday.

Known as SB 5, the bill was first passed by the Senate on June 14 following a special session called by Greitens. His aim was to overturn an ordinance that prevents employers and housing providers from punishing women for their reproductive health choices, according to a report by Feministing, a feminist website.

The ordinance was passed by the city of St. Louis, and Greitens had said it made the area into “an abortion sanctuary city.” The Senate seemed to agree with him, as did the House, which on Tuesday passed an expanded version of SB 5 that included more anti-abortion restrictions. Given the Senate’s vote on June 14, it it seen as likely to approve the updated version of SB 5. This would mean that landlords could refuse to offer housing to women based on their reproductive health choices, while employers could fire female staff members who were using birth control, or refuse to hire them. And while of course this isn’t information most landlords or employers have access to, under SB 5 they could ask women what forms of reproductive health care they are using.

To be fair, discriminating against women for using birth control is consistent with Republican ideology these days. It’s only a matter of how far they will go to ensure to punish those women. After all, every womb is a potential abortion sanctuary.

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  • N__B

    Kinder, Küche, Kirche.

    • Scratch some of these right wing legislators and you will often find people worried about declining “white” birth rates.

      • AMK

        Yup, and those people are too stupid to realize that the way to do that would be making abortion as accessible as possible, making insurers cover maternity care and taxing rich people to provide things like quality daycare.

  • Steve LaBonne

    Simply the latest demonstration that the “pro-life” movement is about misogyny, not “life”.

    • Now, now, don’t go attributing psychology to people who just want women to stay in their place so everyone can have a pony again!

      ETA It’s nice to have people like Steve and Scott around, BTW, to fight the good fight and make sure women know they’re welcome if they do decide to brave a situation everyone knows is difficult for them.

  • cleek

    Dear Missouri,

    Thank you for taking over the #1 spot.

    -North Carolina

    • farin

      Dear Missouri,
      Just kidding! Get rekt!
      -North Carolina

    • science_goy

      Sadly, I doubt this will garner even a fraction of the public outrage and activism that NC’s laws did.

    • cpinva

      Virginia sends its regards as well. we’ll get those wands into women unnecessarily yet!

  • Lot_49

    The Show-Me State is like Pennsylvania: two fairly blue cities separated by Alabama.

    • Huh: My impression is that Missouri’s considered more of a backwater than PA – like a mix between Arkansas and Kansas/Iowa/Ohio/[insert stereotypically podunk Midwestern state].

      • ASV

        Missouri is more culturally southern in its open aggression and abrasiveness, but the main thing that distinguishes it from Pennsylvania is that the population balance is more tilted toward the rural middle.

        • Also in PA the rural areas are much more overwhelmingly white than in MO.

          Philly itself is more Southern in a lot of ways than NYC is. It’s an hour or two to Wilmington, where they had an Arthur Treacher’s that sold hush puppies.

          • Origami Isopod

            Philly itself is more Southern in a lot of ways than NYC is.

            Definitely. And once you get to Wilmington and Baltimore it’s quite Southern, even if you’re still above the M-D line. It’s a gradient, sort of.

            • Stupid question: Besides having a lot of black residents from the South (and with all that entails), how else is NYC Southern?

              • N__B

                In the nineteenth century, the answer was that a lot of NY’s wealth came from trade and a lot of that trade was with the south. That economic realty was behind the insane secession plan that some Tammany men floated to get votes. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partition_and_secession_in_New_York#Civil_War_era )

                Since then, not sure if it’s so applicable.

                • wjts

                  I’m reading The Kingdom of Matthais at the moment, and there’s a little bit on the early 19th-century divide between the older economic elites (long-established in the city,salt-water” trade, property, Anglican) and the then-rising elites (transplants from New England and New England “colonies” like Newark, internal trade with NE/Western New York, Congregational). The former had more than a little in common economically and culturally with Southern elites in Virginia.

                • N__B

                  Sure. The construction of first the Erie Canal and then the railroads exacerbated that division among the elites by changing the established pre-industrial patterns of trade…yadda yadda… something about creative destruction…

              • Do you mean Philly? Philadelphia is culturally southern in places not just because there are black people. You say Philadelphia and everyone immediately thinks “black people” as if those racist cops don’t come from somewhere, as if the red lines weren’t making white (and north-European Christian) neighborhoods, and as if the idea that Philadelphia is all black isn’t itself racist.

                Popular foods. Music. Shrubs that grow in Philadelphia often won’t grow farther north, also.

                • Your comment “more Southern than NYC” implied that NYC is a notably Southern Northern city, which is why I was asking.

                • It’s interesting that you read it that way. To me it seems the opposite. NYC as quite Northern, Phila. by contrast doesn’t fit the Northern pattern in some ways.

            • Zagarna_84

              Actually, Baltimore and Wilmington are below the Mason-Dixon line. [/pedantic]

          • cpinva

            “It’s an hour or two to Wilmington, where they had an Arthur Treacher’s that sold hush puppies.”

            ok, those aren’t real hushpuppies, they come frozen in bags, and they just heat them up. real hushpuppies would be made from scratch on site, like they do in the restaurants on the outer banks. real southerners, of any ilk, will immediately recognize the difference.

            • Now that I think of it, the pecan pie wasn’t that good either.

  • Bitter Scribe

    TO: Jane Hapless

    FROM: ChristCo Inc. HR

    RE: Fertility interruption deduction

    It has come to the attention of our department that in the three years you have been employed at ChristCo, you have not conceived a child. Since you are married and presumably performing your wifely duties, we are forced to conclude that you are using some form of artificial contraception.

    It is the policy of ChristCo not to allow the wages we pay to be used to subvert God-given fertility. We therefore are deducting from your pay the monthly cost of the most common oral contraceptive, retroactive to your first month of employment. Total deduction comes to $947.16.

    You can appeal this decision on grounds of infertility. Please be prepared if making this claim to be examined by a doctor of our choosing.

    Because money is fungible, arguments that your contraceptives were purchased with your husband’s salary or through other means will not be entertained.

    May you have a blessed day in Christ.

    • Karen24

      Don’t give them any ideas.

      • Seriously.

      • cpinva

        no shit. although, the concept of “ideas” presupposes an intelligent being capable of independent thought. by definition, this tends to exclude most religious entities, so there’s some hope there.

        to the picture above: I watched the original movie, with Robert Duval, and have been comparing it to the current HBO version. Duval was just a so much better actor, able to elicit fear quietly and calmly. this second version really stands no chance.

    • efgoldman

      TO: Jane Hapless
      FROM: ChristCo Inc. HR
      RE: Fertility interruption deduction

      As I’m reading this memo, I thought “this should be in sarcasm font.
      Until I thought about it for about three seconds.
      There are some sick, sick people out there, and it isn’t the women.

      • cpinva

        ef, see Hobby Lobby.

  • D. C. Sessions

    This is a really GREAT idea! It solves a longstanding problem, specifically how to avoid employing older women and those who might get pregnant. Any woman not using oral contraceptives (not advised or prescribed for those past their expiration date) is out the door, and any who get pregnant anyway can be fired for cause, thus saving all sorts of trouble and expense.

  • DrDick

    And we have another entrant in the race to become the most regressive state in the union. The field is getting packed.

  • Lit3Bolt

    Does this mean that employers can fire men for using Viagra?

    • Karen24

      Bite your tongue! Viagra does nothing but assist the God-guaranteed right of males to boners! NOTHING MUST STOP THE BONER!

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        please, no Freddie

        • farin

          If God wants us all to have Freddie, He’s no god of mine.

      • N__B

        I’m picturing the Spiderman origin story but with a radioactive dildo rather than a radioactive spider.

        • efgoldman

          I’m picturing the Spiderman origin story but with a radioactive dildo rather than a radioactive spider.

          For an old bear, you have a VERY active imagination.
          It sure would have made the comic books… interesting… to the average twelve-year old boy.

      • cpinva

        hey Karen, every sperm is precious!

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          Somehow I’m reminded of that great scene in Woody Allen’s film (Everything you always wanted to know etc)

    • lizzie

      Actual argument I’ve seen: unlike contraception, viagra is a legitimate medication because it’s treating a pathological condition. Whereas contraception unnaturally interferes with a normal biological process, and women who use it just have an irrational fear of pregnancy.

      • Karen24

        I’ve seen that one, too.

      • Origami Isopod

        Yep. A huge anti-choice talking point is that pregnancy is “normal,” and since we all live in the Greatest Country Ever and we all have terrific health insurance, there are no risks whatsoever and feminists are lying about such risks.

        • Joe Bob the III

          A relative of mine recently had surgery for both a prolapsed uterus and bladder. As it turns out, multiple vaginal births can be tough on a woman’s body…who knew??? The anti-choice crowd makes birthing babies sound like no big deal…a temporary inconvenience at worst.

          • rm

            Well, Calvin wrote that a woman dying in childbirth is no big deal, because that’s what she’s for.

    • corporatecake

      Forget Viagra. Men are the users of most condoms, and last I checked, they were birth control.

      • Ah, you youngsters.

        First time I checked, they were SOLD ONLY FOR PREVENTION OF DISEASE: said so on every package!

        • N__B

          Not for making miniature balloon animals?

          So very very sad.

          • If you spend enough time making balloon animals out of condoms, women won’t have sex with you so they work that way too.

        • corporatecake

          I guess that prevention of pregnancy is just a happy accident, then.

    • JMP

      I have a moral objection to the use of viagra, because it interferes with my imaginary friend’s plan that men’s dicks should stop working when they get old, and anyway old men having sex is really gross, therefore I should be able to prevent my employees from using viagra in their private lives!

  • DaftPunk

    We all know that the best government is at the smallest, most local level, and no community should have it’s laws dictated to it from a distant capitol whose elites are out of touch with the conditions their laws effect… Oh, nevermind!

  • Hondo

    We went to the Outer Banks in NC for a family reunion trip for a week last summer, and decided we would go back this year. Then after Trump and all that has come with him, we all decided to go somewhere else in order to boycott those fucking lunatics. Plus the traffic sucked due to really severe overdevelopment. Then our CEO canceled all time off for the rest of the year for all of engineering in order to punish us for not building his new airplane according to his ridiculously unrealistic schedule. So, it’s a moot point for me.
    I can see this kind of shit in states like NC, and MO encouraging the self-sorting out that is supposedly occurring in this country. Who would want to live under the control of such assholes?
    A great migration once took place out of the Jim Crow south back around WW1. Maybe something similar will begin to occur among the working poor who need medical care for their children, or a wage they can live on, or get away from such laws.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      a) this is why I have so little patience for the earnest authors of the “oh! all the sorting!” books. YOU try living with these freaks! (Note: I have been for decades. It’s lonely.)

      2) Alas, industry has fled the northern zone. Before there was NAFTA, there was the Sun Belt. Union-free, or weak unions, and state subsidies, too! Even BMW and Mercedes and Michelin got in on the act. The great migration had a choice of turpentine camp in FL or picking cotton in AR, or a job in thriving Chicago, Detroit, Flint, Pontiac, Etc etc etc, on and on.

      • Another good reason for moving industry South was so the people (of all races) there could get incorporated into the modern economy and wouldn’t vote for populist demagogues out of a feeling of resentment.

        ETA what went wrong? Maybe over reliance on an idea that masses of people would act automatically, and failing to winning over the community leaders wouldn’t matter? Or letting those leaders con Northerners into concluding that traditional Southern mores are actually more compatible with true liberalism than industrialism is? It’s hard to choose.

        • N__B

          Did any industry move stating that reason? Was that the stated purpose of any government regulation of industry?

          I’m all for the entire country advancing together, but I’ve never heard that reason before and I’m wondering how it was applied.

          • Talking of national policy, what people who read NYT, Atlantic Monthly, Partisan Review might have thought, concern fr Soutern “backwardness”.

            All of whom were inclined to overestimate the ability of anyone to say “hey everyone let’s move the nation together” and have it happen. Not much different from Robert Moses in this.

            • N__B

              Not much different from Robert Moses in this.

              I don’t follow…

              • Sorry. No time.

                • N__B

                  If you have time later, I’m interested in your response.

          • cpinva

            “Did any industry move stating that reason? Was that the stated purpose of any government regulation of industry?”

            yes and yes. the companies stated that the moves would result in lower labor costs (ie: no or weak unions), and state regulation explicitly encompassed that: “fire-at-will” laws. since the big companies were publicly held, they had to explain to their shareholders why they were going to the expense and disruption of moving operations south, since that would directly affect earnings per share and, more importantly, dividends. look at any publicly held company’s Form 10-K, available at the SEC website, this explanation will be, at minimum, in the notes to the financials, as part of required disclosures. that’s the place I always went to first, because that’s actually the most interesting part of any set of audited financial statements. it’s where all the goodies are hidden.

            • N__B

              My questions were in response to Bianca Steele’s statement that the industry moves were “so the people (of all races) there could get incorporated into the modern economy and wouldn’t vote for populist demagogues out of a feeling of resentment.” I’m familiar with the economic reasons you’r discussing.

        • D. C. Sessions

          Moving industry South was all about luring businesses with low tax rate, low wages, no unions (keeping the wages low and life cheap), and a workforce with no alternatives. The States got some taxes and a reduction in costs for unemployable workers in return.

          Best of all, the brown folk up North would just about as soon shoot themselves rather than go to the trouble and expense of moving so that someone else could so it. Which helped keep the politically unreliable away as well as wages down.

        • efgoldman

          Another good reason for moving industry South was so the people (of all races) there could get incorporated into the modern economy

          I’m not a historian nor an economist, and I don’t play one on TV, but living and working in old mill towns in New England, the understanding is, it was a totally price-driven exodus by the businesses. The same reason the same businesses (that survive) have left the US altogether for China, Bangladesh, Honduras….

          • It’s more complicated than that. The government played a major role in reshaping the geography of American industrialization during the mid-20th century through the building of defense plants, the placement of military bases, and the damming of rivers, most of which vastly benefited the South and West at the expense of the older industrialized parts of the nation.

            • cpinva

              there are some military bases in the northeast, my dad was stationed at one of them when I was young. one of the big reasons so many were placed in the south and west was the easy availability of huge tracts of undeveloped land in those areas. this makes it a fairly effortless transaction, and military bases tend to take up large swaths of land for their operations. the nearby localities are happy, because military bases bring in large, new sources of revenue. so, win-win.

    • Your CEO also complains about high turnover and low morale, doesn’t he? “Damnable ingrates! Always whining about overwork and exhaustion! And they show no loyalty to me! I’ll show them, I’ll cut their pay!”

  • Just_Dropping_By

    Wouldn’t this be preempted by the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978?

    • Denverite

      Per the linked article, the act is silent on birth control. No clue whether that’s correct. IANAEL.

    • ema

      Or by the fact that contraception is FDA approved medication and abortion is a safe, effective, and legal medical procedure?

      • cpinva

        or by the fact that federal law makes discrimination, on account of gender, illegal. the law is dead in the water, this is just a “get votes from my lunatic constituents” law.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      How quaint an idea- that a federal law applies to states who don’t like it.

  • The tech industry solution to this, of course, and one easily replicated, is not to hire people who aren’t a good fit.

    Politically, I suppose, this leads to questioning whether techies are more or less naturally inclined to punish women who use contraception, and more or less inclined to consider those who do a good fit. I suppose this is a matter of potential dispute, though I suspect less. (Defense possibly excepted.)

    This does lead to two potential further problems: the “should we just let the red states screw themselves over” problem, and the “they will see us as smug and vote against us problem.” The second seems somewhat moot n the circumstances, and the first, well, hard to get excited over. If the companies that do this are good, maybe they’ll persuade others rationally. If they’re bad, well, there’s always the good old death spiral.

    Government, of course, needs to be thought of in different terms. It so amuses me to see “death spiral” applied to the White House, which isn’t really going to go bankrupt, or lose all its personnel to voluntary attrition, or lose any kind of market-like contest.

    • D. C. Sessions

      It so amuses me to see “death spiral” applied to the White House, which isn’t really going to go bankrupt, or lose all its personnel to voluntary attrition, or lose any kind of market-like contest.

      Well, the Administration is reported to be having a difficult time recruiting and quite a few are jumping ship before they’re pushed.
      Bankruptcy? Last I checked WH operations are way over budget, in significant part due to weekly vacation trips. Congress is going to have to either appropriate some more for it or pull the plug. Neither is going to look good.
      As for markets, it’s not clear what the going rate is for high-level Administration services. There is some sort of revenue maximization point, and generally attempts to go past it don’t end well.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        “Congress is going to have to either appropriate some more for it”

        IOKIYAR.

    • JMP

      The techies manage to avoid the discussion entirely by just refusing to hire women period.

      • Right. I don’t exist.

      • cleek

        at the rather large software company where i work, there are lots of women, at all levels.

    • vic rattlehead

      “The tech industry solution to this, of course, and one easily replicated, is not to hire people who aren’t a good fit.”

      I think I’m missing something. I don’t understand how this idea of “fit” is responsive to the issue of discriminatory legislation?

      • Is the original article about discriminatory legislation? Maybe I don’t know what “discriminatory legislation” really is. I’m not a lawyer. The OP describes it as legislation that permits employers to discriminate if they want to. Is there something about the concept I’m missing?

        The OP implies that there are lots of managers who want to do this. My point is that if we don’t want the people we hire to be assholes, we don’t hire assholes. I don’t see how the assholes can reasonably object to this. Object, I imagine, they may. Just not reasonably. Freedom of association and all.

        There is of course the possible case of the discriminatory asshole who is also a competent employee able to get along with the other employees and maintain a functional organization. I suppose that it’s possible such a person exists (the “Republicans are the daddies” crowd surely thinks it is) but not bloody likely in my experience. They’re incompetent whingers to a man, and if one seems not to be, you only have to wait until he doesn’t get his way just once.

  • BiloSagdiyev

    What about male tenants who jerk it into a sock? Why do we never hear about the horrors of onanism from this crowd?

    And man, they have moved the goalposts just as I said they would, having nearly achieved victory on abortion. (Low info/apolitical people look at you like you have horns on your head when you say they’ll be going after contraception next.) And not the conflation of birth control with “abortion” – does that include con-domes? The rhythm method? Freaks.

    Also, this will have the actual practical effect of Jack Squat, as women learn (immediately) to lie and say they’re using abstinence, just like Baby Christmas Jesus wants us to. So all it does is give the dominant a-holes a chance to bully people and make them bow and scrape. Which is somewhere in the good book, I’m sure.

    GOVERNOR Greitens? Dammit, I missed that news. Fucking Mr. Sensitive with the Rhodes Scholarship and the orphanage service yadda yadda yadda go fuck yerself. (I won’t count this against Jon Stewart and another one of his softball interviews, because I don’t think E.G. was letting on at all in that phase of his political career.)

    • Redwood Rhiadra

      Also, this will have the actual practical effect of Jack Squat, as women learn (immediately) to lie and say they’re using abstinence, just like Baby Christmas Jesus wants us to.

      That only works until your landlord spots your box of BC pills when doing maintenance or a mold check or whatever.

      • D. C. Sessions

        Or random “drug tests.”

  • Cheap Wino

    Looking forward to the convoluted pretzel logic that’ll be proffered by the libertarian wing of the GOP when his spreads nationally. Can’t infringe on the rights of landlords something, something.

    • N__B

      Can’t infringe on the first-amendment rights of buildings to follow their religions’ tenets. The tenants’ tenets, not so much.

      • rm

        Yeah, libertarians are usually concerned with the owners’ and patriarchs’ liberty, not the subordinates’. Only government can oppress, not corporations or privileged groups.

        • There is also a trend among libertarians towards arguing that “traditions” have to supplement their ideology. Sometimes this appears to be simply an acknowledgment that we don’t actually rediscover how our society runs from first principles for every person, that our culture has a history, and so on. But increasingly it’s becoming clear that they’d like a “libertarian” society that strongly encourages everyone to belong to religions, and to the conservative versions of those. They are turning out to be more concerned about godless liberalism “infringing” on religionists’ ability to practice parts of their religion some might think infringes others’ rights, than about people’s ability not to practice those religions.

    • Linnaeus

      If employers and landlords can discriminate against women who use birth control or have abortions, then some enterprising type who owns a building or a business can choose not to discriminate, and then renters and employees, using their freedom of choice, will go to the not-discriminating owner/employer and the discriminating owners will lose out. It’s the magic of the Free Market(tm).

      • The interesting thing is that whether that’s a productive argument right now depends on where the threat is right now. Right now the threat to most people is not actually that they work for employers who discriminate against women who aren’t “chaste.”

        Right now the threat to *the law* is people who want to discriminate against such women. That’s something different.

        • Linnaeus

          I don’t disagree – I was just poking some fun at libertarian arguments and how they’re used to justify just about anything, even things libertarians would say they don’t like.

      • Also, while it’s good to highlight cases where people are being discriminated against, if there are only a few people who want to discriminate, it’s at least possible to help the potential victims (and it’s not persuading them that conservative Christianity is always dominant for structural reasons).

  • dl

    weren’t there people at election time saying that this governor was more liberal than the Dem he ran against?

    • D. C. Sessions

      weren’t there people at election time saying that this governor was more liberal than the Dem he ran against?

      That’s always the case. Any trivial variation from One True Progressivism renders a Democrat Unclean!! Unclean!! while any non-negative item on the same list renders a Republican as a True Repentant and thus superior to the Apostate.

  • Sebastian_h

    The ordinance was passed by the city of St. Louis, and Greitens had said it made the area into “an abortion sanctuary city.””

    I tried to look into this. What were they trying to be a sanctuary from? Is there any useful background on what this ordinance was all about? I’m tempted to believe that part of this story is about the stupidity of using laws as signaling instead of as mechanisms for dealing with specific problems, but I admit that is just my bias so I’m open to looking at the reporting of the problem this was trying to deal with.

    • It’s just a “noun, verb, and 9/11” situation. Alternately:

      You just said a noun and “gremlin” like you playin’ madlibs. You just like a child. You have the brain of a child. You do not have a high IQ.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      This law IS a mechanism for dealing with specific problems: in this case, it might still be possible to get an abortion in St. Louis, but not most other places in MO, and this is delaying their goal of making MO an abortion-free state.

      • Sebastian_h

        That doesn’t make sense, city ordinances can’t overrule state law. (That’s why if the state law passes it wins). It seems like the city was doing a for show ordinance, that turned into a rallying cry for stupid Republicans.

  • Tracy Lightcap

    The law, if passed, would be a violation of Title 7 of the CRA. Not to mention being unconstitutional on its face. Even a USSC with Gorsuch in it wouldn’t uphold this.

    Well, maybe Missouri enjoys paying millions for federal lawsuits. It takes all kinds.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      I’d bet a USSC with enough Gorusches would.

  • NeonTrotsky

    This seems like blatant 4th amendment violation, but I’m no lawyer.

  • AMK

    The state legislators in question almost certainly won the vast majority of women in their districts, and if the Governor didn’t win an outright majority of women in Missouri, he certainly won the vast majority of women from GOP constituencies. When this is what lots of red-state women themselves want or don’t care about, there’s only so much anyone can do.

    • were-witch

      “When this is what lots of red-state women themselves want or don’t care about, there’s only so much anyone can do.”

      This logic only applies to well-understood referenda with near-universal voting participation.

  • were-witch

    I can’t help but feel this illustrates how the Supreme Court went in exactly the wrong direction with regard to pre-clearance, which badly needed to be dramatically expanded in scope.

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