Abortion is a Winning Issue

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There’s a trend happening across America. In blue AND red states, people are voting to protect abortion rights, with Ohio just the latest example. It turns out abortion is winning elections. This week, Sam sits down with author and writer Rebecca Traister to dissect why a record number of voters are showing up in droves to protect reproductive freedom.

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Gloria Riviera and Samantha Bee are our hosts. Muna Danish is our supervising producer. Claire Jones is our producer. Isaura Aceves and Tony Williams are our associate producers. Ivan Kuraev and Natasha Jacobs are our audio engineers. Music by Hannis Brown with additional music by Natasha Jacobs. Story editing by Jackie Danziger, our VP of Narrative Content. Fact-checking by Naomi Barr. Executive producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs

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To follow along with a transcript, go to lemonadamedia.com/show/ shortly after the air date.



Speaker 1, Gloria Riviera, Samantha Bee, Speaker 2, Rebecca Traister

Samantha Bee  00:01

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Samantha Bee  00:41

Meet Jeanette McCurdy. She’s an author, a writer and a big feeler, so much so that she’s making a podcast all about her feelings. Jeannette’s memoir, I’m glad my mom died, welcome to the world into the story of Jeanette and all of the intense life experiences that molded her into the person she is today. But how does she manage all of the messy hard feelings she’s feeling right now? In each episode of Hard Feelings, her new podcast with Lemonada Media she’ll tell you all about it. Jealousy, shame, social anxiety. She wants to laugh about it, cry about it and work through it with you by her side, why these hard feelings are a big part of the human condition that unite us all but only once we’re willing to face them Hard Feelings is out now wherever you get your podcasts.


Speaker 1  01:33

Abortion is healthcare and abortion access is the law of the land in Ohio. Tonight, Ohioans united for reproductive rights passed issue one and put Ohioans back in charge of their decisions about pregnancy and abortion. Together we successfully enshrine the right to reproductive freedom into the Ohio constitution.


Samantha Bee  02:15

Gloria, do you want to know what my favorite part about this Ohio story is?


Samantha Bee  02:20

Yes, I do.


Samantha Bee  02:21

Okay, well, we have seen other states enshrine the right to abortion. But Ohio has swung red the last two elections. Some of these same voters voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020.


Samantha Bee  02:35

What’s even better is that Ohio is not the first red state to set a trend when it comes to voting on abortion.


Samantha Bee  02:42

Nope, ballot initiatives like the one Ohio just voted on showed up right after the dubs decision came down. The first state to vote on them was Kansas back in August 2022. And they voted in favor of abortion rights.


Samantha Bee  02:56

That was a huge deal. And it set a precedent for the 2022 midterms, were four other states had ballot initiatives about abortion.


Samantha Bee  03:04

Uh huh, and all of them voted in favor. Now I want to point out that we are seeing red states not only block super restrictive bans, but pass laws that actively ensure reproductive rights. To me that says one thing, voters care about access to abortion. They want it.


Samantha Bee  03:25

Absolutely, that message is now loud and clear.


Samantha Bee  03:30

This is The Defenders a show about the fight for freedom in a post-roe America. I’m Samantha Bee. This week, we’re doing something a little different. We’re sitting down with my good friend, writer and journalist Rebecca Traister. Earlier this year, Rebecca wrote an article for the QAT called abortion wins elections, and a really puts this fight into an historical, social and cultural context I hadn’t thought about before was absolutely fascinating. So we discuss why abortion is a winning issue, and why people are showing up in droves to protect it. Now, if you don’t know Rebecca, she writes about politics, media and entertainment from a feminist perspective. She’s written multiple award winning books, including her most recent good and mad the revolutionary power of women’s anger. She currently writes for New York Magazine. Okay, let’s get to my conversation with Rebecca Traister. Just a quick note, we talked to the morning after a mass shooting in Maine where Rebecca lives so you’ll hear us refer to this briefly at the top of our conversation.


Samantha Bee  04:44

Rebecca I always feel like you and I talk to each other when the world is one great big dumpster fire.


Rebecca Traister  04:50

I want to I want to ask you a comprehension question though, is impossible. That that is not some weird quirk of our personal timing, but rather evidence that the world is a perpetual dumpster fire.


Samantha Bee  05:06

It is a perpetual dumpster fire. In fact, I think we would be hard pressed to find a time, like a day or an hour to speak to each other. And, you know, enlighten us, for the world is just going great. And everything is smooth and easy.


Rebecca Traister  05:22



Samantha Bee  05:23

However, we are going to talk about something I think that is good, which is that voters are really showing up to defend access to abortion.


Rebecca Traister  05:34

Yeah, that is good from one from one angle. The reasons that they’re showing up to defend abortion access is those reasons are bad.


Samantha Bee  05:46

I was trying so hard to fish around for the only chocolate chip in that cookie.


Samantha Bee  05:52

Although I wouldn’t, I would also say that it was really bad before Roe was overturned. And that’s one of the things that I always try to point out like, yeah, there was roe. But the Hyde Amendment and ever tightening state restrictions on abortion access had basically made abortion inaccessible to vast swathes of people in this country. And that extra bad part in that era before Roe is overturned, is that most people did not understand that abortion was inaccessible to millions of people. What is good is that people now understand that this inaccessibility is a pressing issue about which they need to vote.


Samantha Bee  06:38

That is a sliver, a sliver of something. I’m going to I’m going to take it. Okay, so the outcome of these ballot initiatives was shocking. But can we start just talking about why I mean, for so long, Democrats have shied away from talking about abortion because it’s so divisive. At the same time, Republicans figure these restrictive ballot initiatives and red states were like a shoo in. And both were wrong in the midterms. What is going on? Right?


Rebecca Traister  07:10

Well, okay, so here’s post roe, there is a way that people it’s about polling. Okay. So post row, there were decades in which pollsters would go and ask people like abortion, yes or no? Right? Like, hey, love it, are you? Right? And they would get 50-50 divide, which told those pollsters and then the politicians who read those polls that you were in favor of abortion access and abortion rights, then 50% of voters weren’t going to like you. Okay, so then about 15 years ago, a new generation of pollsters comes and changes the methodology. And they start to ask it as to and I’m simplifying this tremendously, but they start to ask it as two questions. And the first question is, hey, personally, are you in favor of abortion, and they get that 50-50 number. And the second question they’d ask was, how do you feel about the state’s role in banning abortion or keeping it legal, they began to get numbers that were between like 60 and 70% of voters wanted abortion to be legally inaccessible in some form in states including red states, including Kansas, right and so pollsters have been trying to say like, this is actually not an irrevocable divide, right. This is not a lightning issue. It’s a very popular issue. And what we are seeing in places that are not give me states, the numbers are sky high in support of abortion rights and access, and that is clearly not just Democratic voters, it is very clear and you know, in arguable that there is support for abortion rights and access across the political spectrum.


Samantha Bee  08:55

Okay, so how do how do we build on this current, I guess, momentum? Can you even can you call it momentum would to continue working on enshrining this, right.


Rebecca Traister  09:09

One of the first things you have to start with is, so A. you have to understand abortion as part of the fabric of human life, okay, and it’s like, the access to abortion, linked with all kinds of other policy choices, right? Because you can’t just silo out abortion is its own thing. And that comes from a reproductive justice movement. And you have to understand that like, really deeply.


Samantha Bee  09:38

Yes, that’s so key. It’s a completely different framework and ideology. But it gets to a point about how ideas and language are constantly changing in this movement. For example, a lot of organizations are moving away from pro choice language, or how now we’re starting to tell different kinds of abortion. and stories, right? What kinds of shifts have you seen over the years on the left and the right when it comes to language and talking about abortion.


Rebecca Traister  10:09

So this is, I’ve written about this separately, the very act of abortion, storytelling, like this thing happened after Roe, like the anti abortion, right took up the language of family, and life and faith, and love, and babies. And they deployed it like, it’s like they ate our lunch on this, right? Like, this is what it means to stand against the legality of abortion is it’s all about family. And it’s like, the opposition just completely caved, didn’t fight for those words, were just like, you’re right. It’s a choice, it’s quiet choice, it’s a choice, and right. And it’s like we all absorb, even though we know that there have been abortion since the beginning of time across the globe, people have always ended pregnancies that they felt they did not want to or could not sustain. And yet we failed to tell those stories as one of the perpetual realities of human life. And the stories of our lives, and so, and Renee Bracey Sherman, who is a reproductive justice activist, and she’s an abortion storyteller, and she’s the founder of a group called We Testify, which is dedicated to people telling the stories of their abortion. This is something that I discovered when I was pregnant with my second child. It was 2014. And I was pregnant with my second child, and I was acutely aware of like the moment that my access to abortion ran out in the state of New York. And I wrote a piece where I called members of my family and asked them about their abortion history, I’d known that my mother had had an abortion. But I talked to other members of my family and discovered that not only my mother, but both my aunts and one grandmother had all had abortions that had not been like, I didn’t know the details, nobody ever told me those stories. And it was and I began to think at that moment that me, I’m a professional feminist writer, and I never just sort of turned around, even to my mother who I knew had had an abortion and been like, hey, why don’t you tell me about that? Right? Besides having just like, and, and when I called my aunt’s, and they and all the stories were different, all the stories were different. There were of those three people who were alive that I spoke to, and then one of my aunts told me a story of my grandmother who had had an abortion during the depression in in New York City, and whose best friend had also had an abortion and who had been wound up sterilized. Those were those were, of course, illegal abortions, one of my aunts had also had several illegal abortions, before it became legal in New York. Anyway, I began to think this is crazy in my family, that this wasn’t discussed. And so how many families are there out there where you don’t know that it was your, your sister, your mother, your aunt, your daughter? Like, right, because we’ve never been encouraged to talk about them, because we’ve absorbed this message that abortion is somehow morally questionable or gross or private, and we’re not supposed to talk about it.


Samantha Bee  13:09

Yeah, it’s not just the abortion itself. That’s icky, but that the people who have an abortion are also icky. I just want to say it’s very moving hearing about how you talk to your family about their own abortions. It’s something that we do not do enough of that is for sure. Okay, so some of the language that has been used to describe abortion, can we talk about safe, legal and rare?


Rebecca Traister  13:35

Right, so again, they’re all these sort of defensive ways in which people who theoretically wanted to be fighting for access and legality dressed up that fight in ways that actually was like they were hitting themselves in their own kneecaps at all times, right, like so safe, legal and rare, was like it was during Bill Clinton’s presidency. And it was and Clinton did, like he appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the court. He did not have hide in the budget, right. Like Clinton actually was pretty good when it comes to, I mean, as far as what the nature of the fight was at that air in that era. But the language that was used to dress it up and make it digestible, was safe. We want abortion to be safe, legal and rare. Okay, safe, great, legal, great. Whoa, what’s that third thing rare? Why? Why does it have to be rare? It accepts the framing of abortion as some tragedy and dolorous outcome and we don’t want it to happen. Well, why the hell not it is part of reproductive life. Okay, and there are still people who will hear this right now. It’d be like that that’s political suicide, screw that. Okay, like we we accepted a framework that was imposed on us by those who want to control reproduction and part of accepting that framework was accepting the notion that abortion should be rare. And that like, you know, gathering around the choice campfire is part of what undercut the kind of fighting we had to be doing. And I want to also give credit to a right wing, because here are other things that that aren’t directly tied to how we talk about abortion, but that the American right was doing it was electing people to state and local office to school boards, to city councils to state legislatures slowly taking over state states were, by the way, one of the first things they did when they when the right would gain control of those states is start to pass the statewide restrictions, which were like the last decade and a half, where they were passing bans, and they were passing the trap laws that said, you know, your clinic hallways had to be six feet wide or something. And, and they were winning. So we’re making.


Samantha Bee  15:52

We’re, we’ve made abortion using this language, we’ve made abortion seem like this outlier procedure. It’s just like siloed off from regular health care. It’s radical, when really it’s not. It’s just a normal part of healthcare that has been needed and has been used. And as people have been doing since the dawn of time, what are some of the lessons around successful or unsuccessful language that you saw in the 2022? midterms?


Rebecca Traister  16:18

Okay, so first of all, it’s taking back the language of, of freedom, of family of love, and understanding that those are all central to a fight for Reproductive Justice. Okay, and that, again, the reproductive justice movement has been doing this for years. But to see it in mainstream democratic politics is a new thing. Okay, so there are two things you have to do. First of all, you have to be able to say the word abortion without like making a weird face, okay. And this is a big problem in the Democratic Party that is still led by a generation of largely older white men, but I don’t want to say this is just an old white man problem. But a generation that thinks of abortion as super icky, and that anything you want to talk about, and also something that happens to other people, okay. And I would say there’s a different generation of politicians moving into a Democratic Party, who are far more comfortable than their forebears simply talking about abortion as like a real thing that happens to many of us. And that is a crucial cornerstone of our, you know, thriving. And so you have to be able to say the word abortion, but you also have to be able to understand how linked it is to other issues. So, human rights campaigns, criminal justice reforms, environmental activism, right, there’s been a way in which it’s been understood again, that abortion is part of a fabric that is connected the sort of reproductive justice model, and so you need politicians who again aren’t just going to silo it off and pretend it’s just about abortion.


Samantha Bee  17:51

After the break, Rebecca talks about a politician who did not silo abortion, in fact, she made it central to her 2022 midterm campaign.


Samantha Bee  18:08

This year in November, voters showed up for critical elections in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia were big issues from abortion access to Supreme Court seats, to fair voting districts were on the ballot. Next year, there will be 1000s of races happening from new ballot initiatives to primaries and the general election, and every one of these races will have an impact on reproductive justice. We’re talking everything from autonomy over our bodies to freedom and democracy. To learn about the issues and candidates in every race and on every ticket, visit www.vote411.org. To learn more about how to register and cast your ballot, go to www.vote411.org, that’s www.vote411.org. Make sure you vote in every race on your ballot. Because if you vote and you get your friends and family to vote, you’re a defender too. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation believes everyone should have a meaningful opportunity to thrive no matter who they are or where they come from. But right now, people in the US and across the world are confronted by enormous challenges from catastrophic climate change and pervasive inequities, to attacks on democracy itself. Institutions at every level are struggling to provide solutions that work for all people. And there’s a growing lack of faith in each other, and even in the possibility that progress is possible. That’s why the Hewlett Foundation supports a diverse set of creative thinkers and problem solvers who engage across differences, advance constructive dialogue and address institutional failures. Whether through its work in gender equity, democracy, environment, education or the arts. the Hewlett Foundation seeks to harness our collective capacity to build a world where all people have the opportunity to thrive. Learn more at hewlett.org.


Samantha Bee  20:11

Michigan was one of the states that enshrined the right to abortion in the 2022 midterms. Voters collected a historic amount of signatures to get the amendment on the ballot and then voted in favor of it by 13 points. On top of that, they flipped two seats in the state legislature giving it a Democratic majority for the first time in 40 years. The governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer committed to reproductive freedom loud and clear. That is where Rebecca and I pick up our conversation. Okay, how did state legislators in Michigan decide to talk about abortion when they ran for office?


Rebecca Traister  20:53

Well, first of all, they kept talking about it right they, so you also have a generation of people in the state legislature, including woman named Laurie Paretsky, Mallory McMorrow, a lot of people who are part of the 2018 wave of women who got into politics for the first time after Trump was elected part of the the wave of women who I know I was told we’d like just like pussy hat ladies who were dilettantes running around, you know, and weren’t very serious, and we’re just wine moms, a lot of them actually ran for office and created a historic wave of new Democrats actually correcting one of the party’s errors over the years, which was not to have invested in state and local government. And some of them told me stories of how when they ran in 2018, and nobody took them seriously. So they were out there talking about abortion, and nobody paid attention to them until they had won their primaries. And then the state party had come in and been like, you can’t talk about that. It’s very, very, like you’re running in a district that could go red and you don’t want to talk about abortion. And they just kept talking about abortion, and they won their seats anyway. So they have a conviction that they can talk about this and still win an election. And I want to tell you, as somebody covering this in the lead up to the midterms, every week, there was some very important political pundits saying abortion is fading as an issue. Sure, people were mad in June, but like, nobody’s gonna vote on this. They really have to back off. It’s very controversial. It’s not what people care about. I was hearing everywhere, like these guys shouldn’t be focusing on abortion and shouldn’t be focusing on abortion. And they insisted in in several states and continuing to do so and they want.


Samantha Bee  22:29

So then let’s talk about Gretchen Whitmer. Okay, because you write about her in your piece, how did she talk about abortion before the 2022 midterms? And then after she won her second term?


Rebecca Traister  22:39

A thing that I noticed that Whitmer did that was that is really fascinating to me when I was there. And this is after she wins. First of all, she sees it and speaks about it fluently as intimately tied to other civil rights protections, which is key because of course, the fight against trans people and health care and gender affirming health care. And access to that health care and against trans individuals and their families is so intense and so completely linked to the playbook on abortion, right. Whitmer understands that, like in her bones, and you can hear it when she talks. So she also talks and they have passed LGBTQ protections in the state of Michigan. So she sees the way that abortion is not in its own little icky silo. And the legislative team that she has there understands it being linked to attacks on on it same sex marriage, on contraception, right, there’s a great understanding of like, the whole slate of what’s at stake. And so she can she, she can talk about all those things together. And that’s crucial and true.


Samantha Bee  23:51

So she has a deep understanding of the Republican playbook, the literal playbook.


Rebecca Traister  23:56

And […] these things are all linked to a larger conservative project of like reestablishing certain forms of hierarchical order and control. That means like controlling people’s gender identities, controlling their reproductive lives, controlling their the way they marry, you know, like there’s there’s a whole larger project that, you know, abortion is a part of. But here’s the only thing she’s doing that I was like, wow, I would I have never heard this before. She is the cell she is making. Right? And I’m not and I don’t like I’m not doing an advertisement for Gretchen Whitmer here and in terms of what what which of her policies are going through and which are not and whether they’re, they’re constructed, right, but the the holistic sell that she has here is she was weaving, abortion rights and these other protections into a pro business pitch that sounded like it was coming. So she’s like, bring your bring your businesses to Michigan, where we’re going to protect the rights of your workers, and where you’re going to be able to keep the next generation of your family living near you, because they’re gonna want to live in this state where their ability to live freely is protected.


Samantha Bee  25:08

So clever.


Rebecca Traister  25:10

She was running on enshrining the right to abortion access in the state’s constitution, right, saying we’re gonna protect that access, also running to protect LGBTQ passing, you know, pushing through civil rights protections for gay, lesbian and trans people and their families. So there were those those two sets of protections. And she was also pointing out that in protecting the civil rights, she was also advertising a worker friendly state. So it’s a way to talk about abortion, where you’re giving a pro business spiel that could be coming out of the mouth of a Republican, except instead of saying, we’re gonna give you Corporation giant tax breaks, we’re gonna say, we’re saying we’re gonna give your corporation a chance to thrive.


Samantha Bee  26:07

So in the language in the language that she uses, she’s showing people how abortion is not just siloed off, it literally touches every issue, right, that people care about, including, like, just safety and freedom. You’re keeping it business friendly. And it’s all of these, like, it’s integrated into everything that we recognize this political meat and potatoes, economic stuff.


Rebecca Traister  26:33

And she and she pairs it with pitches that are still on, you know, for she has affordable college programs that she’s rolling out and, and pre k steps, you know, childcare. And you think it’s so simple. But it really hasn’t been simple for Democratic politicians to persuasively make this pitch with, like their guts behind it. Because fundamentally, for a long time, I don’t think they really believed it. I don’t think we really understood how closely linked all these things are?


Samantha Bee  27:02

Well, I think a lot of people who are listening to this may just be hearing this for the first time. So can you lay it out a little bit? I mean, because I think there are a lot of people listening who will agree like, yes, okay, abortion has a connection to affordable college, but they might not be able to connect the dots if they had to explain it to someone. So can you help us really understand why and how these economic issues relate to abortion access?


Rebecca Traister  27:30

Absolutely, so the decisions that pregnant people are making, they have to do with questions of our economic stability, of if whether and when to have a child, which of course, are questions that are linked to whether or not you have the option to end a pregnancy if desired or necessary. Those questions that we ask ourselves in our lives are also linked to our own economic stability. And our economic stability is linked to questions of whether or not we’ve had the opportunity to have to get a college education, right, will we be able to be able to afford child care for them? Will we be able to keep our own jobs or their unemployment benefits? When it comes to when it comes to the people who they may choose to raise their children with? Is that community safe from like criminal justice abuses? Right? Do you have access to the kinds of jobs and for that matter, the kinds of public transportation that can get you to jobs? So all of those things are are like calculations that I think many of us who are human beings, whether or not we’ve had children, whether we think we ever might have children. We do without thinking about how they’re linked to policy. It’s just about our own circumstances. But actually, the policies that our government makes on state and federal levels, really has an impact on on our individual existences.


Samantha Bee  28:56

Yeah, how we contemplate all the questions that you have articulated, has to do with the place where we live and whether we are supported.


Rebecca Traister  29:04

And we know that because of policy that that the United States has, has made over and over again, that those communities where there is less economic stability are more likely to be black and brown communities, immigrant communities, and those are the communities where already even before Roe access to abortion care was most significantly limited.


Samantha Bee  29:30

Okay, we have to take a quick break. When we come back. Rebecca tells us why it is time for abortion activists to take back the language of faith, family and freedom.


Samantha Bee  32:36

So often when you talk about elections, there’s the argument that you should only focus on the economy like you have to focus on the economy do not focus on abortion. And what Whitmer has done is really like drawn a picture a portrait of how those two issues are integrated. Abortion is an economic issue. What are some other issues it was connected to in 2022?


Rebecca Traister  33:02

It was very connected to issues of democracy protection, right? So in the wake of January 6, for instance, right? A lot of Democrats were really struggling to make clear the threat to democracy. And there was something about the Dobbs decision that actually really helped voters to see the link between the threat to democracy and the way that the the way that the court had been captured by President, you know, there was like a whole series of institutional collapse, things that have happened over the years, right, like, like the Senate denying a sitting president, his choice of Supreme Court justice in the wake of Scalia’s death, Trump winning, you know, thanks to the Electoral College, you know, was to jamming through any Coney Barrett before the election. Right, and then you get the dogs decision, which did come as a shock to a lot of people. And that helped abortion to resonate alongside this question of we are fighting for the democracy, right, in a way the Democrats have had trouble connecting that fight for democratic norms to any other issue.


Samantha Bee  34:20

Right, that is such an interesting way to think about it, too. Okay, taking all of this into consideration. So what do we need to do for a successful 2024 election year? I mean, what does that even mean?


Rebecca Traister  34:33

Well, as you know, I am my ability to make election years successful is well known around the globe.


Samantha Bee  34:43



Rebecca Traister  34:44

I no longer know one thing is that I think it would really, really help if people who were running for office were unapologetic and vociferous about the thing things that they think are morally correct? I’m really struck by the fact that a lot of the people who won elections in 2022 bucked what the political consultants were saying, because the political consultants were saying, like, dampen it, like, bring it down a notch. And they were like, no, fuck you. This is the crucial issue for our time. And I think that the feeling that people are actually fighting for something they believe in, is very powerful for voters, then then it comes down to when we’re talking about abortion. Do you in fact, understand how abortion is linked to faith, family and freedom. Pramila Jayapal said this, to me is something she’s been really fighting for faith, family and freedom and for Democrats to use those words. And I’ve spoken to other Democrats, some of them like heroes of mine who’ve been like who are so wary of using those words, because they’ve been so gobbled by the right wing. But privilege I pull is like, no, that’s the point. They’ve been weaponized against us when what we’re actually fighting for. And she, I mean, I am not going to quote her on this. But basically what she you know, she’s like, yes, the stability and thriving of our families, the faith, even if it’s not religious faith, faith in our democracy, freedom, right, she would tell you again, I also don’t want to do an ad for privilege iPad, but like, what she would tell you is that that’s part of why she’s doing the job that she’s doing. And that’s I want to believe that some percentage of our politicians are in it, because they actually do want American families to be better able to thrive and to prosper, and that they actually do believe in the potential of our democracy and our potential, the potential of our democracy to survive the onslaught that it is currently under. One thing that would really help is if those people who were running really came to it with like their hearts, it’s persuasive when someone talks about something they actually believe they actually care about, and they’re not worried about how pulled tested an issue is, right? What we need is for politicians who do see how all this stuff is linked to be out there explaining it to voters, even if we all know from our own daily lives, how these choices interact with each other. And, and so the Democratic Party has to be better at learning from a reproductive justice movement that has been doing this for a long time, lots of activist movements have been, how can the party be just clearer and more human? And it’s about being like, hey, you know what, let’s It’s Wednesday, let’s talk about what our choices are about our lives and what our levels of, you know, economic, professional, political, and civil security are paint a beautiful picture of what we’re fighting for, right?


Samantha Bee  35:31

Talking about envisioning a future because if Roe is the floor, not the ceiling, you have got clearly so we now have a chance to envision something different, something more expansive than Roe, what do you see as the possibilities here?


Rebecca Traister  37:58

All of it not legalized, accessible, free abortion care, along with accessible free health care, along with child tax credits, along with enhanced welfare and unemployment protections, along with higher wages, hey, let’s have a federal jobs program. Like, you know, you name it. And there is a way in which anybody would hear that and be like Ontarians, just a left wing like psychopath, bother activist language. Talk about a country that it is within our capacity to build we have just recently done some of these things, the pandemic relief policies that permitted people a level of stability in a very perilous time, guess what, we’re always in a perilous time in this country?


Samantha Bee  38:51

Can we have a social safety net that can actually sustain us like, but really.


Rebecca Traister  38:56

Right and imagine a life where you could count on getting the health care that you need and count on your family having the health care that that they need? Imagine having affordable housing and union protections, terrific and environmentally responsible public transportation options and high speed rail? I mean, seriously, all these things there is a country we can make that is that is beautiful, and safer for more people. It is within it’s not impossible. It does take time and it takes fighting but to fight and fight for something beautiful.


Samantha Bee  39:32

Ah, well, you don’t want the name of this podcast is The Defenders and I feel like I feel like that’s what you just fully articulated. Who’s your defender who do you really turn to as your as the shining light of like, who, who’s doing this work?


Rebecca Traister  39:48

So there are politicians and policymakers who have been doing this kind of fighting in a in a robust way, in ways that I really admire, and I would start with Shirley Chisholm, right, who is who is no longer living, but who is an absolute pioneer on all of this, and who instinctively understood how all these things went together, and what she was fighting for. And then, you know, Barbara Lee, who is a congresswoman who is the person who, before Roe was overturned, actually renewed a fight against Hyde, which is heroic, and she did it. In part because she was pressured by young reproductive justice activists, all above all group that pressured her to take up the fight against Hyde, again, which basically the Democratic Party had just let Hyde go and allowed abortion to be inaccessible to poor people for decades. And Barbara Lee really pushed it and, and push something called the each act, which is still, which she continues to introduce. that would that would reverse Hyde. And then the other thing I want to, I want to say is that the people who are just providing abortions who are fighting, you know, and the abortion funds and the people who are trying to get people the care that they need the people we’re trying to get medication abortions, the the lawyers who are out there fighting to keep medication, abortion accessible to people who are having these fights in states around the country, there are so many people at policy and legal levels who are doing this work of fighting through these impossibly difficult times. All of those people are the people that I look to, and I’m so grateful for every day.


Samantha Bee  41:27

Thank you so much for this. Oh, oh, that was great. Every time I talk to Rebecca, I feel so energized. I feel motivated to talk about abortion more, which like, I know, okay, we have this whole podcast. But I think about the fact that for so long, people just didn’t even say the word abortion. I remember being in late night and probably being one of the first people to say abortion, and to say it again, and again, and again. Look, people have spent a lot of time being very comfortable saying pro choice and thinking that was enough and not really wanting to evolve. I mean, there were and are people who get DNC’s and a lot of them don’t even know that that’s the same procedure as an abortion. This has been so hush hush for so long a word stuck in people’s mouths, that talking about it is huge. It is what is making the difference.


Gloria Riviera  42:28

That’s right. We need to keep talking about it. Even in places where it’s not very common, like church coming up next week.


Speaker 2  42:38

Everything you think you know about preachers, you don’t.


Gloria Riviera  42:41

We’ll meet the faith leaders standing up in support of reproductive rights.


Speaker 2  42:46

There is this messaging out there by and large that preachers are anti abortion, and many of us aren’t.


Gloria Riviera  42:52

That’s next time on The Defenders.


CREDITS  43:03

The Defenders is a production of Lemonada Media. We’re your hosts Gloria Riviera, and Samantha Bee. Muna Danish  is our supervising producer. Lisa Phu  is our producer. Isaura Aceves and Tony Williams are our associate producers. Ivan Kuraev and Natasha Jacobs are our audio engineers. Music by Hannis Brown with additional music by Natasha Jacobs. Story editing by Jackie Danziger, our VP of narrative content. Fact checking by Naomi Barr. Executive Producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs. This series is supported by Charles and Lynn Schusterman, Family Philanthropies, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Levi Strauss foundation. Follow The Defenders wherever you get your podcasts or listen ad free on Amazon music with your Prime membership.

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