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To read more about Episode 236, visit the main episode page.
Michael Moore [00:01:15] That’s Patty Griffin with her song, “Be Careful.” And I’m Michael Moore. This is Rumble, my podcast. Thank you for listening today. As I’m recording this, actually, I noticed on the calendar that this is the 75th anniversary of the day that Major League Baseball allowed Jackie Robinson to play the game. 75 years ago today, there were no black baseball players in the major leagues. There were no black players in the NFL, the NBA, hockey, of course, golf, tennis, NASCAR, whatever. And there were no women. There were no major leagues of women. There were women who played sports, but this was a white man’s game because it was a white man’s world. And nobody saw anything wrong with that. Well, I shouldn’t say nobody. I think a lot of women saw something wrong with that, and I think people of color saw a lot of things wrong with that. And then finally, a few white people who I guess had a conscience, or maybe it was just they decided, you know, “we’re missing out on some money here, folks! Only playing white people and appealing to white people — there are other people in this country and there’s money to be made.” But whatever the reason, and certainly in the case of the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, they decided enough was enough.
Michael Moore [00:02:50] And if you’ve read anything about that era and this particular day, this is like, I don’t know, maybe seven or eight years before I was born. But I only say that to point out that as a child and growing up, these attitudes just didn’t go away. People did not like watching — white people I mean — watching black people playing their sports. And it took some time for that bigotry to die down. A lot of it never went away, of course, because here we are in the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson first playing in the Major Leagues and we have a growing movement of white supremacists. We have all kinds of crap. Whether it’s the fact that the Voting Rights Act was abandoned, the one that was enacted in 1965. Voter suppression. Gerrymandering. All the stuff that still goes on to keep the black woman and man down. To this day. You’ve seen it on the news in the last week or two. They’re getting ready for the midterms in November, and they want as few black people to vote as possible. I mean, it’s just amazing. And I guess it is amazing that 75 years later, we’re still having to deal with this crap. Not so much African-Americans playing in major league sports, but look how long it took just to get a WNBA so women could have their own leagues and audiences in whatever. It’s a whole bunch of things that are going on right now and things were having to deal with, and we’ve got the November elections coming up. And there is so much energy and money being spent on the other side to make sure that the voices of those who are not white men are suppressed.
Michael Moore [00:04:51] And so that means that the majority, the actual majority of us, that being women, the majority gender, people of color, some white guys, and a lot of young people. You put all that together. That’s the majority. So will we rule? Will the majority rule? Will we get the Senate the way we need it this November? Will we lose the House? Could that actually happen? You know, I’ve been fairly optimistic about this, but with the caveat that we will all get involved, we will all participate and we will not let the supremacists and the misogynists run this country. And we have to be bold, and brave, and active to make sure that happens because it will not happen on its own. I mean, just look at this last week. What has happened on the issue of abortion? Texas signed their law. And Kentucky, and Oklahoma. There are three or four states just this week that essentially, with the way the law is written, eliminated a woman’s right to choose what to do with her reproductive organs, what to do with her body. They’re all getting ready. They’re all gearing up for something that’s going to happen, possibly as soon as six to nine weeks. The Supreme Court’s going to rule. I think we all have a good idea of what’s going to happen and then what are we going to do about it? We’re not going impeach Trump’s people off the Supreme Court in the next couple of months. I mean, they would do that to us, but that’s not our style, you know? So we have something that we really need to be concerned about because what they’re planning — the coup, essentially that they’re planning — it’s not going to be the coup that they tried to pull off on January 6th of 2021. They are trying, through the way that they are hoping to rig elections, count the elections, et cetera, et cetera, to do all the things that they accused Democrats and Biden of doing. Every time they do that, they’re just signaling what they’re going to do or what they’re going to try to do. And so we need to really be thinking about what are we going to do about this? What are we going to do? It won’t be easy. Whatever it is.
Michael Moore [00:07:28] But I want to talk about this today, and I have a special guest coming on here in a few minutes. She’s written a great book entitled “Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood.” It’s very powerful. Her name is Dr. Michele Goodwin. She’s an award-winning author, law professor out at U.C. Irvine. She’s an Executive Committee Member of the National ACLU American Civil Liberties Union. She was awarded the 2022 Margaret Brent Award from the American Bar Association. This award, if you don’t know what it is, it’s given to those who carry forward the legacy of Margaret Brent. And who was Margaret Brent? The first female lawyer in the United States of America. And Dr. Goodwin has been a tireless advocate and activist for reproductive justice. And she’s going to be my guest today here on Rumble. And we’re going to have an important discussion about what to do. So Dr. Goodwin will be here with us.
Michael Moore [00:08:32] But before we speak to her first off, a huge thank you to Wondrium. They are now supporting this podcast and supporting my voice. And what I like about Wondrium is — if you knew me personally, I’ve never stop learning. And I think a lot of you are the same way too. Right? We’re curious people. We like to ask questions. We’re critical thinkers. And Wondrium is this new thing that I love. It’s a subscription video service that supports lifelong learners like you, and I. Wondrium has everything from tutorials to documentaries. It’s got courses on hundreds of topics and I mean, just the scope of the subjects. If you go on their site and see what they have, whatever subject that you’ve been curious about — oh, here’s an example actually, I just thought of this. A couple of weeks ago, one of my favorite all-time poets, Lawrence Ferlinghetti — he’s one of the beat poets — he would have been 102 this month. And so I started thinking about him. And on Wondrium, like, literally that day or the day after, up popped a documentary called “The Source: The Story of the Beats.” It’s like, wow. And this documentary, it wove together a lot of great archival footage of the great beat poets. I’m talking about, you know, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs actually seeing these beat poets you might have heard about, but you’ve never seen them read their poetry, and I got to see that on Wondrium. So, trust me, I know that you will love this. I know you love Wondrium as much as I do. I want you to sign up now through my special URL. It’ll be on my platform page. I’ll give it to you right now and you could start a free trial. It’s such a rich reservoir of so much knowledge and information. Do this now. You go to Wondrium.com/rumble. Easy, right? Wondirum.com/rumble. So don’t wait. Get your learning on today, my friends, with Wondrium. Wondrium.com/rumble. Thank you very much, Wondrium, for supporting my voice here.
Michael Moore [00:10:39] And one other underwriter we have for today and again, we’ve had them before and I want to thank them again for supporting us. They’re called Moink. And what is Moink? Well, this is what I wrote up. This is my gut feeling about this. We all know that big agriculture is one of the leading sources of pollution on this planet, right? We all know this now. And given the choice, for those who do eat meat, we’d all choose to probably help support the small family farms, right? Those who are fighting to survive against the behemoth that is big agriculture. But the truth is, when you go to the grocery store, you don’t always have that choice. Moink gives you back your power to choose for yourself, and for your family, both the quality and the source of your food. It’s essentially a meat subscription service that will deliver meat, you know, whatever you like. But it’s going to be grass-fed and grass finished beef, lamb, pork, chicken raised in pastures and sustainable. They even have wild-caught Alaskan salmon. And they can deliver all this direct to your door. All of it sourced from family farms. And the best part? When you order from Moink, you will know that the animals were raised in the outdoors, on grass. No growth hormones. No antibiotics. No confinement to cages and buildings, and sketchy growing practices. And the fish actually swim wild in the sea. So stop giving any more of your money to the big guys. I know some of you don’t eat meat, but I’m talking to, let’s face it, the vast majority of people that still do. And I think most of the people who listen to this podcast would be glad to know that they’re not giving their money to these wealthy farming corporations and to people who don’t give a damn about any of this stuff. Let’s keep American family farming going by signing up at MoinkBox.com/rumble. And right now listeners of this show will also get a free filet mignon in every order for a year. One year of the best filet mignon that you’ll ever taste, but it’s only for a limited time at MoinkBox.com/rumble. Thank you, Moink, for supporting me here at Rumble and for helping my voice to be heard.
Michael Moore [00:13:19] And we are back. So, Dr. Michele Bratcher Goodwin holds the Chancellor’s Professorship at the University of California, Irvine, and is the founder and director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy and its Reproductive Justice Initiative. She is also the award-winning author published in The New York Times, L.A. Times, Politico. Incredible op-eds and essays and writings. And her most recent book is “Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood.” There are many books written about the subjects and issues we’re talking about here today but this is, I think, one of the most profound things I’ve read in many, many years, and I encourage everyone to read it. Dr. Goodwin is also the host of her own podcast for Ms. Magazine called “On the Issues with Michele Goodwin.” Before we begin with Dr. Goodwin, I just want to read you a little piece from an essay that she wrote for The New York Times back around Thanksgiving weekend. This past November, I opened up the Times, and this was the headline of the essay by Dr. Goodwin — “I Was Raped By My Father. An Abortion Saved My Life.” And it was hard to get through at the time, and it was hard even earlier today as I was prepping for this podcast to read it again. Here’s a portion of it. This is Dr. Goodwin speaking. “It was the early morning of my 10th birthday the first time that I was raped by my father. It would not be the last. The shock was so severe that I temporarily went blind before I began the fifth grade a few weeks later. By the time the school year began, my father had taken me to see a battery of doctors and a medical explanation by these doctors would paper over the fact that the trauma caused by his sexual violence had caused my body to shut down. The physiological suffering that I endured included severe migraines, hair loss, even gray hair at 10 years old. While other girls may have longed for puberty, I loathed the idea of it. My body became a vessel that was not mine. It had been taken from me. I lived in fear of the night, and the footsteps outside my bedroom door.” Dr. Goodwin goes on to explain how her closet became her sanctuary to hide. And unless you think that her father was just some ne’er do well, drunk, whatever, taking advantage of his daughter, she goes on in the next paragraph to state, “my father’s predations were hidden behind wealth, social status, and his acting the part of a committed and attentive parent. I attended elite schools in New York City. I studied ballet at a renowned academy, took private violin and tennis lessons. My father never missed a parent teacher conference. However, that veneer of normalcy belied intimate family violence that began years before with his physical abuse of my mother. At times, he was so violent that she was hospitalized. And at age 12, I was pregnant by him and I had an abortion.” And he was able then — I’m just going to just skip ahead here — to convince the doctor that this 12-year-old had gotten pregnant by her being fast and loose with a reckless boyfriend. The doctor just bought it. And so she’s sitting there, she explains, with these two men looking at her in this shameful way and years later thinking back upon that. She talks about not just that moment, but what grew to mean to her as she was a teenager and then became an adult. I’m really honored to have with us here today on Rumble, Dr. Michele Goodwin. Dr. Goodwin, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for writing that essay. And thank you for writing this book — “Policing the Womb.” It is the nonfiction version, in some sense, of A Handmaid’s Tale. Thank you for what you’ve done, and thank you for being here.
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:17:53] Thank you very much for lifting up these important issues and bringing them to your audience.
Michael Moore [00:17:59] Well, we have to because I get the sense that we are just months, maybe weeks away from our new Supreme Court, one third appointed by Donald Trump, of declaring that the government is going to say what women can do with their reproductive organs, with their bodies, and that Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that essentially made it legal for women to be able to choose whether or not they wanted to have a baby, that that is possibly going to be overturned or restructured in some other way to the point where women are going to lose this right. Do I have that right or am I?
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:18:37] No. You’re right. So the case before the United States Supreme Court comes out of Mississippi. It’s the Dobbs case, and it’s a case that involves a 15-week abortion ban that provides no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. This is a modern feature of the anti-abortion campaigning, something that we wouldn’t have seen a decade ago. We wouldn’t have seen five years ago. We wouldn’t have seen pre-Trump. Now, the state with this new composition on the Supreme Court has sought not only its 15-week abortion ban because of the current composition of the court, it has asked the court to do away with Roe v. Wade altogether.
Michael Moore [00:19:23] Is that going to happen?
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:19:25] Many people are saying that we should prepare for that to happen because the Supreme Court has a very vocal majority that has articulated both in terms of personal leanings and also prior adjudication that they have no sympathy towards Roe v. Wade or reproductive rights generally. And Chief Justice John Roberts, who very recently has been siding with liberals on the court, his vote no longer matters to that five justice majority that has shown a lack of regard for Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v Casey, and the various laws that have protected reproductive rights.
Michael Moore [00:20:09] Is there a chance that one of those five will have an epiphany before June and the court won’t get rid of Roe v. Wade?
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:20:18] This is a really good question. Over time, there are those of us who’ve said that it’s been a death by a thousand strikes. This kind of movement that we saw speed up come 2010. So between 2010 and 2013, there were more anti-abortion, anti contraception laws that were proposed and enacted than the 30 years prior combined. And the important point to note there is that this was with the rise of the Tea Party. And it’s important to understand that this movement is not only one that seeks to trample and seeks to get rid of, if you will, reproductive rights. But this is a movement that is also behind voter suppression, gerrymandering — all of that. It’s all a part of a narrative of a kind of America of Jim Crow, an America that was, you know, pre-13th Amendment, is what these people have the taste for. And to put that in context, Roe v. Wade was a 1973 opinion, and the votes in that case were 7 to 2. Five of those seven justices were Republican appointed.
Michael Moore [00:21:29] Wasn’t the opinion, the actual opinion itself, written by one of the Republican-appointed?
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:21:34] That’s right. You’re absolutely right, Michael. By Justice Blackman, who was put on the court by Richard Nixon.
Michael Moore [00:21:40] Right, right.
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:21:42] The father of George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, was the treasurer of Planned Parenthood. So what we see these days that parades itself as Republican, it’s important to note that it is not the kind of traditional Republican values. This is more of a kind of Tea Party mixed with evangelism that is not part of the Republican tradition that at least was the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s. But as part of this very mean-spirited wave that we’ve seen, which is not too distant from seeing children being locked in cages and having the federal government argue against providing them soap and toothpaste.
Michael Moore [00:22:30] For the people who are listening to this, what can they do? What can we all do between now and, let’s say, when they release their judgment here in June, maybe July, maybe May. It’s not far off here.
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:22:42] No.
Michael Moore [00:22:46] We’re still in the middle of the war in Ukraine, and so many things, and I think that there’s a lack of focus among people that maybe we should be talking about this more and maybe we should get ready. And what, if anything, can we do to encourage the court to do the right thing?
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:23:02] So there are a number of things to do right now. One happens to be supporting funds, abortion funds that help people to be able to have the means to go out-of-state and get the health care services that they need. Because it’s important that people remember that there are people who need abortions to save their lives, to manage miscarriages and of course, to remember that it is a constitutionally protected right. It’s important at the state level to contact state legislators in states where there are trigger laws that may go into effect, such that if the Supreme Court upholds the Mississippi law, then there are over two dozen states that have ready-to-go similar laws. And it’s important that in those states, they understand that voters are opposed to those kinds of laws. And then I think that they really need to be prepared for what I call the new Jane Crow, which is newer forms of surveillance, of policing, of criminalizing women and girls as they seek reproductive health care. And this may have nothing to do with abortion. I mean, the kind of policing of people who want to carry pregnancies to term, but who maybe used marijuana to calm their nerves before labor, or used a Valium to calm their nerves before labor, the policing of those women. Because we’ve already begun to see those kind of arrests taking place, these are just simply not safe times for anybody who has the potential to become pregnant in the United States. And it’s not just then the policing one has to be concerned in these states that would seek to coerce people into taking pregnancies to term that the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. These states are the most dangerous places in the developed world to even be pregnant. So there’s a lot to pay attention to in these spaces.
Michael Moore [00:24:59] Something you just said that people may be questioning, “what does she mean by that? That the United States has got the highest maternal mortality rate?” You’re talking about women who die in childbirth.
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:25:07] That’s right.
Michael Moore [00:25:08] You go to the Third World and a mother giving birth in Turkmenistan has a greater chance of surviving giving birth than a mother in Cleveland —
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:25:17] That’s right.
Michael Moore [00:25:17] — than a mother in Oakland, California.
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:25:19] That’s absolutely right.
Michael Moore [00:25:20] Yes, and it’s stunning to look at the data.
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:25:23] Yes. You know, our rates of death are closer to Saudi Arabia than they are to England. I mean, we rank between 50th and 54th in the world in terms of maternal mortality, meaning that it’s more dangerous to carry a pregnancy to term in the United States because of risk of death than it is in Bosnia, former war-torn country that experienced genocide. And when we look at the data, black women are three and a half times more likely nationally to die than their white counterparts carrying a pregnancy to term. And this is not because black women have faulty genes or things like that, right? It is not that. It is systems of implicit and explicit bias in the delivery of health care. But when we drill down even more closely in the states that have enacted the most draconian types of abortion bans, we see that black women are ten times more likely than their white counterparts to die in some of those counties, 15 times more likely than their white counterparts to die in those counties. And so we have to keep that in mind when we hear this rhetoric about we care about women and we’re enacting these laws because we care about pregnant women or because we care about the babies in these very states that refuse to expand Medicaid coverage, that refuse to provide adequate care for people who are on assistance or who are receiving food stamps. I mean, this is a real kind of harsh cruelty that is life-and-death for many women who were coerced in states like Texas and Mississippi and Alabama to carry pregnancies to term that they do not want.
Michael Moore [00:27:04] This has forced birth.
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:27:07] It is.
Michael Moore [00:27:08] It is. And that’s why I referenced earlier A Handmaid’s Tale, which is where the women who are chosen, who are still fertile, are held down first while being raped by the commanders, and then held down and forced to give birth to carry that pregnancy to term and then forced birth. And coupled with what we just were talking about, the only way I can figure out how to call this, what we just described about the maternal mortality rate — certainly more so among black and brown women — is that this is death by motherhood.
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:27:45] Well, it is. That’s not an exaggeration.
Michael Moore [00:27:48] I know I’m trying to find a different way to say it, but I’m just…
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:27:51] I think that part of the struggle, Michael, with finding the right words is that this is staring us in the face and it’s dumbfounding. Right? People who are elected to protect, to serve the people of their state and community, and that they would show such disregard for the women, for the girls, for the people in their state who have the capacity for pregnancy is just mind-boggling. It is so absolutely cruel. And let me help to set the stage a little bit more with data that we know. A person is 14 times more likely to die by carrying a pregnancy to term. The World Health Organization for decades has deemed an abortion as safe as a penicillin shot. We know that pregnancy isn’t that. You know, no matter how passionate one is about their anti-abortion stance, we will never get over the fact that a pregnancy can be dangerous, and is dangerous. And this data that we have that stares us in the face in the United States that you would think in any other context, if we knew that a person was 14 times more likely to die by the state, pushing its hand and forcing them to do that well, we would see intervention from Congress. We’d see intervention from the Supreme Court. We’d say, “No, you can’t do that. You just simply can’t put people to a death sentence.” And that is essentially what it is when one has that kind of data and the state says we’re going to force the hand in this domain. Now it’s one thing for a person to say I want to be pregnant and I want to have multiple kids. I’m a mom, you know, I mean, and I wanted to be a mom, but that was really my decision to take that on when I did, and I happily took that on. But I fear and I grieve for the women in the state of Texas, or those who already are in the state of Mississippi, where there is only one abortion clinic that remains. And I have interviewed staff at that clinic. And here’s what I can tell you. There are people who show up with machine guns outside of that clinic. They show up with bullhorns. They take down people’s license plate numbers. The clinic regularly receives threats. Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, this has not been a peaceful movement, despite what Senator Marsha Blackburn mentioned in the confirmation hearings of Judge Jackson. Instead, what we know is that over the last 50 years, there have been nearly 50 bombings of clinics that perform this constitutionally permissible service. There have been mass shootings and killings of doctors. There has been arson. There have been threats made on people’s lives and the lives of their family members, and that this continues. And I think that’s also an important part of this narrative as well. There’s this kind of backdrop that this is about peace, it’s about love, and it’s about protecting life. It’s hard to see that in the wake of so much carnage and death caused by people who in any other context, we would say would be terrorist. Or a movement that has been bounded in terrorism. I mean, if we said that there is a movement that identifies itself associated with the bombings of 50 clinics, we’d say that’s terrorism. If you name a specific group and you said that that was carried out about ‘X’ group that happened to be nonwhite, we would say, well, that’s terrorism. And it is within this space that we have to begin to articulate and name just what it is that doctors, nurses, clinic staff, patients, their friends and family members have had to endure just by exercising a constitutional right.
Michael Moore [00:32:00] Then we need to really just start calling it what it is. I’m just so afraid of what the court may do here. And if they do, I mean, if they just get rid of Roe v. Wade entirely. I can’t imagine, and I say this to what one comedian refers to as “men of my own gender.” I say to them, “can you imagine that there would be a law or something that would prohibit us just because we’re men to do anything, to do anything with our bodies, with our whatever?” We would never tolerate, first of all, such a law. It would never exist. But the fact that we think that we can impose this on the majority gender — that’s right, women are 51-52% of the population and the majority gender. Where the minority, ‘us,’ men, and when I say ‘us,’ I’m talking about, as I point out often, 75% of Congress is still made up of men. Men hold the vast majority of CEO positions in the Fortune 500. You go down any —
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:32:59] That’s right, it’s disparate power.
Michael Moore [00:33:01] Yes, any piece of our society men have their hands on the steering wheel and the throttle of power. And imagine a world where the majority gender had the power and they said to us that you can’t do ‘X’ with your reproductive organs — I mean, just saying it out loud —
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:33:26] Well, actually there’s a Supreme Court case that addresses that, to your point, Michael, and it’s one that has in some ways fallen away but there is Supreme Court precedent. So in 1942, there was a case called Skinner v. Oklahoma. The State of Oklahoma had enacted a law that provided for the castration/sterilization of people who are petty criminals. It was targeted at men. And the person who became the subject of this law sued because the law applied only to people who were petty thieves and he had stolen a chicken, but it did not apply to people who committed white collar crimes — and that was explicitly written within the law. When the Supreme Court reviewed the case, the Supreme Court was adamant about how this case, how the law itself represented the worst of lawmaking, and that the law was not only unconstitutional, but the law itself was a violation of human rights and human dignity, and that such a law should never be enacted and would never be upheld in the United States. I mean, it’s a very strong case, and it’s actually a case that, you know, is 30 years prior to Roe v. Wade and really sets the stage for reproductive privacy, autonomy and so forth. And it comes in that case. So to your point about there being a very rigorous defense of male autonomy with regard to reproductive health and rights, there it is. In 1942 in a case that remains good law where the Supreme Court very clearly, very clearly says that laws like this shall not be upheld. And you know, there are ways in which I liken the times that we’re in to the draft, right? And Congress got rid of the draft. We understand that the state cannot push one to put its body in harm’s way — even for the sake of defending the nation. You cannot be coerced to do that, right? Or forced to do that by the state. The draft is over and done. We pay people if they want to fight on behalf of the United States because we understand that the state cannot have control of people’s bodies, and that people deserve their own autonomy and privacy with regard to their bodies — especially when it is something that can threaten their health and safety. And I see that as an analogy here, except that it’s one in which the state says we will draft, you know, women and girls’ bodies and people have the capacity to be pregnant we’ll draft your bodies into this service that you don’t want, and we will pay no attention essentially if you die in the literal labor of that. And that, I think, is what is so disheartening for people who realize what’s really at risk and what’s really at stake with laws such as those being enacted today.
Michael Moore [00:36:28] That’s a great analogy. Comparing it to the draft. Because that’s exactly what it is — that if you get pregnant, we as a society, we, the United States government will declare you drafted into motherhood. You will give birth, you will birth that child, even if it’s against your will. That’s going to be the new law of the land. Here’s what I’m afraid of with this Mississippi case that we started talking about at the beginning. I’m afraid that possibly… They may not have the strong five that they need to go all-out and all-in on taking away women’s reproductive rights, but what if they come back and say, “OK, yeah, we don’t like Roe v. Wade and abortion, blah blah blah. But we cannot force a teenager, a child, an adult woman to give birth after they’ve been the victim of rape or incest.” And so they come up with a new law that says abortion is illegal with the exception of rape and incest. I want to say to them, “You don’t really believe that. You don’t believe it’s a human being. You don’t believe any of that.” What is it really about them? Michelle, what is behind this passion? Because I don’t think it’s any of the things that they say.
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:37:48] Well, I think that a lot of it has to do with power and control. It’s just like cases of rape where the justification is, you know, “I do it out of love, you know, I love her so much. I’m so sorry. I beat my wife because I just get blinded by love.” No. These are really expressions of control, and of power. And when we try to seek some logic out of it other than that, it becomes deeply confusing. If you look at the arc of how this plays out, not just in this moment, but across a kind of historical arc of politics associated with reproduction in this country, you see it, right? So the earliest vestiges of it were laws that were enacted when there were just colonies — after colonizing lands that were, you know, indigenous lands — with laws that protected white men after the raping of black women. Those laws where matrilinity laws and basically what that means is that the children born of enslaved women would take on the status of their mothers. Well, so there we have one of our first reproductive rights kinds of laws that explicitly protects white men in cases of rape, and they don’t have to worry about their offspring being able to claim that they are their fathers and therefore elevate themselves out of the confines and bowels of slavery. And there are a number of other laws that were similar to that out of the colonies, very earliest laws in the 1600s in the United States. We could fast forward a few centuries, and we see at the turn of the 20th century, the strong appetite that the United States had for eugenics, upholding a law that provided for the compulsory sterilization of people who are considered to be unfit. Now that was just a proxy for your poor and your white. And we believe at the turn of the century in the early, you know, in the early 1900s that the United States can be a country that practices whiteness and white supremacy. That’s really what the law was about — but of a particular kind of whiteness. There was this thought that the United States could cleanse itself from poor white people. Carrie Buck herself had been a poor white girl, 16-years-old, had been raped, had a baby out of wedlock. The state of Virginia rounded her up and her mom for, you know, coercive sterilization. And Carrie’s case was a test case before the United States Supreme Court. The person who represented her was a eugenicist himself. And so it was really about, “let’s go and get this done before the United States Supreme Court, such that other states can pass these eugenics laws.” And the United States Supreme Court upheld this Virginia law, and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “three generations of imbeciles are enough.” He said that “better than to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.” And he closed out the decision that said that the power that the state has to impose inoculation is broad enough to cover cutting the fallopian tubes. After this, thousands of poor white women, and girls as young as 10 and 11 years old, were coercively sterilized. And then Germany literally, directly borrowed the language of the Virginia law, imposing its own eugenics law in Nazi Germany, and U.S. lawmaker said that “the Nazis are beating us at our own game. Speed it up.”.
Michael Moore [00:41:25] Wow.
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:41:25] How do you make sense of that? You know, so we’ve seen these waves, and none of it is consistent, but what we do know is that all of it has been about power and control, and it has been the power and control over people who are vulnerable, and people whose civil rights and civil liberties have been trampled over time. Poor people. People of color. This has been part of a thread that has really never been broken, Michael, in so many ways.
Michael Moore [00:41:59] Is there nothing we can do before the next month or so to try to put pressure on the Supreme Court?
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:42:07] I don’t believe that there’s, you know, a time where it’s ever nothing that we can do. And I do believe that, you know, all across the country, in states like Missouri and Oklahoma, where the governor has just signed a law saying that abortions are banned there and in Texas and Mississippi and Georgia, and in all of those states, people can support voting rights because it’s also the case that in these states, there are legislators who are seeking to basically gerrymander their way into keeping those seats that they have, and suppressing voting rights. And the way in which folks across the country who care about these issues will be able to center these issues, is through electing people that will fully represent all of the people in those states, and not simply just, you know, sort of see these patterns, as you mentioned, of white men being reelected and holding on these kind of monopolies, if you will, of power. And I want to be clear here, this is not an attack on white males. But the reality is that as you mentioned, the overwhelming majority of people who hold power in Congress happen to be white men. In Texas, overwhelmingly, that Legislature happens to be white male comprised. And it is not because there aren’t people seeking to run for office in those states that are women. It is true, though, that voter suppression efforts have made it very difficult for people to be able to win campaigns. And so I would say voting is central to all of this, and supporting people who are running for office who care about these issues — and that includes a lot of white guys as well who are trying to fight back against these kinds of laws.
Michael Moore [00:44:00] So if we do lose, and they get rid of, or most of, Roe v. Wade, you mentioned earlier that there is something we can do because they probably won’t take away a state’s right to decide whether or not a state wants to make abortion legal. And before Roe v. Wade, as I recall, having lived in that era as a teenager, it was legal to get an abortion in California. It was legal in New York, and a couple of other places and I’ve told the story here on the podcast before about when I was in high school and a friend of mine, she got pregnant. And she and her boyfriend and myself, as you know, 17-year-olds were trying to figure out how to get to Buffalo so that she could get an abortion. And she couldn’t get to Buffalo. She didn’t have a way. She couldn’t afford it. She ended up in what is referred to as a back-alley abortion in Detroit and nearly died, ended up in the hospital. And for us, at 16 or 17 years old, it was quite a traumatic —
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:45:03] I’m sure that was a traumatic and horrific type of an experience.
Michael Moore [00:45:05] Awful, obviously for her because she had to go through it.
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:45:09] It’s a traumatic experience. But I also say, Michael, that in Congress there’s been the effort to codify Roe v. Wade —
Michael Moore [00:45:16] And when you say codify, you mean in other words, if Congress, if we actually had a law that said that this is legal…
[00:45:23] That’s right.
[00:45:24] That’s why the Supreme Court has this wiggle room to step in and essentially make the law, or get rid of the law, or whatever — because our own Congress hasn’t had the courage to do the right thing. So where is that at? Is there a bill? Is there something people can support?
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:45:41] That’s the Women’s Health Protection Act. It would certainly be a start. It has actually passed through the House of Representatives, but the votes haven’t been in the Senate yet. And so that’s another place for people to let their lawmakers know that they want the Women’s Health Protection Act to be enacted and passed. And basically what that would be is that there would be a federal law that would protect the right to be able to terminate a pregnancy and to be able to have an abortion. The legislation has had the most support ever. There have been several years in which there has been an effort to try to get this legislation passed. And this is an urgent time for getting this enacted, and one could say, you know, why not after 1973? And I think it easily could have passed after 1973, but it is worth noting that I think that, you know, after Roe v. Wade, there wasn’t this thought that we would be in 2022 seeing what we see right now.
Michael Moore [00:46:40] Yeah, yeah, there’s a part of your book, I think it’s in Chapter 10, where you talk about how we need a Reproductive Bill of Rights or a Reproductive New Deal.
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:46:54] Yes.
Michael Moore [00:46:54] This is such an amazing, forward-thinking idea. Would you explain this to the people listening?
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:47:00] So, I proposed a Reproductive Justice New Deal in the book, and the reason why I do is that we stand on this precipice right now where there are high rates of maternal mortality, infant mortality, sex education has been gutted from our schools. The U.S. has not only the highest rates of maternal mortality of the developed world, but it also has the highest rates of infant mortality, it has the highest rates of teen pregnancy, and it has the highest rates of teens who have contracted sexually transmitted diseases, which we now understand and know cause cancers later in life that cause death. These are alarming and glaring statistics that we get from state and federal data. This is not something that people on the left are making up. This is from data that is generated in each state. And so given this, this is a time to protect through federal law, through the Constitution, reproductive health — and it’s important to understand this as beyond just abortion. One of the points that is important for me, and that is made through this book, is that we understand that the attacks that we see now within the space of reproductive health, happens to be on everything, right? It’s the surveillance and the criminalization of people who are carrying pregnancies to term, but not doing so perfectly. In some states you see women have been arrested for falling down steps while pregnant, threatened with arrests for refusing C-section, and arrested for refusing C-section and prosecuted. We’ve seen cases of women being prosecuted for attempting suicide during pregnancy. There are more than 30 states that have enacted what are called pregnancy exclusion laws, which deny pregnant women the ability to control what happens to them at death, such as do not resuscitate orders. States just take that away if you happen to be pregnant. I mean, it’s across all of this space where the alarm bells should be ringing. And so I propose this Reproductive Justice New Deal to help reset that, so that we protect this space so that people can make sound, independent judgments, and be protected from civil incursion and criminal charges for what they do during the space of pregnancy and before.
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:49:33] Right, right. Have you discussed this with any lawmakers, or what kind of movement could be started to support something like this — and how sad that we even need to do that?
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:49:44] Well, I think the people who are part of your listening audience can be part of articulating this at the state level and also at the federal level because we can have Reproductive Justice New Deals at state level as well as at the federal level. And we see some of that in the state of California with the efforts to make California a sanctuary state and even protect people who are coming from out-of-town to be able to have the reproductive health care that they need with dignity and compassion. And so this is where the rubber really meets the road and needs it for everybody. I think it’s a shame, Michael, when we could have in the 1970s young people knowing and growing up having a better sense about their bodies, about what a pregnancy is, and how people become pregnant. And in 2022, it’s gutted from schools, or there’s abstinence-only teaching. And in those red states where that is occurring, the higher rate of teen pregnancies. It doesn’t work. And can I say something about what that represents?
Michael Moore [00:50:51] Yes.
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:50:54] What we know through empirical studies is that when a person, when a girl has had a pregnancy and birth before 18, only two percent of those girls will even have graduated from college by the time that they are 30. It really sets your life on a particular course that makes it even harder to be able to reach that American dream — when you have no idea about your body, become pregnant because you didn’t think that, you know, what sex is creates pregnancies. And then in those states where it’s difficult for you to be able to then terminate a pregnancy, chances are that by 30 you will not have graduated from college. And then chances are you’re going to be in a low wage job as well. And it’s going to be intergenerational cycles of poverty that are a part of that. And this is what we know. This is what the data shows us. And so the way for us to be able to interrupt that, at the very least, is to be able to inform kids, young people at age appropriate stages and especially in high school, about what sex is, and about their bodies. It is a part of biology and the fact that kids in high school will learn about the biology of frogs and pigs and toads and everything else and not themselves is absolutely absurdist. And we are the only country in the developed world that’s doing that.
Michael Moore [00:52:29] I know. I know friends in other countries — they shake their heads, they laugh. They do not understand us. I want to ask you something before we go about the essay that I read at the beginning of this that you wrote for the New York Times. And how powerful it was, and how devastating, and how hard it was to get through reading it. That’s just the reading of it. You lived it. I think the way that we would think, those who haven’t had to experience this, would just think, “Well, that would be the end of me. My life would be over.” And yet, I have also seen so many people — victims of incredible cruelty, violence, discrimination, et cetera, et cetera — not only, in a sense, won out over it, but went on to have a good life, and a life that made the world a better place. And you are such a prime example of doing this. And maybe it’s just naive on my part to even ask but how did you get to that place? And if you don’t mind, just for the people who are listening, and for those who maybe have gone through their own terror and their own trauma, could you talk about that — how even in the worst of situations, that there’s possibly a way out?
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:53:47] It’s a very good question, and I think that the framing about the people who are listening, who are wondering about how they make a way out. I want to first acknowledge the tremendous pain and devastation that one goes through, not just on the individual level, but how this is internalized — we’re thinking about other family members. For people who are victims of abuse, who survive abuse, worry about how other family members will cope with them coming out about their abuse. So it’s multiple layers of fear, and of trauma, and of shaming and guilt that can come about for one who’s seeking to just break the ties, and to be able to seek some independence and support. So I want to express that there is light, there can be light, at the other end, and that one can find wholeness and find happiness and love and support from people that you make your family, and maybe even from some people who are biologically connected to you. But I would say that the first thing to do is to galvanize oneself. I left home at the age of 15. At the age of 12, I began thinking about, “Well, what does it take to be independent? What does it take to take care of yourself?” I began thinking about that because the trauma was so significant and so severe. And you know, there is a will to survive that is endemic in all of us. And I had that will to survive. And at 12, I was thinking, just what in the world does it take because it was so painful what I was experiencing. And by the time that I was 15, I was just through with it all. And with a plane ticket and $10 in my pocket, I left home. And I know that that’s not something that a lot of people feel that they can do. But I will say that there is light at the end of the tunnel. And I think being able to confide — finding the people that you can confide in — makes a difference. And then beginning to chart one’s way of leaving abuse. And I don’t want to make that seem simple. I know that it’s not. I know what that’s like from having watched my mother be abused by my father. So I know that those things are not easy. And I know from my own personal experience that it’s not easy. And I know that even after people leave traumatic, abusive circumstances, they can be haunted by that abuse, and it can follow them in the form of nightmares. Every night it can. But I will say, you know, the first is finding our own redemption within to be able to recognize our own humanity, our own dignity, and our own worth. And that’s an important step within carrying out what comes next — communicating with others, leaving that dangerous situation and more. And I would strongly suggest that we include information at the end of this podcast about where people can get help.
Michael Moore [00:57:16] We will do that. And in anyone who’s listening, who needs that help. If you’re a teenager right now and a lot of young people listen to this, there are adults who will help you out, and who will help you find the way out.
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:57:29] And you are not alone.
Michael Moore [00:57:30] You are not alone.
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:57:32] I think that that’s also really important as well, Michael. With the way in which domestic violence takes place, and sexual abuse, is that people who are abusers isolate people that they abuse, such that it’s possible to feel as if you’re the only one who’s experiencing this trauma by the person abusing you, and such that you feel really isolated from the rest of your community and the rest of the world — but you really aren’t alone. And as part of writing the piece that I did in the New York Times is that I really felt the need to express this for the sake of so many others who suffered as I did, who experienced what I did, and the importance that the people who are legislating in this domain, the people who are judges, the everyday folk who you feel as if these are stories that they’ve not heard and they don’t know people who are affected by this, I figured that I could stand such that they could understand this is what that kind of pain looks like. And it’s possible to make one’s way out, but it’s not easy and there are lots of traps along the way.
Michael Moore [00:58:47] Well, you got out and you went on to do some wonderful things for all of us, and I’m grateful for that. I encourage people to read your book. It’s so powerful. The link is here on my podcast page where you can go to get Michelle’s book. It’s called Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood. Thank you for writing this. And thank you for the inspiration to all of us. We all know that we’ve got our work cut out for us here in the next few months, and then after that, to make sure abortion is legal in as many states as possible. Whatever support we all can give to that, we, I think, have a moral responsibility to do that. Dr. Michelle Goodwin, thank you so much for coming on my podcast. Thank you for having a podcast yourself. I encourage people to listen to it. We’re all in this together.
Dr. Michele Goodwin [00:59:40] Thank you for having me on your show.
Michael Moore [00:59:41] It means a lot. Well, that’s it for today. Here on Rumble, my thanks to our executive producer, Basel Hamdan, the producer and editor of this wonderful episode, Angela Vargos and everyone here on the Rumble team — Nick Kwas, Donald Borenstein, and all who have helped me out over the past two years with Rumble. Much, much appreciation. And most of all, thanks to all of you who listen and who share this with your friends, family, neighbors. I will sign off now. I’m Michael Moore and this is Rumble.