It seems like every week, I run across something in the news while browsing the interwebs that causes me to metaphorically slam on the brakes and scream, “WTF?!?” And then, in total Friends-esque incredulity, repeat, “Really? Really?” Then I comtemplate, very seriously, moving to France, for about five minutes. Then I sigh. Then I continue working, because having a job these days is a luxury in the good ol’ US of A.
Sometimes I post whatever new flavor of ridiculousness I’ve found to Facebook, and sometimes I don’t. I’m never fully satisfied by the limited and superficial discourse afforded by social media around important issues, and on the whole, I’ve found my Facebook comrades to be bizarrely brainwashed by party line issues, more than willing to jump on the newest [insert party here] bandwagon, because either Fox News or Mother Jones told them to. Important issues do exist, like…sexism and misogyny. Like the legislation of female reproduction. Like slut-shaming and the shockingly dangerous agenda of fundamentalist Christian groups. Like wage inequality and sex trafficking. Like all of those things that make me both incredibly grateful to be an educated, employed woman, and fearful that I may never see a female president of the United States of America in my lifetime, and that my future daughters may never live in a world where being a woman isn’t only not a weakness, but an advantage.
So, if you haven’t guessed it already, I self-identify as a feminist. I don’t think it’s a dirty word, and I don’t really care what you think. But, it seems like there’s something odd going on, when groups like Americans United for Life are actually succcessful in setting women back about six decades in the name of “protection,” and their model legislation looks shockingly similar to policy that seems to be cropping up all across the country. Because, you see, the AUL really believes that when we women find ourselves all knocked up, we don’t really know what we’re getting ourselves into when we decide that terminating the pregnancy is really what’s best for our current socioeconomic/family/emotional/mental/spiritual situation. They think that being made to look that unborn fetus in its embryotic face before having the procedure is critical to saving our
souls lives, lest we have a change of heart and bring another unwanted child into the world to become let down by, and then forgotten by, an incredibly broken system.
WAIT. I’m mistaken.
The mandatory ultrasound legislation recently signed by Virgina’s governor Bob McDonnell (who to my knowledge, has never carried a child to term), is described by the AUL as a life-saving measure that might prevent a woman with an ectopic pregnancy from dying after being given “life-ending” drugs. Nevermind that ecoptic pregnancies constitute just around 1% of all American pregnancies each year, or that an even larger number of women die each year from unsafe abortions. You know, the kind of abortion a woman living at or just above (or hell, well above) the poverty line in Virgina might end up with if she also (likely) happens to be one of the 100 million uninsured Americans (read: 1 in 3) who just wouldn’t have the cash to seek out a completely medically unneccsssary procedure that’s legally required for her to have a safe abortion.
(Un)Ironically, Virgnia made the groundbreaking discovery that there’s a correlation between educational attainment and wealth, and that poverty in their state has been steadily increasing since 2006. Rather than legislating around education and employment, they’ve seen fit to ensure that fewer women lacking the economic resources to raise a child to adulthood have viable alternatives. And meanwhile, back at the proverbial ranch, the alternatives are shrinking, because God forbid the government mandate that insurers pay for birth control as a preventative service to ensure that women have the ability to plan their lives and families based on their readiness and willingness to raise a human being. Because of, um, separation of church and state…I mean…ummm. Because of some Reason. That has nothing to do with pushing a pro-life agenda.
Other gems you can thank the AUL for in the future (coming to a legislature near you!), include:
- “The Planned Parenthood Joint Resolution”: not surprisingly, aims to defund Planned Parenthood. “Fetus Personhood,” could make contraceptives illegal, and might open miscarriages to investigation. In other words, “you have no rights,” and “despite the fact that you’ve experienced one of the worst tragedies you might bear as a woman, we’ll make your life even more of a living hell.”
- The “Abortion Patients’ Enhanced Safety Act”: This would require that facilities that perform five or more first trimester abortions per month, or any second- or third-trimester abortions to be licensed as “ambulatory surgical clinics.” Of course, in order to do this, they would have to renew their license annually, and perform other services at a significant investment. Naturally, the logic here is, make it cost-prohibitive to perform abortions, and there will be fewer people performing abortions (reference unsafe abortion statistic above).
- And of course, my personal favorite: “The Parental Involvement Enhancement Act”: This one aims to protect sexually-abused children, by requiring that any minor (under the age of 18…hello, high school), be required to inform their parents and get consent before the procdure can be performed (which happens fairly frequently now). There’s a catch, however: both the parent and minor child must sign a release stating that they both understand that the prcedure will “result in the death of her unborn child.” So if your parents are meth-addled losers, tough luck. You’ll need to find their gypsy caravan first, and then you’ll have to pay to have the form notarized.
But this of course, is a much bigger issue. Like, why are all of these women having so much sex? Women who can’t afford contraceptives like hormonal birth control pills are sluts, in case you hadn’t heard, which I’m sure you have, because the (deserved) general outrage around Rush Limbaugh’s latest misguided attempt at
disgusting misogyny humor has been headline news for the last week (not that you’ll be able to get the full bit now, since his radio transcripts containing the hate speech have magically disappeared from his website). These women are also prostitutes, because in the event that the government pays for their birth control prescription (don’t even get me started on the Cost of Health Care), they’re effectually being paid to have sex, so naturally, and the government is their pimp. This one is particularly frustrating, because the situation that his comments were in direct response to should have never occurred, because there’s no sane reason why any Georgetown law student should ever be discussing the cost of birth control with congressional policymakers, ever, ever, ever. Not when the unemployment rate for women is virtually unchanged, or when women are only making 78% of what their male counterparts are making (You’d think with all that extra cash, more men could afford condoms. It isn’t so. Apparently.). Not when the same lobbyist groups who are successully creating barriers to a woman’s right to make decisions for her own body and well-being are also successfully defunding the very organizations that make affordable contraception available. NOT. EVER.
In other news, there’s a glimmer of hope for us women. There are actually women in public office who believe the fairer sex are intelligent, rational beings, who are quite capable of making logical decisions for themselves, contrary to popular legislative opinion. Women who are willing to take risky positions against the Old Boys’ Club, with satirical, and quite frankly, equal legislation, that puts a vasectomy on par with a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy without unneccesary and costly medical roadblocks.
In Ohio, Nina Turner (D-Cleveland), introduced a bill this week that would require doctors to take certain measures before prescribing drugs like Viagra to treat sexual impotence, such as performing cardiac stress tests and referring patients to a sex therapist to ensure that symptoms are physical, and not psychological.
In Delaware, Wilmington’s City Council (the largest city in Biden’s home state) passed a resolution (by an 8-4 vote) calling for the recongition of sperm “personhood.” In our
backward fair state of Virginia, Sen. Janet Howell proposed legislation that would mandate rectal exams and cardiac stress tests for any potential male recipients of erectile dysfunction medication. In Georgia (love to the Southeast), Rep. Yasmin Neal wrote this beautiful piece of legislation, including that, “(b) No vasectomy is authorized or shall be performed in violation of this Code section. In determining whether a vasectomy is necessary, no regard shall be made to the desire of a man to father children, to his economic situation, to his age, to the number of children he is currently responsible for, or to any danger to his wife or partner in the event a child is conceived. A vasectomy may only be performed to avert the death of the man or avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the man.”
Sounds about right, to my female brain. Separate…but equal?
In Missouri, similarly equal policy-making—vasectomies are only allowed if it saves the man from death or serious bodily harm. And of course, my favorite, from the fine state of Texas: Rep. Harold Dutton served up 3 fine amendments, including one that requires the state to pay the college tuition of children born to women who chainge their mind about abortion after seeing an ultrasound image (it’s called “personal responsibility,” ya’ll). The second would have subsidized healthcare for those children until age 18. And then age 6. None of it passed.
All in all, it looks like the joke is still on us.
Good news: only 8 more years until we get to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of our man-given right to vote. Perhaps we should have a real coup, and elect a female head of state. What a riot that would cause.