There seem to have been a lot of misogynistic bills being introduced (and passed) lately. As a woman, as an infertile, as a babylost mamma, as an American citizen, it scares me.
I probably can't say it as well as Keiko at Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed with this post: Um, why does the government hate women so much? (please stop over there before or after this post!) Or the countless others who are standing up, but let me explain why these changes mean so much to ME.
Here's the recent proposed bill from Georgia Rep. Bobby Franklin. It essentially is a "personhood" law, but it also says that miscarriages must be reported to the government. Why? So they can investigate them to see if it was a miscarriage or homicide. Yes, he wants to create a uterus police. They would issue fetal death certificates, complete an investigation if no known cause was found for the loss. Umm, hello. My name is S- and I've had three unexplained miscarriages. Does that mean I'm a suspect in a triple homicide now? Seriously? As part of their investigation they could talk to your family, friends, doctors, etc... to try and determine if their was foul play involved.
I am shitting you not.
I highly doubt that Bobby Franklin has ever had close contact with a women who has had a miscarriage. And he himself sure as hell never went through one. But who cares, right? It's not like they're not traumatic enough as it is. It's not like we don't already blame ourselves enough for it. Nope, let's throw an investigation into the works. I mean surely every single one of the women who experience a miscarriage (25% of ALL pregnancies) will just take that laying down. Let's drag their families into this, even though most people don't even tell anyone their pregnant until the second trimester (and most miscarriages happen before, let's think about this...) But, yeah, let's criminalize the victim... yeah good one, Mr. Franklin.
The reality of it is that this bill would never get though because of financial costs itself. You'd need your own department to handle that many miscarriages. I mean the numbers would be astronomical! There's just no way! At least that's what I keep telling myself. I keep talking myself off the ledge because I don't think people are that stupid. That they wouldn't waste our tax dollars in this way.
But then I see similar "personhood" bills in Iowa, North Dakota, Oklahoma. That's not all, see Montana and Texas.*
And that's when I get really scared.
See, while the North Dakota bill is a little better defined the others are not. North Dakota allows parameters for handling ectopics, for when the life of the mother is threatened, IVF, for ending a pregnancy to pursue chemotherapy. But it doesn't say about if you have a medical condition and get pregnant knowing the pregnancy is at risk. It doesn't allow a clause for that, am I at fault then if the pregnancy ends? Did I commit prenatal manslaughter or homicide? These laws are a lot more tricky than you may think at first glance.
Iowa and Oklahoma have none of those clauses. They says that a person is a person at the moment of conception. Therefore they have equal right as us. Let's stop and reflect... how would that affect IVF? How would that affect FETs? When we discard embryos, or decide not to use them, are we negligent? If an embryologists fails to successfully unthaw all embryos are they guilty of manslaughter? If we have medical conditions with increased chance of miscarriage, are we at fault when the otherwise healthy appearing embryo doesn't make it? Should all miscarriages be investigated since that embryo/fetus was a person? I'm not talking about investigated by your doctor, I mean by the government. And what if your answers aren't satisfactory? Do you deserve 5 years to life because your baby died?
Let's really think about what these laws mean. I understand that their intent is to prevent abortion, but that is not the only issue at stake here. This isn't a simple pro-life or pro-choice issue. This affects me. You. My sister. My mother. My husband. My best friend. My neighbors. This affects us all. It is masked under heavy pro-life agenda, but whether they realize it or not it is a much larger picture.
Iowa already passed a law punishing reckless behavior that may harm your embryo/fetus. How do we define that? I understand their intent, do not get me wrong, the story it stemmed from is sad. But this law is dangerous. How do we define reckless behavior? I did not have a complete loss panel done before getting pregnant, was that reckless of me? I got pregnant with PCOS, was that reckless? If I drank a glass of wine before knowing I was pregnant, would that be considered reckless? What about smokers, or people taking medications for other illnesses and the medicine shouldn't be taken in pregnancy? What about women engaging in intense physical sports and it causes a loss? Where do we draw the line, how do we define this? And most importantly, should they have a right to investigate our miscarriages to make sure they weren't intentional? Should we really be victimized further? Because that bill could allow this.
Then I see that Planned Parenthood is about to lose all it's funding. Say what you will about Planned Parenthood, but they were there for me when I was low income and uninsured. They provided me with my PAPs and breast exams free of charge. They game me an unofficial diagnosis for my PCOS, and started me on birth control pills so I would have cycles again. Before that I was scared, so very scared, because I wasn't pregnant but I hadn't had a cycle in months... 7 months to be exact. Our local office got ran out a long time ago, I had to drive an hour but I couldn't afford a regular gynecologists office. They wanted $300 just for my yearly exam... I was a full time newly married college student. I could not afford that. But I couldn't afford not to with my family history of cervical cancer and breast cancer. The office I went to didn't have an actual gynecologist because of lack of funding, so I saw a NP. I think I could have gotten an official diagnosis if I could have seen a real doctor much sooner. But she was nice to me, and she had PCOS herself, told me I had all the signs, prescribed me birth control and warned me about waiting so long for a cycle and the risk of endometrial cancer. She also told me about my decreased chance at pregnancy.
Planned Parenthood was there for me. The government funding doesn't go towards abortions, it goes to their family planning services: birth control, STD testing, PAPs, breast exams, women and men's health services. They do so much good! And it saddens me that politicians want to take that away from the American people. I'm sorry, but our local free community health clinic doesn't offer these services. The women in my community have to drive half and hour to an hour away to get to a Planned Parenthood. And soon they won't even have that.
Why are women under attack? Why are our basic rights to health care and our own civil rights under fire? Why are so many states, and even the federal government, focusing on these issues? Why are they trying to sneak these bills under the rug without us noticing?
Guess what? I've noticed. And I'm bringing it to your attention.
Be vigilant. Speak out. Take a stand.
*Information obtained from http://www.resolve.org/resources/the-center-for-infertility-justice.html