Know what's even scarier than stumbling into a Walgreens at 3 am and witnessing a woman dressed as Miley Cyrus puking on a guy dressed up as Jesse Pinkman as a muzakal rendition of Silent Night plays over the loudspeaker? What conservatives in the government are doing — and have done — to low income women this week. Between the Fifth Circuit's disappointing ruling to overturn a lower court's injunction against Texas's garbage bag of an anti-abortion law, to a scheduled cut to food stamps that will affect millions of low-income people to a court ruling that allows a business owner's religious beliefs to dictate his employees' health care decisions, America's sent a clear message to poor women this week: fuck you.
First, the freshest shitsmear in a week of bad news: a US Circuit Court in DC just ruled today that two Catholic owners of a business have the right to refuse to cover contraception for their female employees because Catholics believe that birth control is made of invisible baby smashing hammers and that's reason enough to deny women access to birth control with their employer-provided compensation. In the words of the ruling,
...it is clear the government has failed to demonstrate how such a right—whether described as noninterference, privacy, or autonomy—can extend to the compelled subsidization of a woman’s procreative practices.
Basically, it's the government's right to compel employers to provide health benefits that subsidize every choice employees make — the choice to step out into traffic and get hit by a car, the choice to eat shitty food for decades and require triple bypass surgery, the choice to lead an inactive lifestyle and develop type II diabetes, the choice to smoke and get lung cancer and, hell, the choice to have children who may themselves dare make the mistake of choosing to do something like stick a Monopoly piece up their little noses and require a trip to the ER to have it removed — but not for the government to compel employers to provide health benefits that subsidize a woman's choice to have sex without getting pregnant. Pregnancy? Fine. Pleasurable, non procreative sex? Not fine! Got it, DC Circuit Court.
Next, let's move on to what just happened with Texas, because it's about time someone messed with it. Earlier this week, a federal judge ruled that part of HB2, aka that law that Wendy Davis filibustered aka the law that would effectively close 1/3 of the abortion clinics in the state, had no clear connection to promoting women's health and therefore must not go into effect. In response, the state's Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial hopeful Greg Abbott (who does not have a uterus) filed an emergency appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans. Last night — HALLOWEEN NIGHT — the notoriously batty judges of that court did something truly scary: they overturned the federal judge's injunction, which means that the Texas law will go into effect, and 1/3 of the clinics will be closed. To summarize the disappointment of NARAL and other pro-choice organizations, this means a whole lot of the state's most vulnerable women will be forced to travel for days to have abortions. If they can afford to travel at all.
Arguably the cruelest part of the Texas law is the part that bans abortions after 20 weeks. Anti-abortion advocates paint a picture of a late term ban as something humane and sensible — fetuses can feel pain, they argue, based on thin scientific evidence, and therefore women should be forced to make their decisions about pregnancy before this happens. But many serious birth defects can't be detected by sonograms until the 20th week of pregnancy, which means that couples who find their baby, if born alive, would live a short life characterized by intense suffering must either travel a great distance to do the humane thing or watch their babies die terribly.
For more on what happens when "pro life" states do the "humane" thing, check out Irin Carmon's latest at MSNBC, on Oklahoma's "pro life" culture and how it nearly bankrupted one couple, who was forced to travel for hours and wait days before terminating a wanted pregnancy with a life-threatening birth defect. The couple Carmon profiled ended up in thousands of dollars in debt because Medicaid wouldn't cover the woman's abortion. To add a layer of charm to a terribly sad story, Carmon interviewed a few conservative, pro life state lawmakers, one of whom referred to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as "the black" justice and another who recounted how horrible it was to witness his girlfriend's back alley abortion back in the early 1970's and didn't seem to understand how his personal votes were pushing Oklahoma back in that direction. The cognitive dissonance is strong in these guys. Unfortunately, their fairy tale-based belief systems are ruining real lives.
Finally, this food stamps business, brought to you by the same people who believe that every fetus deserves a chance — nay, an enforced — existence who must also believe, with the same brain, that once fetuses become babies, they don't deserve food because every woman's placenta is filled with money to use to buy baby formula. An increase in SNAP benefits that was built into the 2009 stimulus bill ends today, and 48 million Americans will be affected.
Unsurprisingly, that number includes more than a few single parent households, which are overwhelmingly headed by women. Here's just one of their heartbreaking stories, again from MSNBC,
Amira Watson, a working single mother of four from Brooklyn, recently had to sign up for food stamps after her marriage ended and she lost one of the two jobs she was working after having to take maternity leave.
Though she applied a few months ago, her approval won't take effect until Nov. 1 — the same day the cuts are slated to kick in.
A medical assistant working nights at an assisted living facility for the disabled, Watson worries that the SNAP benefits won't be enough to feed her four kids, who range in age from three months to 15.
"The job is good with medical benefits but not with the paycheck," she said. "I'm always in the hole with bills. If I pay the rent I'm sacrificing the light, if I pay the light bill I'm sacrificing the gas bill. It's always something."
PRO LIFE! Where the response to everything a woman could possibly choose to do with her reproductive life is "fuck you." I don't want to get pregnant! Fuck you. I don't want to carry this pregnancy to term! Fuck you. I got pregnant and carried the pregnancy to term, and now I have a child! Triple fuck you.
But, you might say, playing devil's advocate/asshole, but if you can't afford to take care of them, then why have four kids? Hm, let me think. Does anything exist that would help low income women exert more control over family planning? Gosh, the answer's at the tip of my tongue.
(For the answer, please begin reading the second paragraph of this piece again, until you reach the end. Then cycle back to the beginning again, until your displeasure with the judicial and legislative branches of government has formed a tornado of rage.)
Have a great weekend.