I’ve read a few stories the past few days that are horrific. They make me sick to my stomach and want to cry. They also force me to conclude that there is not only a war against women (not that I was a doubter) but also that there is true disdain for being a poor woman.
I wonder if the right, the so-called conservatives or family-values brigade, realizes how contradictory its positions are. Don’t have sex until marriage (the 1900s called and they want their values back), but if you do and get pregnant, you better keep it. If you are pregnant, that 8-celled embryo has more rights than you, but don’t expect us to help if the child you dutifully birth needs Head Start to prepare for school. If you expect to get government assistance (AKA welfare) to subsist, you have to work; where and in what conditions you put those kids we begged you to have isn’t our concern.
Sure, I’m likely generalizing quite a bit and being a bit inflammatory, but honestly, I’m shocked and appalled at what is going on in this country lately when it comes to reproductive rights and then the lack of policies to help care for children from the self-named “family values party.”
Look, people are going to have sex. They’ve had sex for hundreds of millions of years, and your declaration that sex outside of marriage (a fairly recent invention) is immoral isn’t making a difference. Women want to have sex responsibly and be in charge of their own reproductive outcomes and seek contraception, yet there is a war on that. Women get pregnant (because they didn’t have access to contraception) and decide to seek a legal (remember that fact?) abortion. Unfortunately, for lower income women, it may be difficult to obtain one in the legally-allowed time frame due to cost. As a result, they may have to seek one at type like Gosnell’s. Do you think a woman wants to have a partial-birth abortion? Do you really think a woman wakes up one day and says, “you know, I’m tired of this whole pregnancy thing. Think I’ll get a partial-birth abortion.” The woman who settles on a place like this clinic is desperate and poor. She can’t afford earlier procedures or better conditions and puts her life in the hands of this so-called doctor. It’s NOT a whim.
Let’s say the woman decides to have the baby and parent it. That’s wonderful, right? Except for the fact that she will need to work to support her family and/or obtain any government assistance. She has to do something with the child, right? Decent, regulated child care can be difficult to obtain at best and unaffordable at worst. Do you think this mother wants to leave her beloved child in a situation that might cause unease? That might seem unsafe? Daycare is expensive. Good daycare is VERY expensive. How can you demand a mother work to receive any assistance, yet make it impossible for her to find decent care for her child? And then when tragedy happens, you cluck that this is what happens when mothers enter the workforce, conveniently ignoring the fact that you have contributed to this Scylla and Charybdis.
You might be wondering what dog I have in this fight. I admit that I am privileged. I own it. Jimmy and I are fortunate to be able to afford the best daycare for our son and any other services he might need. We have the ability to shop around and evaluate excellent facilities according to our whims. I’ve never worried how we were going to support our family. Never worried about the toll an extra mouth to feed might take. Never had to fight for any type of contraception (and I write that with great irony given my particular conditions). Hell, we were able to pay a lot of money to have a baby. Conservatives, we are your people! Except for the fact that I loathe injustice. I loathe children not being able to get a fair shake in life. I loathe children being placed in unsafe conditions due to a lack of government intervention. I loathe women being treated as lower-class citizens. I loathe feeling like my gender is denied intelligence in some political circles. And I also loathe being told what to do with my own body. And overall, I loathe unfairness.
I wonder what it says about a country that values upholding the right of its citizens to own guns–even guns that could almost be weapons of mass destruction–over valuing and caring for its youngest citizens. As Cohn’s article points out, government subsidy of childcare could have huge returns as far as reduced prison, health and special education costs and increased economic contributions. To me, it seems a no-brainer. What am I missing?
After Newtown, I lost a friend on Twitter after I tweeted that the Republicans cared more about embryos and potential than actual children since they were reluctant to enact gun control measures. I understand she was offended, but I stand by that sentiment, and nothing I have read has altered my stance.
The explanation often given is to let the free market decide. Capitalism will decide. I don’t think so. When I was in high school and learning about different types of economic systems, my teacher pointed out that capitalism without restraints can be very harsh. Capitalism is the “honey badger” of economic systems. Unsafe conditions or too-low wages? Capitalism don’t care. Read The Jungle and then tell me government intervention is unnecessary. The programs FDR put in place and similar social programs were necessary to blunt the sharpness of Capitalism. Yet too many politicians seek to dismantle them. Why care for the elderly? Why allow our citizens to feel like their country rewards them for any service? Hell, just let us die and then bulldoze over us to build the next monstrosity to profit (for a few!) Capitalism demands.
I’m mad. I’m angry. I’m furious that anyone, let alone any woman, any mother, regardless of financial status has to justify any decision she makes. Has to jump through hoops to make pertinent decisions for herself, her body and her children or future children. Has to believe she has no other option than to go to a cut-rate abortion provider who doesn’t even clean up after prior procedures. Has to put her precious child in a situation that feels not quite right in order to earn money.
We live in the richest, most free country in the world, yet we’re content to let religion and dogma prevent us from doing what is ethical and what is right. Am I wrong to be bothered by that?