By Kate Sim ’14
Texas turned down $35 million in federal funds for Medicaid Women’s Health Program. This means that at least 300,000 low-income and uninsured women in Texas will have no or greatly-reduced access to basic reproductive health care. A proposed bill in Arizona requires women to prove to their employers that they need birth control in order to treat a medical condition if they want their prescription to be covered by their insurer. Today, women pay 50% more than men for the very same health coverage. Being a woman is not a pre-existing condition.
These proposed bills have real-life effects. Last week, an article written by Soraya Chemaly from The Huffington Post recounts many unbelievable ways women’s lives are affected by the “personhood movement”:
“Ms. Rowland was charged with murder after one of her twins was stillborn, allegedly as a result of her decision not to have cesarean surgery two weeks earlier. Yes, you can be imprisoned like Bei Bei Shuai, a woman living in Indiana who attempted suicide while pregnant (committing suicide is not a crime, by the way). Friends managed to save her, and although Ms. Shuai did everything she could, including undergoing cesarean surgery, her newborn died shortly after birth. She was arrested and charged with murder and attempted feticide and locked up without bail. (A Free Bei Bei petition was recently launched on Change.org.) Your 11-year old daughter, if raped and pregnant as a result, would be forced to carry the pregnancy to term or face criminal charges. I don’t have the time or space here to go into what happens to a pregnant woman who is already incarcerated. Consider Amanda Kimbrough, a woman struggling with meth addiction, convicted of chemical endangerment under a statute making it illegal to bring a child into a meth lab. She is only one of more than 40 women in that state alone imprisoned for substance abuse while pregnant. The salient aspect of their persecution is not their drug use, it is their pregnancies.”
Personhood USA defines “personhood” as “the cultural and legal recognition of the equal and unalienable rights of human beings.” But, as stories of Melissa Ann Rowland, Bei Bei Shuai, and Amanda Kimbrough show, the equal and unalienable rights of mothers, daughters, and sisters are in jeopardy. From unwanted cesarean sections and murder charges to transvaginal ultrasound probing and employer permission to use birth control. Enough is enough. This has got to end.
When women are likened to farm animals and caterpillars, we cannot wait for lawmakers to come to their senses. We have to act now. On April 28th, women and men across the country will unite for reproductive justice. Unite Against the War on Women is a national grassroots movement happening in the capitals of all 50 states across the country on the same day. The goal is to show the legislators that we will not stand by and let them pass laws that limit and restrict the lives of women in this country. We have a voice and we are going to use it to put an end to body policing. Here in Massachusetts, the demonstration will take place at Boston City Hall at 10am on April 28–I hope to see you there. Meanwhile, here are a few things you can do:
- Call your state legislators
- Publicize the rally: distribute posters and fact sheets in your community.
- Educate: organize a forum on women’s health
- Donate to organizations that support women’s reproductive freedom, such as Unite Women and Planned Parenthood.
- Join the movement: bring at least 10 people to the rally. Here is the official MA demonstration event page.
We need to act now. See you on April 28.
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