A few weeks ago, my childbearing years ended.
Due to a surgical procedure which stopped the dangerous uterine hemorrhaging I experienced every month, I would have been at great risk for tubal pregnancy which would be life threatening for me and would not have resulted in a viable fetus.
So I chose to have a tubal ligation while the surgeon was “already in there”.
At nearly 50 years old with my ovaries showing no signs of giving up any time soon, this was a great relief. As my friend Joan told me almost 20 years ago, “It really sucks to be 47 years old and still worrying about birth control.” She had already raised her children and was in a different phase of her life.
I know other women who have had to go through similar or much more invasive surgeries for the same reasons, for whom losing the ability to have children is the loss of a dream, a tragedy.
We are all different, with different wants, needs and life circumstances. This is why we need choice.
This got me thinking about the still controversial Row versus Wade decision in 1973.
I was only ten years old at the time and it was several more years before reproductive rights and issues would be of concern to me.
I never had to worry about access to birth control or women’s health care. I never had to fear that I would be forced to carry a rapists child to term nor risk my own life should an accidental pregnancy be deemed dangerous to me.
Thankfully, with the availability of birth control, I never had to worry about any of that.
Had birth control failed, I had a choice.
I realized how blessed I was to have never lived with those fears, nor other horrors older less fortunate women had described to me.
I was ready to raise a glass and toast the fact that it was all over.
Until the current war on women escalated.
First, it was the Susan G Komen Foundation, under pressure from Anti-Choice groups and their own Vice President with an agenda, cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of womens preventive health care to uninsured, poor and undeserved women.
They didn’t fool anyone with their cries that it wasn’t political and have now hired a PR firm to assess the damage they did to their organization. So you guessed it, your donations to “the cure” (which is roughly 18-21% of what they raise with their high profile events depending on which reports you read) will be going to the high priced consultants they had to hire to get themselves out of this mess.
Immediately on the heels of that attack, the Catholic church began directing their obscene wealth and power to join with the GOP party to lobby not only to allow Catholic hospitals and universities deny birth control coverage to women, but to allow any employer who thinks birth control is immoral to do so.
Not only would the nursing student who works long hours at St Joe’s hospital saving lives not have the same right to decide when to start her family as a nurse working at Tacoma General, but the college student working at Taco Bell to get through school could be denied birth control coverage if the owner of that franchise didn’t believe in it.
I have heard Catholics say, “Well, they just shouldn’t work at a Catholic owned business if they want birth control.” What about the women who work where the only hospital in town is a Catholic hospital?
It’s not religious persecution to require that a business follow the same laws as every other business. Hospitals, clinics and universities are highly profitable businesses. If the Catholic Church does not want to obey the law, then they should get out of those business and stick to being a church. For that matter, perhaps they should spend the ostentatiously displayed wealth they are directing into politics and use it for the charitable work they claim is so important to them.
While all of this is going on, conservative states are attempting to redefine “person hood” as the moment of conception which leads to a very slippery slope as a miscarriage could be investigated and punished as murder should the woman have done something deemed by white conservative males as dangerous like going for a run or hiking.
You best just stay barefoot and in the kitchen young missy, lest you get yourself in trouble.
The supreme court in Washington State just ruled that a pharmacist can refuse to provide legally prescribed medications on “moral grounds”. This is in direct response to a mandate that they must provide “Plan B” emergency contraception (which is not an “abortion pill”).
So if a woman is raped or the condom breaks and she doesn’t have a choice of pharmacies in her rural area, she can’t get the medication she needs in the very short time frame required.
This is another slippery slope. Suppose the only pharmacist in town doesn’t think that any woman should be on birth control? Suppose they think that those who have HIV/AIDS are being punished by god and should not receive their life saving drugs?
If pharmacists don’t want to follow the rules/regulations/laws that apply their well paid profession, perhaps they should find a different line of work that allows them to “speak for god”.
Even more vile, the Commonwealth of Virgina actually tired to pass a bill requiring that any woman seeking an abortion submit to a trans vaginal ultrasound in order to bully and intimidate them in to not having the procedure.
Rather than the ultrasound most are familiar with where a sensor is moved across the abdomen, this requires that a rather phallic shaped object be inserted into the vagina.
This procedure can range from mildly uncomfortable to painful. I should know, I’ve had two of them which were used to help diagnose tumors in my uterus and ovaries. Of course, it was my choice to allow it to be done for my own health.
I can’t imagine how traumatic it would be for a rape or abuse victim to be vaginally penetrated in this manner, especially in an already frightening time.
Even in Virginia, vaginal penetration against a woman’s will is legally defined as rape.
And just to top off this latest rash of attacks on women’s rights, the GOP in the State of Wisconsin voted to end the protection for race and gender in the Wisconsin Equal Pay Enforcement Act.
After reading all of this over the last few weeks, I can not in good conscience celebrate the end of my reproductive years with the rights of sisters, nieces, daughters and granddaughters in such jeopardy.
Not since the 1960s has the fight for women’s rights been so volatile and so important.
The war against women isn’t over ladies; it’s only beginning and we are on the front lines; if not for ourselves, then for our daughters and their daughters.