My first two blog posts were about birth choice, and my next two were about politics which may seem like random subjects to start off with, but here is where I tie it all together.
As I stated before, I am passionate about women’s health. An acquaintance of mine asked me about work a couple of weeks ago and as I was telling her about my weekend on call she interrupted me and said, “You know, you light up when you talk about your job.” I can’t think of a better compliment; yes, I LOVE what I do.
And so, we come to the issue that has been sticking in my craw, the recent attempts to legislate women’s healthcare, specifically reproductive choice and the relationship between women and their healthcare providers. I don’t think any picture sums it up better than the cover of the April Issue of The Texas Observer.
Of course, Texas is not the only place where this is happening. State by state, legislatures are taking it upon themselves to pass laws stripping women’s rights of autonomy in making certain healthcare decisions, interfering with doctor/client privacy and, in the case of Arizona, trying to force women who take birth control pills to prove to their employer that they are taking it for reasons other than birth control if they want it covered by insurance. Because that’s what we all want to do, march into our boss’s office and talk about our sex lives (or lack thereof), our bad acne, our heavy irregular periods, or our polycystic ovarian disease. (As it stands, the Arizona law only applies to religious non-profits. Thankfully, the bill that would have expanded that exemption to all employers was voted down last week, probably due to the public pressure generated by social media.)
The commentary I have seen in the news surrounding these laws is absolutely disrespectful of women, comparing them to farm animals (Georgia State Representative Terry England), dismissing the invasiveness of a vaginal probe ultrasound (A Virginia Lawmaker who said that a woman had already consented to vaginal penetration by having sex so a vaginal probe shouldn’t be a big deal.), and probably my favorite comment, that in the good old days, all a woman needed for birth control was to hold an aspirin between her knees. (Foster Friess, a Rick Santorum supporter). Wow. What year is this again?
So hell yes, I’m uppity. I’m not a primary healthcare provider yet, but as an aspiring one, I feel a protectiveness towards all women who have to make decisions about abortion and birth control for reasons I may not even begin to comprehend. It’s not my place to judge anyone else’s decisions; I get to make decisions for myself and that’s it. Can I offer an opinion? Sure, if asked. Can I offer support and information? Absolutely. Can I walk in someone else’s shoes? No, not really, so I don’t get to tell them how to live their reproductive lives. And neither do you. And neither should the government.
I have the nerve to believe that women have the same rights of medical autonomy as men, and that together with their healthcare providers they are capable of understanding the risks and benefits of any intervention without some politician’s input. I have the nerve to believe that the men and women who are degreed and licensed to be healthcare providers know a hell of a lot more than legislators do about what constitutes medical need and informed consent. And I have the nerve to be outraged at anyone who makes access to legal interventions in healthcare harder on women. But then again, I also have a sneaking suspicion that there are lots and lots of people out there who feel the same way I do. Their voices have already made a difference in Arizona, Virginia and Oklahoma, and for that I am profoundly grateful.
- 7 Most Offensive Things Men Have Said About Women’s Reproductive Rights This Year (blisstree.com)
- A few words on the contraception/women’s- health debate (cloudcuckoolander.wordpress.com)