There are a few things that scare me in this world. Cockroaches are probably number one on that list. Second, would have to be rides that spin, for example, my arch nemesis the ” Zipper” or those dastardly teacups in Disneyworld.
One of the few sources of pride I have when it comes to the Zipper is that I managed not to hurl on the ride itself. Also if you’re not familiar with the Zipper and its craziness, you can read this wikipedia post that I stole the picture from.
Anyway, back to the whole point of this post.
Recently, my newest fear has been the increasing government involvement in the sexual and reproductive health of women. It seems that the newest trend is to end funding for basic women’s health services, and to change definitions of feticide, rape, and where life begins in order to achieve these goals.
So I’ll say 2011 was a year filled with controversy in the field of women’s health, and much of this can be linked the health care reform that passed in 2010. However, I decided to trace this a little bit further back just to show that this interference isn’t exactly a new concept. If I wanted I could go all the way back to 1965, but for your sake of reading my babbling I’ll only go back to 2007.
In 2007, there was a proposed bill about requiring all school entrants to receive the HPV vaccine, almost half of the states and D.C. were on board with the concept, but it was later shot down mostly due to criticism about interference with abstinence only education (1). Nonetheless, in August of 2008, as part of 1996 law, immigrant women were required to receive the HPV vaccine (2). Something only recommended by the CDC for American women (and almost put into law a year earlier by Congress), but required for immigrant women. The vaccines long-term effects were yet to be studied and many women’s groups felt immigrant women were being used as experiments, and not to mention that this vaccine is quite costly. Thankfully this situation was rectified in December of 2009, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services realized the discriminatory nature of the law it had put into effect, and repealed this portion of the law (3).
Another strike towards women’s health came in 2008, shortly after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, when Representative John Labruzzo of Louisiana (my home state) suggested introducing a bill that would pay $1,000 to women on welfare to receive sterilization. He even included the idea of providing tax incentives for college educated/higher income women to have more children (4). If you’re attempting to stop generational welfare I think there’s more ethical and less discriminatory laws that can be put into place. Sadly 2008 wasn’t the only year that Rep. Labruzzo had a misguided attempt to bring about change in women’s health. In April of 2011, Rep. Labruzzo submitted a bill that would change the definition of feticide, and give doctors who performed abortions a 15 year sentence of hard labor (5). I didn’t even know hard labor was a punishment option anymore, after all this is not the Soviet Union last time I checked.
The last part of 2011 and early 2012 has been an all out war against women’s health. We saw the personhood or more simply put the “Egg as a Person” law as it was called in Mississippi get defeated (6). However, a law very similar to this has passed the house in Virginia, and could quite possibly be voted into law. In addition, the Texas law that requires women to receive vaginal probe ultrasounds, so they can see and hear the heartbeat of fetus has been upheld after months in court (7). This decision has lead other states such as Ohio, Minnesota, and Virginia to introduce similar acts in their respective states. It seems these lawmakers don’t consider the extra time off work and appointment expenses that women will have incur in order to jump through the hoops they are attempting to set up to stop abortions.
Currently, we have the debate over insurance coverage of birth control in regards to religiously affiliated institutions, and even though Obama administration has introduced a compromise some religious groups do not believe it goes far enough (8). I could write even more, but I’m attempting to keep this post concise. All in all, I think our lawmakers need to focus their strengths on something else such as creating jobs and fixing our economy instead of attacking and manipulating the steps women have to go through to access basic health care.