Conservatives have a lot to consider. I’m sure the idea of overturning Roe v Wade has you chomping at the bit and why wouldn’t it, this has been on your to do list for decades. You’ve been ticking off a lot of boxes since Trump became POTUS. This is all fantastic news unless you happen to be female. Hear me out.
I respect the Pro Life stance…at least in theory. From the surface it looks like the high moral ground, truly it does. Don’t kill your offspring sounds like a reasonable rally cry. The only problem is that the conservative movement may be killing women. Like so many other issues impacted by health and socioeconomic conditions, it kills women of color more frequently.
How you ask? Well thank you for asking…accessibility to reproductive healthcare is one of the reasons. All that fuss over Planned Parenthood caused them to withdraw from Title X. They left $260 million federal dollars on the table because they refused to comply with the gag rule implemented by the Trump administration. The gag rule basically is this – you can have Title X federal dollars as long as you do not refer patients for abortions. Fun fact, sometimes abortions are medically necessary to preserve the life of the mother.
So if you are a female who relies on Planned Parenthood for affordable reproductive services, you’re kind of screwed (and not the fun way of screwed that makes this a relevant conversation). I think of all the women who have limited resources trying to make the best choices they can regarding their health – exams, birth control, cancer screenings – many of these women can no longer afford the sliding scale prices of PP because the scale slid too far for their limited means. As a prior client of PP I can tell you I never had an abortion – never contemplated one because I had access to affordable birth control.
Will the women that can’t get screening services now get some divine intervention which will prohibit them from getting ovarian or breast cancer? Um, no. It will just be harder if not impossible for them to get screened. They will have to chose between a screening or birth control because they can not afford both.
These policies will create more unwanted pregnancies. Which gender is more impacted by unwanted pregnancies? Which gender has their career side lined by unwanted pregnancies? Which gender is more likely to encounter domestic violence during pregnancy? Honestly there are so many life long consequences of unwanted pregnancies and women bear the brunt of it, always.
And while I am capable of having a conversation regarding Pro Life/Pro Choice, I can’t entertain the anti-birth control conversation. That is too much of a personal invasion, too much control handed over to mostly men for “religious” purposes (or perhaps just trying to control the female gender). This is a hill I may be willing to die on for the next generation.
Another fun fact, for a developed country, America has a staggeringly high maternal mortality rate. In 2018 our national maternal mortality rate was 17.4 (that’s the number of deaths out of 100,000 live births). The rate for non-Hispanic black women was 37.1 (yup, more than double the national rate). Don’t take my word for it you can read about it here – https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/maternal-mortality/index.htm
Maternal mortality rate really needs to be considered in all matters related to female reproductive rights. I state this as someone who has survived two high risk pregnancies. At 39 weeks pregnant with my first child it was discovered that I had a Deep Vein Thrombosis (they claim about 9% of maternal moralities), access to life saving procedures is why I am alive today. When I became pregnant again we knew it was high risk. Once again I had access and resources needed to mitigate my risk….what if I didn’t have that access? Should women without access to life saving procedures (in my case it was an IVC filter used to break up blood clots) be forced to have a full term pregnancy? It is not my place to tell another woman how to handle that situation especially if her life is on the line. To be clear, I don’t think it’s your place either and that is why I am Pro Choice.
I’m not suggesting that the conservative movement is solely responsible for the increase in maternal mortality, there are many factors to consider. Data collection for maternal death has increased in recent years so that has identified more cases. The disparity in healthcare access along with our inability and/or unwillingness to address that shows up everywhere in our woefully inadequate American healthcare system. What I am stating is that more women will die from pregnancy/birth related complications if we continue the trend of limiting access to reproductive health services.
When does the mother’s life matter as much as the unborn child?