Democrats Must Be Willing to Say "Abortion"
Years of avoidance has led us to where we are today
Welcome back Chaise Lounge readers and hello to our newest subscribers! What a couple of weeks it’s been since we last published. As you might imagine, we will be looking at some of the issues that the draft Supreme Court opinion brings up. But first, let’s take a look at some other news of interest!
The Name Game Goes On
Last week’s newsletter focused on the issues that arise when a person changes their name with a focus on voting rights. In the meantime, I came across a couple of articles this week that focused on the ways that we name our children. In the first article, a mother writes about the myriad conversations she has to have because her children bear her surname instead of her husband’s. Of course, it is no one else’s business, but when you buck patriarchal norms, people seem to feel free to question your choices. The second article shares the news that Italy is about to ban the automatic use of the father’s surname for newborns. According to an NPR article,
“The new practice will allow both parents to assign their child's surname in an order they agree upon. If both parents decide to bestow a single surname to the child, that's OK as well.”
I didn’t have Italy becoming less patriarchal on my bingo card, but I approve!
Why hasn’t the federal government done something about the baby formula shortage?
As I write this, the Senate is voting on the Women’s Health Protection Act which would codify abortion rights. And while I am in full support of making people go on the record, we know this vote will fail. But the sad irony is that those who pretend to care about babies are ignoring a serious problem that American parents are facing right now. There is a national baby formula shortage affecting families today. This opinion piece from the Washington Post suggests that the President invoke the Defense Production Act to get more formula flowing. It is a complicated problem exacerbated by the fact that Abbott holds over 40% of the market and their product was tainted and killed two babies, causing the shortage. But there just doesn’t seem to be any urgency from the feds.
And now for some good news
Activision and EEOC reach $18 million settlement
On March 29 of this year, a judge signed an $18 million settlement between the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission(EEOC) and Activision Blizzard over charges of sexual harassment and discrimination. The video gaming business had a reputation as a “frat boy culture” where female employees had to put up with men taking over the lactation rooms set aside for women to pump breast milk, listen to male co-workers talk about sexual acts and jokes about rape, and be reprimanded for leaving briefly to pick up children while male co-workers played video games much of the day. Complainants can opt into the settlement money by completing paperwork with the EEOC.
State legislature approves $125K pilot program for SANE nurses
The North Carolina state legislature approved $125K to fund a pilot program to train nurses at Fayetteville State University(FSU) in procedures to become sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE). Reporting by Carolina Public Press last year demonstrated the shortage of SANE nurses across the state, especially in rural areas. FSU is a historically Black university, and this is important because, for victims of color, it is rare that they get a SANE nurse of the same race. The hope is to first train a number of SANE nurses and then have them train more. Let’s hope the legislature continues to fund this important initiative.
Democrats Must Be Willing to Say the Word “Abortion”
As I process the news of the draft Supreme Court brief on the Dobbs v. Jackson Whole Women’s Health, I cannot help but feel angry at the men who just didn’t see this as an important issue and the apolitical women who thought this could not happen and didn’t vote. I know that we aren’t supposed to have litmus test issues, but bodily autonomy has always been a non-negotiable for me.
It wasn't only Republican legislators who made this happen. Democratic male legislators left the gate open by not prioritizing abortion rights. Pro-choice supporters have been advocating for years to make abortion a key issue as the right chipped away at abortion access. But the male legislators buried their heads in the sand like ostriches as abortion access was disappearing for many.
Instead of telling the nation the truth about the positive effects that abortion rights have on women’s lives, male Democrats have avoided the topic, considering it political dynamite. But if you really talk to people about the issue, you will find that most people have great sympathy for a woman who finds herself pregnant when she doesn’t want to be. According to a 2019 poll by Perry & Undum, 73% of Americans support abortion rights and don’t want the government involved. In fact, only 6% of polled voters felt that it was the Supreme Court’s place to make the decision.
Criminalization of pregnancy and miscarriage
The reality is women will die as a result of an abortion ban. And we can already see that the criminalization of abortion is on the horizon. We thought that the Texas SB 8 bill was bad, but this week, the Louisiana legislative committee passed a draft resolution declaring that human life begins at conception and that any abortion after conception is murder. The bill allows the mother to be charged with murder. The bill is headed to the full House legislature. If this bill passes and is signed into law, even taking Plan B and IUDs would likely be outlawed. Interestingly, the Louisiana bill claims that this law supersedes any other law including federal laws allowing abortion. Are they planning to secede?
We will turn into a state that polices the uteri of women. If a woman has a miscarriage, how can she prove that it wasn’t an abortion? If she has pre-eclampsia and will die as a result of carrying the baby to term, can she obtain an abortion? I could go on with many other medical issues that pregnant people face, but you get the idea.
Another frightening problem is the fact that tech companies that sell applications that collect health information “promise” that they won’t sell the data, but they have already been caught doing so. Those who want to police women’s uteri will be able to get medical information either through hacking or just paying for it. You may think this is hyperbole, but the far-right has already used location tracking to identify people going into abortion clinics using women’s location tracking. Read this article from Rewire News Group to learn more about the dangers of digital tracking and the advice they give. Bad actors can buy or hack into the data that many women upload on their phones regarding their period so they can use that information to prove that a woman was pregnant. You may think this is far-fetched, but it is already happening. So if you are using a period-tracking app right now, I would delete it immediately.
President Biden and all of the other male leaders who are pro-choice need to speak loudly and clearly about the issue. Instead of talking about the other rights that may be taken away as a result of this court decision, they need to be talking about why THIS RIGHT should not be taken away. Focus on the women and their lives. My own governor, who generally does a fabulous job, tweeted about the necessity of protecting “women’s healthcare and a woman’s choice”, but he did not say the word abortion in that tweet. We cannot be afraid to name what we are talking about. President Biden’s comments about the Supreme Court’s draft decision "would mean that every other decision related to the notion of privacy is thrown into question." He doesn't address the question at hand, just mentions other issues which, while important, are not on the table at the moment. Male Democrats must be willing to discuss abortion and say the word. When they avoid the word, they telegraph the message that there is something wrong with it.
And I know that some who read this will tell me to calm down, but you know what? I have been told that Roe will never be overturned, and here we are. Unless something drastic happens to change those five justice’s minds, they are going to overturn it within the next 60 days. Those of us who have been watching, have been holding our breaths hoping this day would not come. But I am here to tell you, that they are coming for our birth control and sex education (what’s left of it) too. So what are we going to do about it?