10 November 2010

Election redux: welcome to bloody red Pennsylvania

So it's come to pass, now that the election is done and gone, that Pennsylvania is a red state. Here at Glomarization's homestead, that means one thing (well, of course it means a lot of things, but it means one huge thing in this household): we've gotta start seriously looking out for the right of women in Pennsylvania, and in the rest of the nation, to choose abortion when they want it.

Reproductive healthcare is healthcare. It's a subcategory of healthcare; it's not an entity on its own, like personal finance, or housecleaning, or anything else you'd hire a service provider for. Health insurance companies may say, essentially, that your teeth and eyes aren't part of your body, by not providing dental and optical coverage with their insurance policies; but they can't say the same thing about your uterus and ovaries. This is because reproductive healthcare is not a separate, carved-out part of women's health and bodies. It is fundamentally part of their daily lives. For the vast majority of women between the ages of about 15 and 45 -- or for about a third or half of their lifetime -- every single month there is an uncertainty. Am I pregnant, or did I dodge the bullet again this month? (Or the other side of the coin: did we manage to get pregnant this time, or will we be trying again?) Did I replace the spare pad in my purse after I used the last one a few weeks ago? Will I get a good roll of the dice when I schedule my week down the shore next year, or will I end up sitting on the sand in a pair of shorts? Why did I have to get my driver's license photo (or work ID, or school portrait) taken this week, when I have blemishes all over my chin from PMS?

Or less universal, but still very frequent, questions: How many days of work will I miss this month because of my debilitating cramps? Will I need another D & C for the fibroids that keep coming back? Why doesn't my state insurance commissioner require my health insurance provider to cover my pills? And is that a stroke I feel coming on from taking the Pill and smoking this cigarette at the same time?

I'm listing this stuff lightheartedly, but questions, concerns, and thoughts related to our reproductive healthcare are frequently on our minds, to one degree or another. For some of us, these thoughts are constantly on our minds. Why? Because our reproductive health and our overall health are so intimately intertwined that they are really the one and the same thing.

Republican extremist Senator-elect Pat Toomey would imprison doctors who perform abortions (video). At least he's somewhat intellectually honest: if abortion is murder, then abortion doctors are criminals. But you can't have an abortion without a woman who gets it, so she must therefore be an accomplice to the "crime" and should be in prison, too -- if you're being fully intellectually honest. And let's be clear: that would be a million American women per year.

A woman who cannot choose what to do about her reproductive health -- which is not an aspect of our overall health, but is integral to our overall health -- is not in full control of her destiny. When an American Senator would imprison women for obtaining healthcare, one million of them every year or a third of all American women over the course of their childbearing years, we have a problem in this country.

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