Hello! Welcome to Shots and Chasers, a Grist roundup of reproductive rights news.
Here’s the problem: There’s not a lot of good news in the sphere of reproductive rights! In fact, pretty much all of it makes a gal want to take two Xanax with a swig of white wine and go back to bed. But even if each subsequent development in access to sexual education, contraception, and abortion is hair-tearing-ly frustrating, it’s really important that women know that they’re happening. In fact, it’s especially important that we know that our reproductive rights are being chipped away — because the more of us that are pissed off about it, the more we can do to stop it.
But too much anger is unhealthy, so allow us to share all the news about threats to a woman’s autonomy in a way that won’t make your blood pressure skyrocket: In the grand tradition of shitty bars everywhere, take each bit of reproductive health news with a Grist-curated chaser of something a little less awful.
Without further ado — bottoms up:
SHOT: If you are a thinking person who watched the train wreck that was the GOP debate on Wednesday, you may have thought: “Wow, these descriptions of the Planned Parenthood videos are pretty disturbing! Why aren’t more people up in arms over this?” Carly Fiorina, for her part, shared a particularly grisly piece of Center for Medical Progress fan fiction:
That’s a helluva challenge, Carly, because such a video does not exist.
Why does this suck? Each time Planned Parenthood gets falsely painted as the most evil abortion factory on the block, the reality of what the organization does — i.e., provide valuable reproductive health care for millions of Americans — gets obscured, threatening the organization’s funding enormously. Which, incidentally, brings us to our next shot — but first:
CHASER: A way more fun video from a far less heinous Carly, featuring a charmingly lip-syncing Tom Hanks:
SHOT: Remember when Republicans tried to defund Planned Parenthood over the summer and got shut down? Well, they’re at it again — from all kinds of wacky angles! On Friday, the GOP-controlled House voted to freeze federal funding for Planned Parenthood to protest the organization’s policy of passing aborted fetuses over to medical researchers. The House additionally passed a bill that would criminally charge doctors who fail to keep aborted fetuses alive.
Why does this suck? Planned Parenthood’s abortion services only make up 3 percent of all of the services the organization provides, and federal dollars cannot be applied to them. It’s like: “She doesn’t even go here!” That means the House will be voting on removing funding for everything that, you know, actually lessens rates of abortion, like contraception and sex ed training. The vast majority of public funding to Planned Parenthood provides basic health care to millions of low-income Americans, like gynecological exams and cancer screenings.
The Senate is unlikely to pass the bill defunding Planned Parenthood, and Obama has declared that he would veto it, but right-wingers in the House might still try to tie the issue to a must-pass government budget, which could lead to a government shutdown — so much fun the last time around!
CHASER: Let’s all take a moment to bask in the feel-good climactic moment of Mean Girls:
SHOT: Earlier this week, Blanca Borrego, a Latina immigrant in Texas, was arrested while trying to see a gynecologist at a local clinic. From the Houston Press:
When Borrego arrived at the clinic last Thursday for her routine annual exam, staff told her they needed to update her file and, after she filled out some paperwork, they asked for an ID. Borrego, an undocumented immigrant who overstayed her visa some 12 years ago, handed staff a fake driver’s license. Then she waited. Borrego’s eldest daughter, who asked that her name not be published, says her mother was about to give up and leave when staff finally called her back into an examination room.
Minutes later, Borrego’s daughter saw Harris County Sheriff’s deputies march her mother out of the clinic. She says her 8-year-old sister started to cry when she saw the handcuffs.
Why does this suck? I mean, did you read it? Undocumented women in this country are regularly denied life-saving reproductive health services, which is entirely unacceptable for obvious reasons. No woman should have to fear jail or deportation for simply trying to take care of her body.
CHASER: ICYMI, read America Ferrera’s open letter to Donald Trump in response to his deranged and hateful comments about immigration reform.
SHOT: This week, Senate Republicans voted to fast-track a bill sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. Basically, the bill — which has already been passed by the House — won’t have to pass a Senate committee, and can go straight to a full Senate vote.
Why does this suck? Fortunately, the bill isn’t likely to garner a majority vote in the Senate — and even if it were, it would likely be vetoed by Obama. But the ongoing preoccupation with late-stage abortions is indicative of a grave misunderstanding of the circumstances that surround them.
The vast majority of abortions take place before 21 weeks. But late-term abortions often only occur because women seeking them are in very challenging circumstances — they haven’t had the money for the procedure, or they live 200 miles away from the nearest abortion clinic, or they’re in an abusive relationship. The women targeted by bills like these are often those who are already most in need, and the ones who will suffer most from carrying an unintended pregnancy to term.
CHASER: After all these downers, the wonderful fact of TGIF alone may not be enough to lift your emotions from their subterranean status. Instead, treat yourself to the best 5,000 words ever written about America’s Favorite [Airport] Restaurant, TGI Friday’s.