If the Republicans take Congress in November—and with the Democrats currently doing everything in their power to come across as imperious and condescending to their base voters, it’s a sad possibility—we can expect to start seeing an influx of really bad legislation getting passed and handed over to Obama (who will probably sign some of it under waves of pressure from the Villagers to be “bipartisan”, because god forbid we put the people of the country before the cocktail parties of D.C.). Republicans already have a number of bad bills in the hopper, and many of them are aimed squarely at fucking women over more than they’re already fucked.
One of these is a bill that would make the Hyde Amendment permanent. Yes, even as the number of reproductive age women that are on Medicaid jumped by more than a million in a single year.
The video above is a short, extremely excellent breakdown of how bad the Hyde Amendment already is in terms of creating ruin in the lives of women that are already struggling. Right from the top, you learn that 1 in 10 women in the country is on Medicaid (at this point, fewer than 60% of women of reproductive age in the U.S. are covered by private insurance). And the statistics get even more troubling, in terms of the vast gulf between the need for abortion coverage and the utter lack of it, due to the Hyde Amendment. The word on the reproductive health care streets is that the demand for abortion funding has skyrocketed, and that abortion funds across the country are getting drained rapidly even as they’re doing better in fund-raising than they have in years past. For women in the worst financial circumstances who are the least able to afford another baby when they get pregnant unintentionally, access to abortion is becoming that much more of a pipe dream.
It’s in this environment that a Republican congressman named Chris Smith, assisted with one of those wretched anti-choice Democrats Daniel Lipinski, decided to double down the assault on the poorest women in this country by writing a bill that would turn Hyde into permanent law, instead of an annual budget amendment.
Chris Smith is just one example of how Congress is already stuffed to the gills with woman-hating wingnuts. Just Sunday, he launched an assault on UN attempts to increase access to women’s health care worldwide by implying that it was a secret conspiracy to throw a worldwide abortion party. But Smith’s waxing poetic about how he gives two shits about millennium development goals is disingenuous. He’s using abortion as a cover to attack all family planning services, and if he got his way, the access to safer childbirth—which is linked to overall health care services, including contraception services—would also dry up. Smith’s claims that women don’t need family planning services—which are mostly centered around contraception, even as he uses abortion as a scare tactic—to be healthy is a straight lie. He cites declining maternal mortality numbers to “prove” that women don’t need contraception as long as they have decent birth assistance, but neglects to note what actual experts around the world actually know, which is that access to contraception and other activism that reduces child marriage and pregnancy are major factors in declining maternal mortality. Since Smith refuses to accept the facts, I’m inclined to believe that given the choice between reduced access to contraception with high maternal mortality or lowered maternal mortality with improved access to contraception, he’d take the former every time.
Why do I think this? Because Smith is a nasty enough liar to link people who actually do the hard work of improving life for women and children with those who sell children into prostitution:
Talk of “unwanted children” reduces children to mere objects, without inherent human dignity and whose worth depends on their perceived utility or how much they’re wanted. One merely has to look at the scourge of human trafficking and the exploitation of children for forced labor or child soldiering to see where such disregard for the value of life leads.
Wrong. This is the exact opposite of reality. Trafficking of women and children is the result of the same patriarchal forces that Smith promotes, those that reduce women to their reproductive functions. Smith simply can’t care about children if he thinks the proper thing to do is force women to have one child after another until their bodies give out. That’s not how you make sure children are well cared for. That’s not how you make sure families aren’t so impoverished that they listen to the lies of traffickers. The notion that you can make unwanted children more wanted and cared for by forcing women to have them against their will is roughly the stupidest thing in the world, contrary to basic common sense. The best way to make sure children are wanted is…..to make sure that children are wanted. It’s the advocates for contraception and safe abortion that want every child to be wanted and cared for.
At home and abroad, Chris Smith is working actively towards a world where women have no control over their basic reproductive functions, children are treated less like human beings and more like “consequences” inflicted on you for breaking arbitrary sex rules imposed on you by Chris Smith, and people living in poverty are so busy trying to keep up that they have no chance of getting ahead. Part of his bleak mission for the world is making sure that it’s even harder to get rid of the Hyde Amendment, which exists strictly to send the signal that poor women, through no fault of their own, deserve even fewer sexual and reproductive health rights than other women.
So please click this link and take action to pressure Congress not to turn Hyde into permanent law. And if you want to know more about the devastation that Hyde has brought to women’s lives, watch the short video above, read this timeline about Hyde, and check out this PDF report on the impact of the Hyde Amendment.
And if you want to send an irate letter to the Washington Post to scold them for publishing Chris Smith’s misogyny disguised as concern for women, you have my full support.