Reader Request Week 2023 #1: The Fallout From Abortion Restrictions
Time to begin this year’s Reader Request Week, and why not start on an absolutely-non-controversial-in-any-way topic, suggested by LadyCat:
Quick sum up: What are your thoughts about your family, specifically your wife and daughter, remaining in Ohio for the long term due to its strict limits on abortion and the spillover from this into other aspects of women’s healthcare?
Specifically, I’m thinking about news stories of women being denied access to desperately needed arthritis medication because that medicine could be considered an abortifacient and they “might” get pregnant while on the medication. Or of a woman who had already gone through menopause having to have her doctor wrangle the pharmacy to dispense pills she needed for some urgent uterine issue, because the pharmacy claimed she couldn’t “prove” that she couldn’t get pregnant and therefore wasn’t using the pills for a secret abortion.
Let me answer this two ways, first, directly with regard to the specifics of the question (my family, and also the state of Ohio), and, when that’s dealt with, more generally.
So, first, at the moment, abortion in Ohio is still legal through 21 weeks and six days; there was a law passed to limit that to six weeks, but it was immediately challenged and is working its way through the courts now. So if any of this were an issue right now, it would still be solvable in-state.
If things change, and they very well might?
Well, look: we’re rich. It’s pretty trivial for anyone in my family who might need an abortion and/or medication that might have abortifacient side effects to cross a state line and deal with it. Inconvenient? Yes! Might we have to pay for these things out of pocket rather than through our insurance provider? Perhaps! But, again, we’re rich and such things would be within our budget.
And if, should the GOP take all three branches of the national government, and set about doing the things we all know they would do, there’s a USA-wide abortion ban? Well, rich people are able to travel abroad, aren’t they, and medical tourism is not unknown even now. It can be cheaper in some circumstances to give yourself a vacation in Europe and get some medical issue attended to while you bask in the sun — even in a private hospital! — than to stay at home and wrangle with your insurance provider about it. So at the first hint of an issue: Oh, look, a trip to France! Or Italy! Or Germany! Isn’t the continent lovely this time of year, we’ve always wanted to go and only now have found the time.
So, yes, short of an acute, emergency issue — which could happen! And then we’re fucked! — my family will have no problem being in Ohio and the US for the long term. That’s because rich people don’t and never have had the same restrictions as anyone else, geographically, financially or otherwise, on this or nearly any other issue you might be able to mention. We can fix so many of our problems with money, and very likely won’t miss the money that solved our problem for us.
This is, obviously, hideously fucking unfair.
Not because the rich need to be dragged down to the same level of medical inaccessibility and consequence as everybody else, but because everybody else should have the same level of medical access and care that the rich get as a matter of course. And everyone, rich, poor and anything in between, should have access to competent and comprehensive medical care across the board, including access to abortion, wherever it is that they live.
But they don’t — particularly women (and other folks with uteruses, and if you’re about to whine “if you have a uterus you’re a woman” please feel free to fuck right off, your binary bullshit has no relation to reality and I’m not entertaining it here and now), and particularly in GOP-controlled states. Make no mistake, limiting abortion access will kill and is killing people, and making medical consequences for the people who don’t die so much worse; by now we’ve seen the stories of women who are actively miscarrying being told by doctors and hospitals that they can’t do anything for them until they are very nearly on the edge of death. If you have to go to the very edge of death to get medical care, one, you might well go right over that edge, and two, the way back from that edge is far harder than what it would have been if you had been able to get competent and compassionate medical attention at an earlier stage.
(And let’s be clear that in GOP-controlled states competent care for health care, and pregnancy-related health care in particular, is going to become harder to get because doctors quite reasonably don’t want to work in a state where the practice of their profession could land them in jail — Idaho, the legislature of which has passed some of the most bugfuck ridiculous restrictions on abortions, has hospitals ceasing pregnancy care and OB/GYNs leaving or planning to leave the state. This is only going to get worse, not better, as we go along.)
Let’s go back to the original question. I don’t think there’s any problem for my family to stay in Ohio long-term, because our access to competent care is not likely to be constrained by geography. Would I recommend Ohio, or any other GOP-controlled state, to people who might get pregnant, with any and all the medical issues that arise from that condition? Not, really, no, even if one has been intentionally trying to become pregnant. As a general rule, if one has a choice, and isn’t rich enough not to have it really matter, I think it’s smarter to live in a state where the law allows for sane and sensible health care, doesn’t relegate half the population to second-class status in terms of body autonomy and medical access, and doesn’t consider you a potential criminal if you don’t go to term, even when you fully intended to and your body (or the body of the fetus) wasn’t able to do it. If you have a choice, live in a kinder state.
The thing is, there are people in Ohio and other GOP-controlled states who are getting pregnant, and don’t have the means to move to a state where care and options are better. They’re stuck with what they have where they are.
Which is another reason for us not to leave Ohio: the state needs people who believe foursquare in the right to full and complete access to be best possible medical care for everyone, regardless of the state of their uterus, or whether they, simply, have one. We can go anywhere to take care of our medical needs. We shouldn’t just tell the ones who can’t that they’re on their own.
(Have a question for Reader Request Week? Leave in the comment thread at this link.)