For American women, dystopia is a few budget cuts away.
A friend of a friend sent me a sketch comedy video she made as a response to the looming bill to defund Planned Parenthood currently in Committee in Congress. Hey, everything’s fodder for comedy nowadays. Humor seems to be all we have to hang onto as we watch our civil rights and domestic programs get decimated by a slash-happy tangerine in a toupee.
“Rep. Diane Black (R-Tennessee) introduced H.R. 354, the ‘Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2017,’ on 6 January. Like another version introduced (and passed by the House) in 2015, the bill would prohibit distribution of federal funds to Planned Parenthood Federation of America or any of its affiliates or clinics for a period of one year, unless they certify that no funds will go toward providing abortions (except in cases of rape, incest, or life-threatening conditions). H.R. 354 has 133 cosponsors (all Republicans), even though the use of federal funds for abortion services is already prohibited by law, and even though Planned Parenthood claims abortions comprise only 3 percent of its total services (a disputed figure) and only around 10 percent of its clients receive abortions.”
Also, even if H.R. 345 doesn’t pass, legislation to defund Planned Parenthood is also built into the American Health Care Act proposed by House Republicans that would replace the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).
According to The Washington Post,
“The legislation would preserve two of the most popular features of the 2010 health-care law, letting young adults stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26 and forbidding insurers to deny coverage or charge more to people with preexisting medical problems. It would also target Planned Parenthood, rendering the women’s health organization ineligible for Medicaid reimbursements or federal family planning grants — a key priority for antiabortion groups.”
Which means even though not one cent of federal money currently goes to Planned Parenthood’s abortion services, the women’s health organization will be penalized by the federal government for even offering abortion services.
And that means women and girls who use Planned Parenthood for non-abortion-related women’s health services, like...
...will be penalized, too.
Here’s what my friend-of-a-friend imagined the consequences of such a legislation would be:
The group of friends in the sketch live in a post-Planned Parenthood world, where abortions are inaccessible, essential women’s health services are stripped away, and birth control is contraband. They talk about the usual stuff straight girlfriends chat about at brunch: their social lives and their sex lives.
But in this not-too-distant future, the lack of access to birth control and the fear of unwanted pregnancy has made sex, well...different. One of the highlights is when one of the women describes a whole new way of having sex “doggy style.”
The world in which these women live is painfully funny, but it’s also also frightening: as I followed along I found myself snickering with my teeth clenched.
It was the same kind of nervous, hollow laughter that people have in the trenches of crises, when they know that there’s nowhere to go but up.
If that’s a funny-but-not-far-off scenario for single, white, middle-class women, just imagine what life will be like for women below poverty level once affordable women’s health care and abortion services are out of reach.
Imagine if you will....
As the ladies are chatting over brunch about their fear of unwanted pregnancy and the strange sex practices they have to resort to, the camera zooms through the window to a scene outside the cafe.
An exhausted mother of four kids pushes a stroller. She feels a familiar queasiness. It must be morning sickness.
There’s no way she can afford to have a fifth kid. She already has to work two jobs to just barely cover rent for her dilapidated apartment—it used to be managed by HUD, but...well...Ben Carson and budget cuts.
And since she’s undocumented, she can’t apply for welfare or WIC—not that it would cover enough food anyway, since Congress slashed the budget for international and domestic food programs.
If her husband were still around, she might be able to take some time off to have the baby, but he was detained and deported a month ago after he ran a stop sign taking their daughter to school.
Besides, even if she had the baby and gave it up for adoption, she didn’t have health insurance to cover pre-natal care or post-natal checkups. She could do all of that with Obamacare, but now...RIP.
Luckily, she heard a rumor that a guy in the neighborhood who used to have a side hustle selling oxycontin is now in the abortion business. He learned about abortifacients from his grandmother, who was a black market dealer of abortion drugs in the Philippines—where abortion is illegal without exception and 800,000 women are hospitalized for illegal abortion attempts gone wrong.
The chance of being hospitalized or dying because of a botched abortion attempt almost convinces her to have the baby.
But the certainty of carrying a pregnancy to term while working two jobs, giving birth after 4 c-sections, and not having paid maternity leave to help her make rent while she recovers, is enough to make up her mind. She’ll go to the Filipino guy.
She takes a deep breath before pushing the stroller again. She has to pick her oldest kids up at the charter school, 7 miles away. They both have special needs and used to take the bus, but since the Department of Education no longer enforces IDEA, there’s no reason to offer free transportation or even special education classes.
But hey— at least America’s great again, right?
Let’s keep both of these scenarios from happening to women and their families. Because, despite the gallow’s humor of the video, there’s really nothing funny about a world where women can’t get affordable access to healthcare.
(Although that “doggy style” line was pretty funny).
To tell your members of Congress to oppose the repeal of ACA and to stand with Planned Parenthood, use this email form from the ACLU (seriously— all you have to do is click “send.”)