I ran across an open letter to the new Department of Health and Human Services head Tom Price. It is one of the more repellant things I have read in a while. It is everything you would expect from a “a reproductive justice activist, abortion storyteller, and board member at NARAL Pro-Choice America.” Yes, you read that right — storyteller. I am going to refrain from mentioning the woman’s name because really, how could I shame her any more than that description which she herself approved?
The gist of it is that this woman claims she got pregnant because she could not afford birth control rather than from the fact that she let a man inseminate her. Let’s do a bit of fisking shall we!
Congratulations on your recent selection by President-elect Donald Trump to serve as his secretary of health and human services.
I wonder if she would also like her insurance to cover capital letters, because she doesn’t seem to be able to afford those either. We are off to a roaring start. Let’s see what else is in the first paragraph.
As a Black woman, I am distraught that your opposition to the Affordable Care Act will leave many of my sisters without basic health care.
Ooooh…. the race card…. I certainly didn’t see that coming. Did you? And apparently she can capitalize the things she really cares about, such as her race. I think we have reached the point where the old sort of racism has been all but completely stamped out, and the word is more appropriately used now to describe someone who sees everything in terms of race, the same way a Marxist sees everything in term of class. In this sense (and probably in the classical sense as well) she is a racist.
But what’s deeply troubling to me are your comments on abortion and birth control, and your misunderstanding of why access is so crucial.
I refuse to see the word “access” abused in this manner. It implies that someone is being denied something for illegitimate reasons. If I go to Wal-mart and am stopped by security when trying to carry out a TV I did not pay for then I am being denied “access” to the TV in exactly the manner as this woman is describing here. What NARAL and their ilk mean by access is not that they can’t buy something the same way anyone else can, but rather that something is not given to them for free. They don’t have “access” to birth control the same way I don’t have “access” to a bank vault. That is their complaint. They feel they have a right to the possessions of others without having to provide compensation of an amount willingly agreed upon by all parties. Slavers thought the same thing about labor as this woman does about property.
And it really doesn’t matter to them if there are alternatives. I could borrow a TV. Or I could watch with someone else. Or I could borrow the money for a TV. Or I could amuse myself in a fashion which does not involve a TV… which is a key point here is it not? But by their definition I would still have suffered an injury if mommy refused to buy me one.
in 2012, you doubted the very existence of people who have a difficult time affording birth control. “Bring me one woman who has been left behind,” you told a ThinkProgress reporter at the time. “Bring me one. There’s not one.”
Well, Rep. Price, I am one of those women.
Oh, the drama! If only there were sound effects that would play when your eyes read over certain sentences — or when they roll. She goes on to tell a story of how as a 19 year old she ran short on funds and let her birth control lapse for a week or so while she awaited her next paycheck. You can see where this is heading, right? Well she didn’t. She claims she did not understand that the efficacy of the pills would be lessened IF SHE DIDN’T TAKE THEM. She seriously argued that she thought not taking the pills would be just as effective as if she took them.
At the time, I didn’t realize that I could get pregnant if I missed a week or two of pills. In my high school sex-ed classes, the teacher preached about his kids and their purity vows and showed us slides of STDs, rather than giving us helpful information about sex and family planning. Like most teens, I turned to my friends to fill in the gaps, asking them the questions that I didn’t feel comfortable asking my parents, or looking for answers I didn’t get in class. And, like many teens, I didn’t know how to negotiate consent or condom use in my relationship, which later turned abusive. Eventually, I became pregnant.
If only there were a universally available repository of knowledge to which one could turn for reliable information about sex. It would need to be something easy to navigate which is completely private so that someone would not have to face the embarrassment of broaching the subject with their parents. But alas, all we have is the internet. And we all know that access to the internet is strictly controlled by race and gender.
So, to the list of things this woman does not understand we can add how to get “access” to the internet, how to drive to the local health clinic for free condoms, how to satiate sexual desires in a way that does not end with semen in her vagina, and how to use the active voice in describing things she has done. She did not “become pregnant.” She engaged in intercourse and allowed herself to be impregnated. She wasn’t just playing hopscotch when a stork came along and gave her a magic bean. She wasn’t just some spectator to the event. It wasn’t just fate. It was a clearly foreseeable result of her actions.
I knew I wasn’t ready to become a parent. So I made an appointment at the abortion clinic, and maxed out my first credit card, which had a $500 limit that was supposed to only be used in emergencies.
Ah, so she was NOT so bereft of resources that she could not pay for birth control. She had a credit card with at least $500 of credit, enough for a whole year’s worth of birth control at even the inflated rate she quotes in the article. And so although she concedes her entire argument, she does so obliviously.
She goes on to describe how the ACA contraception mandate has done away with all of these problems. No longer will young women be forced to take responsibility for their own actions, or suffer the consequences of their bad decisions. They can remain infants for life as others strive to provide them with everything they need while insulating them from their own stupidity. Which will leave them more time for truly important things like complaining about how people try to mansplain reproduction to them. They can do as they please, content in the knowledge that the taxpayer will be picking up the bill. Isn’t it grand? Or judging by the increase in price of my insurance under the ACA, several grand!
There is also some stuff in there about how black women are prone to painful fibroids which can be treated with birth control pills. She doesn’t mention that health plans paid for these treatments long before the ACA came along. I know because my wife had hers covered. Maybe there were some plans which did not, but that is why no one was forced to buy a particular plan… until now. And boy, am I happy that if I ever get fibroids in my uterus that it will be covered.
It’s true that Black women have abortions at a rate higher than other racial groups, and it’s because we lack consistent access to birth control and have higher maternal mortality rates. In some cases, abortion is the safest option for our lives. Black women know what’s best for our bodies. Trust us, Rep. Price.
Black women have exactly the same access as women of every other race to birth control. No one is standing behind the counter checking someone’s race to see whether anyone can have birth control. All they want is $4 at Wal-mart. For fucks sakes, we aren’t going to rearrange 1/6th of the US economy just because someone is too lazy to panhandle $4 in the parking lot… oh, wait a minute… yeah, we did just that didn’t we?
After this there is some rehashing of grievances and some arguments that are so hopelessly irrational that rather than parse them I will give you something of equal rhetorical content.
On the bright side, this woman is getting absolutely savaged on Twitter and in the comments of the site on which the letter is posted. It is kind of sad really because she obviously isn’t all that bright, and is being used for a purpose that she isn’t really capable of understanding. But it is a marked improvement from when Sandra Fluke trotted out this same crap. People are less fearful of speaking up now, and the press has lost all of its ability to bully. If Trump does nothing else, he will have set people free to speak the actual truth again. Maybe someday we will once again reach the point where none of our women have penises.
This woman’s principle faults are that she is unable to understand cause and effect, is shiftless, and has an inability to feel shame. The pill will cure none of these ailments. And I don’t mean shame over having had sex. I mean shame at wanting others to fund her frolics. She can screw the entire roster of a college football team for all I care. It is none of my business. But the moment she wants me to pay for it then it most definitely becomes my business. I have a lot of hobbies, and it would never occur to me to have her pay for my inflatable…. um… rafts. Nor would I blame the government if I try to get by without a patch on one of the rafts because I am short on funds and end up drowning as a result.
The cause of her getting pregnant was by her own admission not a lack of birth control, but a lack of knowledge. And she tried to acquire that knowledge by asking that renowned expert on sexual reproduction “someone in my class” rather than the teacher whose job is to answer those very questions. The taxpayers already paid to remedy her problem by providing her information, even though it is information which is already widely and easily available. Yet she scorned that resource. Just how often does she want us to intervene in her sex life? Should we send a proctor to observe that she takes her pills, or applies the condom correctly? I mean, if we are responsible for her bad decisions then why just the decision to skip her pills and still have sex? Why that particular one out of all of the dumb things she did, and will do?
She might need a windshield wiper on her car one day and decide to go without it which leads to a car crash. Why shouldn’t we pay for a windshield wiper for everyone? If we follow the ACA model then we could mandate that those be part of auto insurance. And gas too. Someone might run out of money and try to drive too far on fumes, only to have the car break down leading to them being run over, or abducted, or stranded, or, or, or…. being denied “access” to literally everything since they can’t get there. Access to access is the most fundamental human right of them all.
The same argument can be applied to nearly everything we purchase. So why birth control pills? Why is that the rallying point? I confess, I don’t have the slightest clue. And neither does this woman. All of these things have nothing to do with insurance. Insurance is meant to pay for rare, ruinous events that people pool their money to cover. Having insurance pay for maintenance items makes no sense. If auto insurance has to cover wipers then the policy premiums will go up by the cost of the windshield wiper plus a small expense and profit margin. You will come out worse than if you just paid directly for the damned things.
But the ACA is not insurance. It is a wealth redistribution plan masquerading as insurance. This woman doesn’t know much about anything, but she understands that much. She understands freeloading. And instead of asking her boyfriend to help out, she would prefer to ask strangers… no scratch that… she would prefer to compel strangers to pay her way. And that is where the shiftlessness comes in. In fact, she would rather use force against people who have done her no wrong than she would to refrain from sating her carnal desires until she can prepare for the consequences, or understands the risks she is taking. She is demanding that we subsidize not her health, but rather her bad judgment. And there is just not enough money in the world to cover something that enormous.
The kindest thing that could be done for her is exactly what happened to her. She experienced the consequences of the choices she made and now has incentive to make better ones. She may not do that. She may choose to whine and berate others. But at least the incentives are correct, and that is the best we can do for her because we can’t be there to make every decision for her over the course of her entire life even if we wanted to do so.