Montreal A quote in a Washington Post article from a younger mother in Silver Springs, Maryland, caught my eye. Recounting the trials and tribulations being faced by women right now, she said it felt like there was a “war on women.” Her point seems past debate once any of us take the time to look at the short list of obstacles women are facing these days.
This article was provoked by the very personal economic and supply crisis that is now claiming women’s personal hygiene products. Inexplicably, tampons have been disappearing from store shelves around the country in the latest outrage. When they can be found either online or at stores, the prices are soaring. One young, lower-waged woman with two teenage daughters bemoaned where she was going to find the extra bucks to handle her family’s periods, if she could even find the product to buy.
That’s just the latest injury piling on other insults. The baby formula crisis is also still in the news. Having been part of a team that raised two young ones on Similac, I have read these articles carefully, remembering a time on organizing wages when we didn’t have two cents to rub together. I found this situation horribly unimaginable. What would we have done? How might small, even premature babies, have been permanently inflicted without formula at that stage of their life when we counted every ounce on the scale as a small victory?
Tampons and formula seem like canaries in the mine in this “war on women,” because the disregard for women and their health, both as women and mothers, is writ large over the impending crisis that will devast their prospects if Roe v. Wade rejects their ability to have choice. I read a story this week about a country that has politicized abortion so strictly that it has legally forced health care workers to prioritize saving the baby over the mother’s life. One victim was texting her family, while bleeding to death, that the hospital seemed to be letting her die in order to save the baby, and so she died. It’s not just some Latin American country. The American Medical Association has noted that so-called crisis pregnancy centers, often religiously-affiliated and ideology-based, outnumber abortion clinics by almost five-to-one and are unethical, because they prioritize the child over the mother and are unable to judge the health impacts. Add the pandemic to all of this, where women, especially mothers, were forced out of the workforce by school and daycare closures, adding home schooling to the rest of their labors, while diminishing their incomes. In such a situation, how can we be surprised that the old men of the Senate can’t make a priority of continuing the child care subsidies for lower income and eligible families?
This isn’t just a war on women, but a war on younger women, especially young women who are mothers and are still at child-bearing age. How can the government, the courts, or any institution allow this to happen? How mammoth is the hypocrisy that drives religious and ideological warriors claiming to know what’s best for these women, their families, and the men who care about them, to force upon them a system and an economy that not only imperils their lives and that of their families, but seems heedless to the consequences of their actions and advocacy?
Even with my hair on fire, reading and thinking about this, my heart is breaking over the constant and daily tragedies being inflicted on women — the innocent, but clearly intended, victims — in the latest battles in what seems to have been an endless war against them.