The anti-choice movement is about controlling women

The anti-choice movement is about controlling women
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More than 800,000 federal workers have gone without pay in the longest government shutdown in American history. The Senate has done nothing to address it and Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) scheduled a single cloture vote yesterday— on an anti-abortion bill.

When hundreds of thousands of American families’ well-being and survival hang in the balance, the GOP chooses only to make a political play ahead of the March for Life beginning today.

The hypocrisy of focusing on a March for Life while desperate mothers and children seeking refuge are turned away at the border; while children die in detention; while denying funding for health care and nutrition for infants or shelter for domestic violence survivors and while so many American families suffer; should not be lost. But if we want to narrowly focus on life as it pertains to reproduction, let’s have that discussion.

Just this week, Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandExpanding our health force can save lives and create jobs simultaneously Sanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (D-N.Y.) introduced a bill, co-sponsored by Senators Booker and Harris, to address the maternal mortality crisis in our country. The United States has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world and is the only country where the rate of deaths is rising. On average, twice a day in the U.S. a new mother dies.

And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that at least 60 percent of these deaths are entirely preventable. Women are dying at alarming rates and the U.S. has not even devoted resources to officially tracking these deaths; no official count exists. For a decade, these deaths have been gone unreleased. Historically there haven’t even been national standards or review for data collection or reporting.  

The United States hasn’t invested enough in maternal and post-partum care; federal and state funding show only six percent of block grants earmarked for “maternal and child health” even goes to the health of mothers, the majority going towards infants. There are investments in fetal medicine, teaching and care centers — with no comparable investment in maternal health.

Women are released days after giving birth with little information, support, or resources. They are typically cleared with one six week, post-partum checkup, even though studies indicate — and any mother will tell you — it takes at least a year for your body to recover.

Women have shared stories of being released from the hospital with cracked pelvises, infected incisions, life threatening clots; Serena Williams famously had to advocate for her own care when she faced life-threatening complications after childbirth and her concerns weren’t taken seriously.

If there was a clear indication of how we feel about the lives of women in our country, this is it. And black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy or delivery-related causes as white women. Poor women, rural women and women of color are at highest risk — but pregnancy and childbirth kill women of every race, background and income level, in every state in the country.

It should be abundantly clear that politically, the anti-choice movement is not as concerned with protecting and valuing life as it is with controlling women. Where are the marches for the women who die every day in pregnancy and childbirth, needlessly and preventably? Where are the powerful lobbies? Where are the signs, the graphic photos of dead mothers in protest, the research institutes, the laws and earmarks?

Senate Majority Leader, in your concern for life, will you be taking up a bill to address maternal mortality and morbidity? Do you and your colleagues care about women’s lives?

Dawn Huckelbridge is director of the Women's Rights Initiative at American Bridge.