We spend a lot — OK, most — of our time documenting the atrocities women endure in America, for the terrible and costly crime of being women. There’s a reason this column isn’t called “This Week In Happy Awesome Matriarchal Funtimes,” after all. And in case you’re wondering, yes, there are plenty of fresh new atrocities out there this week. Just ask the Google.
But screw it, this week, let’s (mostly) focus on some Happy Awesome Matriarchal Funtimes, yeah? Like, oh, say, this historic awwwwwwww yeah victory for abortion rights on Monday, courtesy of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, (aka, the Texas HB2 law), which reaffirmed women’s constitutional right to safe, legal abortion. No need to pinch yourselves; it’s real, as the brilliant and superbad badass Jessica Pieklo explains at SCOTUSblog:
For abortion-rights advocates, the decision represents not just an important win, but signals an important rhetorical shift on the legal debate over abortion rights at a time when state-level restrictions threaten to render that right legal in name only.
You should definitely read the entire court opinion. It’s full of delicious legal nuggets that spell out, in no uncertain terms, that NO, anti-abortion legislators, you canNOT just make up laws that restrict access to abortion and say they will benefit women’s health when there is zero evidence that they will. For example:
We conclude that neither of these provisions [in HB 2] offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes.
For another example:
We have found nothing in Texas’ record evidence that shows that, compared to prior law (which required a “working arrangement” with a doctor with admitting privileges), the new law advanced Texas’ legitimate interest in protecting women’s health.
For another example:
[The provision of HB2] vastly increase the obstacles confronting women seeking abortions in Texas without providing any benefit to women’s health capable of withstanding any meaningful scrutiny.
For another another example — oh, just go read the whole thing, would you? It’s worth it.
Now, let’s be perfectly clear: This ruling doesn’t mean all restrictions on abortion are instantly null and void. (Oh, if only, right?) It doesn’t mean that the health centers in Texas that were forced to close under this draconian (and, AHEM, unconstitutional) law will immediately open tomorrow. But the decision does lay the groundwork for women and our abortion providers to go state by state, fighting to repeal similarly restrictive laws because, like the Supreme Court said, undue burdens with no health benefit to women are a big fat NOPE. So we still have a lot of hard work ahead. But this decision gives us a new tool, and a real shift in our language about abortion rights, to use in that work. And, as Jessica Pieklo notes in her piece at SCOTUSblog, which you should also read in full:
In today’s decision, abortion rights advocates finally got a decision that recognizes abortion as both a fundamental right and a medical necessity that doesn’t require an apology or targeted legislative restrictions.
Here’s this week’s good,
bad, and hideously ugly and more good, for a change:
- Our president, y’all:
I’m designating the Stonewall National Monument as the newest addition to America’s national parks system. Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights. I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country – the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us. That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one.
- One state down, 49 to go:
New York City made history on Tuesday, passing the first bill in the nation that guarantees women in public schools, shelters, and correctional facilities access to pads and tampons.
Since we know for a bona fide actual factual that the menfolk don’t want us bleeding out of our wherevers all over the place — not to mention how the advertising geniuses in the ladyparts hygiene industry, which is dominated by MEN, would also like us waxed, vajazzled and smelling like a cool summer breeze or whatever scent is du jour — it makes basic common sense that we shouldn’t have to pay an arm and a uterus to take care of our monthlies when we’re out and about and don’t have our own secret stash in our back pocket. As Mattie Kahn at Elle notes, this is the next step after 15 states have eliminated the “tampon tax” on our, uh, down-there products. Guess states will have to find another way to pay for filling potholes.
- Oh look, it’s another study about the wage gap, which isn’t real except that it is:
The wage gap between male and female workers widens at around age 32, the same time that women start to become underrepresented in managerial ranks, finds a new report from workforce analytics firm Visier.
At that age, women earn approximately 90% of their male counterparts’ incomes, a share that declines to 82% by age 40. During that same period, men are more likely to be promoted into managerial roles.
- Just going to leave this here:
Like a gender reveal but instead of eating pink or blue cake you smash a piggy bank to reveal $1 if it’s a boy or 78 cents if it’s a girl
— Meg Monk (@MegMonk) March 18, 2016
- This is what fiscal conservatism looks like, right?
North Dakota spent $491,016 in legal costs defending an ill-fated law passed by the state’s Republican-led Legislature three years ago that attempted to ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected, records obtained by The Associated Press show.
It’s not as if states that pass blatantly unconstitutional anti-abortion laws don’t know it’s going to cost them. They know they’re going to get sued, but they’re willing to gamble their taxpayers’ money that they prevail in court, so somehow, half a million dollars later, it might be worth it because they’ve succeeded in denying women access to reproductive health care so it’s a terrific return on investment! (That’s sarcasm. It’s a terrible return on investment.) Often—though not often enough—these states lose because, in case you missed it a few sentences ago, these laws are BLATANTLY. UN.CON.STITUTIONAL. Heck, even Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin recently said “thanks, but no thanks” to a bill passed by the legislature that would have criminalized abortion entirely. Not because she supports abortion rights (she most certainly does not), but because she calculated that her broke-ass state couldn’t afford the inevitable litigation fees. Now North Dakota is learning math skills the hard way: Passing anti-abortion laws that are — once more, with feeling! — BLATANTLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL doesn’t add up.
RIP patriarchy. For now, anyway.