The rise in shaming women by politicians just because they can is a dangerous and upsetting trend. No one should be creating policy just to be a bully, and the time to stop it is now.
Take, for example, Senate Bill 299 proposed by Republicans this year and moving through the General Assembly. The bill actually requires abortion providers to ask every woman if she wants to cremate or bury the remains of her abortion, including women who receive a medical abortion. This doesn’t even make sense because when a woman chooses a medical abortion, that procedure does not take place at a provider. She takes the first pill at the clinic, then is given another pill to take at home two days later. She will then have what amounts to a heavy menstrual cycle. Telling her to choose between burial and cremation is a false choice.
I’d like to say here that discussing such personal matters for women in medical detail makes me uncomfortable; I don’t enjoy it. But if the Republicans are going to insist on inserting big government into these personal matters, then I will continue to fight them with medical accuracy.
When a woman has a medical abortion it is much like a heavy menstrual cycle that can last for up to approximately two weeks. Women are not going to keep sanitary products, or try to reclaim something from a toilet, to make sure they return what amounts to a blood clot to a health facility. Women will not choose to return to an abortion clinic to walk through screaming protesters and get harassed a second time. Yet, that is exactly what Republicans are asking.
Suggesting this as a “choice” for women is to completely ignore the scientific and medical realities of what a medical abortion is and how early it happens in pregnancy. But understanding and accuracy isn’t the goal here. Demeaning women and pressuring them into feeling guilty for making decisions about their own bodies is the only real goal. By requiring abortion providers to tell a woman about burial options, the State of Indiana is telling women that unidentifiable embryonic tissue is morally equivalent to an actual person and that a woman who elects to have an abortion is committing murder. This is bullying, and solely intended to shame.
At a time when pregnant moms in Indiana die at twice the rate as other states — our state also has the 7th highest infant mortality rate in the nation — there are things the Republican supermajority could do to actually protect life. We heard a great bill to require reasonable pregnancy accommodations in the workplace. Accommodations in the workplace decrease the risk of premature birth, which is one of the biggest reasons for infant mortality. Instead of passing with flying colors, the “pro-life” supermajority sent this issue to die in a summer study committee. I had a bill to expand Medicaid coverage to our poorest moms from 60 days postpartum to one year postpartum to ensure post-pregnancy complications get addressed and our infants have access to doctors. This was voted down by every single Republican. Still, in order to “preserve life,” Statehouse Republicans would ask women to please bury or cremate their heavy period.
Attacking abortion rights to score political points has been easy. I’m here to make it less easy. I will not stand by silently while politicians continue to stigmatize women for accessing their constitutional right. Hoosier women are smart, we are strong, we are hardworking and we fiercely love our families. I trust us to make decisions that are best for us and our families. We don’t deserve this government-sanctioned bullying. We deserve the freedom to control our own bodies and our own lives.