Today’s featured photo is a screen shot from a snark video about a certain YouTuber…
I wasn’t really planning to write about Shiny Happy People again. I watched it twice, and thought it was very well done. I wrote my thoughts about the docuseries in my blog. Not that many people care about my opinions, and that’s fine. In fact, I think that’s the way I prefer it to be. I’ve seen what can happen when people get super popular.
So anyway, I have mentioned more than once that I sometimes watch Katie Joy’s videos about the Duggars. Katie Joy, for those who don’t know, is the person behind the Without A Crystal Ball channel on YouTube. She is a very controversial figure, but I don’t personally have any beefs with her. I mainly watch her videos because she often includes clips from the Duggars’ old reality show, 19 Kids and Counting, and sometimes she has some interesting commentary.
I have noticed that a whole lot of people don’t seem to like Katie Joy. I’ve seen many people making videos that attack her. I know she’s been sued on several occasions, and sometimes people even call the cops or CPS on her. Katie Joy has a son who is disabled. I think he might have autism, but I’m not 100 percent sure about that. I don’t engage Katie Joy, though. I mainly watch her channel to pass the time.
In the wake of the docuseries, I’ve noticed some people on YouTube claiming that Katie Joy is super pissed that she wasn’t involved with the Amazon docuseries. Katie Joy claims that initially, she was involved, but now she’s working on a series with another outfit. Yesterday, she put out a video about why she wasn’t on the Amazon series. I did watch it, mainly because it was the afternoon and that’s siesta time for me…
Now, I didn’t necessarily think this video was unreasonable. Taking it at face value, it sounds like this situation could be plausible. Katie Joy explains that she’s upset that Jim Holt, and his wife, Bobye, were involved in the series. In the docuseries, Mr. Holt comes off as basically a normal, decent guy who just wants to take down the IBLP, but his wife and one of his sons currently have ten year protection orders out against him. The link indicates that the order of protection was granted on April 21, 2023.
Looking at Google, I see that this news is all over the place today. BUT– somehow, I knew about this several weeks ago. I want to say Katie Joy was the one who mentioned it on YouTube. Yet there it is in the headlines today. I’m not sure why this is fresh news today, when I knew about it a couple of weeks ago. Katie Joy had mentioned it on her channel. I don’t follow her on other social media, but other YouTube commentary channels have videos about how “pissed” Katie Joy was that Jim Holt was featured on Shiny Happy People. Based on the above video, Katie Joy knew about Holt’s abuse issues and tried to warn the Amazon producers. They used him anyway, and on the show, he and Bobye seem like a devoted couple. Edited to add: Yes, Katie Joy mentioned the domestic violence/order of protection news in early May. See the video below.
Well… again, I don’t know what to think about Katie Joy. I just watch some of her videos. I don’t even watch on a daily basis, because she covers a lot of topics that don’t interest me, like Sister Wives. And I don’t even watch everything she puts out about the Duggars, because I am kind of casual about my interest in that topic, too. They’re just one aspect of one of my interests, which is strict, fringe religions. Check this blog, and you’ll find I’ve read and reviewed many books about a variety of different religions, cults, and sects. I’ve written lots of posts about different religious groups, too. The fundies are just one group of many that I watch.
So… what’s so funny, then? This morning, I noticed that the woman behind the channel, Down the Rabbit Hole at Bedtime, has thrown some shade at Katie Joy. Behold…
Now, it’s not lost on me that the woman on this channel is a competitor of Katie Joy’s. They put out somewhat similar content. Katie Joy has been around longer and has, apparently, pissed off a lot more people. She is not particularly well liked, although she still has lots of subscribers and, apparently, makes good money on YouTube. Still, I sense that although Katie Joy might not always be the most ethical person on the Internet, she is pretty successful and, from what I can tell, is usually pretty truthful. So it makes sense that some people would snark on her– especially her competitors. On the other hand, if people really want to get rid of Katie Joy, maybe it would be more effective to just ignore her. I dunno…
I’m not criticizing the lady who runs Down the Rabbit Hole for snarking on KJ, by the way… I think the above video busting on Katie Joy is creative and pretty funny. But I’m not personally involved in any drama related to Katie Joy or the Duggar family. I am just a bystander, like everyone else. Maybe KJ really deserves the snark and shade thrown at her, but I’m not invested in this drama enough to know for sure. I didn’t think the first above video by Katie Joy, which I assume is what the Down the Rabbit Hole lady is alluding to, was that outrageous. KJ didn’t really seem that bitter about not being on the Amazon docuseries to me (especially since it was evidently unpaid)… but then, maybe I missed something.
My own YouTube channel consists of about 90 percent me on video, singing songs. It has nothing to do with most of what I blog about. In fact, I think I’ll make a couple of music videos today, since I finally finished moving my music collection! I’ve mentioned it before, but I have no desire to be a YouTube “personality”. I’ve noticed several popular content creators being called out by competitors. Katie Joy is one, but so is Illuminaughti (Corporate Casket), and even Jessica Kent, who makes videos about her experiences in prison, is getting slammed. Maybe these ladies genuinely deserve some of the criticism, but it seems just as likely to me that once someone gets “big” enough, they get attacked by people who want them brought down a peg or two.
Count me among those who is simply amused by the related YouTube dramas to the Duggar dramas. I guess I’m just nothing but a “looky lou”. That’s probably a good thing.
I have always loved reading and hearing true stories. When I was growing up, I also loved reading fiction. I think I lost my love for reading most fiction when I was an English major in college. It was further eradicated when I lived in Armenia and most of the only reading material available in English was of the trashy romance novel type. I was so desperate to read something in English that I read the bodice rippers, anyway. I found a lot of the romance novels kind of depressing, probably because I didn’t have a love life to speak of in those days.
Nowadays most of my reading is all about biographies, autobiographies, current events, and the like… I like documentaries, too. There are still a couple of fiction authors I enjoy, but I have so many non-fiction books that I stay pretty busy… especially since I tend to fall asleep pretty quickly when I read these days. I need to buy a chair for reading, because I usually try to read in bed and it’s not long before I’m dead to the world.
I think my tendency to fall asleep when I read has also led to me watching more YouTube videos. YouTube has caused me to discover other true stories… many of which would have never been told in days past. YouTube can also offer a new beginning to people who otherwise might not have ever had one.
Take, for instance, Jessica Kent. She’s a popular YouTuber who has a channel all about her experiences in prison. I discovered her via Mama Doctor Jones, an OB-GYN who makes really excellent videos about women’s health issues. Someone asked Dr. Jones to react to Jessica’s video about giving birth when she was incarcerated in an Arkansas prison. I was so impressed by Jessica’s heartbreaking story that I checked out her channel and subscribed. In the old days, Jessica might not have been able to carve out a successful career after being in prison. But now, she has a thriving channel with 992k subscribers. She creates original content that people find compelling. I assume that’s allowed her to live a more law abiding life.
I write that “I assume”, because I really don’t know. She did make a few videos recently indicating that she’d had some issues lately with her (apparently former) significant other. I don’t want to speculate too much on the details, except to state that I think it’s pretty hard to go straight after an experience like prison. Jessica has a lot of empathy for prisoners, which is totally understandable. She was one herself. But a lot of people who have been incarcerated were incarcerated for good reason.
While many prisoners are basically decent people, the truth is, the majority of them did something that put them behind bars. They don’t always learn their lessons when they’re behind bars, which can make consorting with them risky, even if they seemed to have turned over a new leaf. See my book review on Shannon Moroney’s book about her ex husband, sex offender Jason Staples, for more on that.
Christina Randall is also a popular prison v-logger. She has 1.38 million subscribers, and covers true crime topics as well as her own experiences being incarcerated in Florida. I don’t watch her channel as much, but it looks like lately, she’s been focusing on recent true crime cases in the media, rather than telling her own stories. I know she and Jessica Kent have also collaborated. Personally, I prefer hearing the true stories from the people themselves, which is why I don’t follow Christina’s channel. But obviously, she’s compelling, and she has a lot of dedicated followers. If that keeps her out of prison, I say “more power to her”.
Lately, I’ve been watching another channel, this time by a guy named “jumpsuitpablo”, who spent ten years in prison in South Carolina. He’s an up and coming YouTube talent, with 27.1k subscribers, at this writing. I find his content very compelling for a few reasons. First, I think he has a really nice speaking voice. It’s pleasant to listen to. He’s intelligent, and a good storyteller. Secondly, I lived in South Carolina for three years, so I’m interested in his experiences doing time in that state. And thirdly, he covers Alex Murdaugh. I don’t actually care that much about Murdaugh’s case, but that was what initially hooked me to jumpsuitpablo’s channel. I kept getting YouTube suggestions for the channel, based on Murdaugh’s case.
Alex Murdaugh’s case is a reminder that the mighty can fall pretty rapidly. Murdaugh was once a very successful attorney living the high life in South Carolina. Now, he’s a convict, being evaluated before he gets shuffled off to do his time. It so happens that jumpsuitpablo has actual experience being incarcerated in the same prison where Murdaugh is, and he knows people who are still there. So that gives him access to some very interesting content. But jumpsuitpablo also shares his own stories from his days as a prisoner. It’s fascinating stuff.
I guess in the old days, before we had YouTube, these folks might have written books about their experiences. But it takes a lot of time to write a book, and back before the Internet, it wasn’t so easy to get published… even if you self-published. Nowadays, anyone can write a book, or become a video star, or even a music star. I know some people lament this form of progress, because it makes it harder for people who do things the “old-fashioned” way. But frankly, I’m glad to see people who were once incarcerated making money in a legal way. I also think their experiences matter, and they have stories that ought to be told, and HEARD, by regular folks.
Like many people, I used to assume that the incarcerated were all dangerous, bad people who deserved what they were getting and more. That was an opinion based in ignorance, and perhaps on what I had seen and heard on television or read in books. YouTube videos that star actual convicts put human faces on the prison experience. No, I don’t condone what prisoners have done to get locked up, but I also realize that there but by the grace of God go I. It’s very easy to get arrested and/or locked up in the United States. All you have to do to realize that is to watch one of the many cop videos on YouTube.
When I watch the cop videos, I tend to vacillate between feeling sorry for the police (because the public can be incredibly disrespectful), to feeling really sorry for the arrestees (because cops can also be incredibly disrespectful). I often yell at the cops, too, because a lot of them genuinely appear to be on power trips and blatantly deny people their civil rights. On the other hand, a lot of people are total assholes and have no respect for the law, or other people’s safety or property. I probably shouldn’t watch as many videos as I do, for the sake of my blood pressure… but they are so compelling! And I have a pretty boring lifestyle, so I tune in and enhance my knowledge of true crime. 😉
I definitely don’t think I could stand to go to prison, but obviously, I probably would adapt. It appears that most people do. Some people adapt better than others do. Some people even become institutionalized, and can’t function outside of prison. We’ll never see any videos from those people.
I’ve seen other prison v-loggers, too, but to me, their content isn’t as interesting or professionally done. Which just goes to show you that it takes talent and skill to make good content. It’s too bad prison is what led some of these folks to their YouTube careers. Maybe under different circumstances, they would have been able to avoid those unfortunate experiences. Obviously, they survived, but there are lingering costs associated with going to prison. I sure wouldn’t do it to boost my own very modest and tiny YouTube channel (with 130 subscribers).
Anyway, if you find prison content interesting, I’d especially recommend watching jumpsuitpablo’s channel. His content is very interesting, and I’d like to see him stay out of prison. I also recommend Jessica Kent and Christina Randall, although I haven’t been keeping up with their channels as much lately. If anything, these folks remind me to stay on the straight and narrow path.
The featured photo is of Bill wearing a t-shirt that says in German, “Life is too short to drink shitty beer…” If only that was our biggest problem!
Last night, I had a rather strained chat with Bill. I was feeling kind of fed up and put out, as he told me when his next week long business trip is planned. After twenty years of this, you’d think I’d be used to hanging out alone in big houses. But, to be honest, the older I get, the harder it seems to be for me. I think Arran’s cancer and COVID-19 have made me more eager to get out and do things. I used to be quite content to do things by myself. Not anymore.
Lately, I’ve been thinking that maybe I should take some solo trips. I hate the idea of wasting all this time in Europe, sitting at home with my proverbial thumb up my ass, waiting until we can do stuff together. Sometimes, it really feels like life is passing me by. I was trying to have this conversation with Bill. I could tell he was conflicted. He says he’d worry about my “safety”. Never mind that for thirty years, I pretty much did most things on my own. My own parents didn’t worry very much about my safety.
There was a time when this would be a non-issue. Twenty-one years ago, Bill put me on a plane to Jamaica so I could sing at my sister’s wedding. I got around just fine on my own, and came back safe and sound. But, since we became an official couple, it’s been a rare thing for me to do stuff alone. I know I’m capable and have the time, and we have the money. Maybe he’d like it more if I traveled with a friend, but I don’t have any local friends I want to travel with. The older I get, the more set in my ways I am.
So, we ended the chat without resolving anything. As I was about to fall asleep, I noticed a former co-worker had shared disturbing news out of South Carolina. I looked at the familiar photo of the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, where I had once jogged regularly. Twenty-one representatives have sponsored a bill in South Carolina that would classify abortion as murder and make anyone who has an abortion eligible for the death penalty.
For the life of me, I can’t understand why people who are supposedly “pro-life” would want to execute other people for having abortions. It’s absolutely batshit nuts to me. Even more crazy is the fact that this bill was authored by Rep. Rob Harris, who is a fucking registered NURSE!!!!! Mr. Harris is also a member of the so-called “Freedom Caucus”– freedom for whom? Probably white, Southern, Protestant Christian, men who aren’t poor.
According to Rolling Stone:
The “South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act of 2023” would amend the state’s code of laws, redefining “person” to include a fertilized egg at the point of conception, affording that zygote “equal protection under the homicide laws of the state” — up to and including the ultimate punishment: death.
I went to graduate school at the University of South Carolina. I earned master’s degrees in public health and social work at that university, and worked for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control as a graduate assistant, both in healthcare policy and maternal and child health, and for the Bureau of Epidemiology. Twenty-two years ago, I didn’t get the impression that politics in South Carolina were that batshit crazy. I mean, yes, in the first job I had as a G.A., it was my job to track healthcare legislation.
I remember the controversies being about abstinence education, kangaroo meat (as in it was illegal), and chelation therapy. South Carolina had a big problem with teen pregnancy, as well as child abuse. One of my internships was working with Healthy Families South Carolina, part of Prevent Child Abuse. Because there were a lot of young people having babies they weren’t ready for, there was a big problem with child abuse, and other social ills.
And yet, this idiot Republican Representative Harris wants to put women to death for exercising dominion over their own bodies! It defies logic! And do we really need to imprison more Americans? Will that help them be able to stand on their own feet and pay their own bills in the long run? Will it be helpful for their children? And the answer, of course, is a resounding “NO”!
I don’t think Mr. Harris has a fucking clue about his constituents and what they face, his nursing degree notwithstanding. Not to mention the fact that making people who have abortions eligible for the death penalty will cost a lot of taxpayer money and back up the court system. We don’t even put disgusting child predators like Josh Duggar and Jared Fogle to death for their crimes, but Harris wants to execute women who might want an abortion because of rape or incest or some other, totally private reason? What a sick, misogynistic bastard he is! How in the hell did he go into nursing? ETA: I see that Mr. Harris has just an Associate’s degree. Well, that explains a lot.
I pondered those thoughts as I drifted off to sleep for a couple of hours. Then, this morning, I woke up and watched a video by Jessica Kent, who has a very popular YouTube channel. Jessica Kent famously had a baby while she was incarcerated in an Arkansas prison. She now makes a living producing videos on YouTube, Tik Tok, and the like about her experiences as a prisoner.
This morning, I listened to Jessica talk about a new idea that was proposed within a recent bill in Massachusetts. Lawmakers there have evidently determined that one way to deal with the shortage of donated organs, bone marrow, and human tissues is to offer prison inmates the opportunity to donate theirs in exchange for time off their prison sentences.
On the surface, maybe this seems like a good idea… until you realize that people in prison are already exploited and basically enslaved. And some of those people are also innocent. Should we really be encouraging/coercing them to be living organ donors? Especially since they may not have the best environments for recovering from donating?
Besides the potential health risks and ethical dilemmas of such an idea, there’s also a side that I didn’t hear Jessica talk so much about. She says most people in prison aren’t absolutely terrible humans… but there are incarcerated people who are, in fact, very dangerous and belong behind bars. Is it really a good idea to make such a person the reason why another person lives? Can you just imagine what might happen in such a situation? A very manipulative person with no scruples gives up an organ for someone, and then, once they are released, proceeds to find them and manipulate, threaten, and harass them for personal gain. I can see it.
But I think it’s more likely that the opposite will more frequently happen. Someone who is desperate to get out of prison will donate just so they can get out and go home. And there may be significant repercussions for making that decision. I don’t have a problem with allowing inmates to donate organs if it’s their idea, and it’s something they sincerely want to do for humanitarian reasons. Politicians offering a carrot on a stick to them to fix organ shortages and overcrowded prison conditions is something else altogether, and decidedly not right, in my opinion. I think that idea could potentially lead to disaster.
Besides… it appears that the time off the sentence isn’t enough to warrant the donation. There would be no financial incentive, of course, since that’s illegal. And the time off would be at least 60 days, but no more than a year. I think someone’s kidney or part of their liver is worth much more than that. Especially when we consider that, in the future, the people who donate may be very sorry they did so. What happens if the person’s other kidney, for instance, fails or is injured in an accident? What if they get shot or stabbed in the healthy kidney? It’s America, folks. That could really happen.
Then… after I watched Jessica’s video, I realized that my problems are pretty small and not very earth shattering. Yes, I hate sitting here alone for weeks on end, but at least I don’t have to worry about needing an abortion in South Carolina. And I am not, nor are any of my loved ones or friends, sitting in a prison cell anywhere… Even in liberal Massachusetts, prisoners are treated as less than human. And, even though my dog has cancer, and I watch him nervously every day to see if he’s suffering, at this point, he’s still happy to be with us. I don’t have any matters of life or death facing me, at this point in time. Bill will be home tomorrow, too.
So… I guess I’ll end this rant and get on with the day. Practicing guitar is less disturbing than reading the news is.
You know how some people in certain states think that developing fetuses should have all of the rights to personhood that already born people get? I’ve noticed that some people have been doing their best to get over, based on that line of thinking. Personally, I have no qualms with it, since it offends me that some people value the unborn over the already born.
When this situation first occurred, Bottone reportedly wasn’t trying to make a political statement. But then the question of what constitutes actual personhood really did make her wonder. When Roe v. Wade was overturned and Texas adopted very strict laws against abortion, some unintended consequences arose. One of them has to do with crime and punishment. Whether it’s a woman trying to get out of a moving violation citation, or a woman who has been accused of murder trying to get out of jail, denying pregnant people the right to bodily autonomy and acting like a developing fetus has rights means that there will be some new wrinkles in the laws.
Last night, I read another story addressing this phenomenon, when I stumbled across a Huffington Post article about Natalia Harrell, a pregnant woman in Florida who has been jailed since last July. Attorney William Norris filed an emergency petition last week on behalf of his client, Ms. Harrell’s fetus, currently at eight months gestation. Mr. Norris claims the Miami-Dade Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has not provided Ms. Harrell with adequate prenatal care.
Mr. Norris told NBC Miami:
“An unborn child is a person. A person has constitutional rights and one of them is the right not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law.”
“I am asserting the right of someone who is a person who has not been considered in the decision to incarcerate his mother.”
According to the Huff Post article I read, Ms. Harrell has not seen an OB-GYN since October. Norris asserts that the corrections department has not provided sufficient prenatal vitamins or nutritious food. Ms. Harrell has not been taken to scheduled doctor’s appointments, and at one point, the pregnant woman was forced to sit in a 100-degree transport van that lacked air conditioning. Norris filed the petition when he was contacted by the baby’s father, who was concerned about his unborn child’s well-being.
Ms. Harrell has been incarcerated without bond since last summer. She’s accused of “fatally shooting fellow Uber passenger Gladys Yvette Borcela amid an argument after a night out in Miami.” Harrell’s trial is set to begin in April; she has pleaded not guilty.
It should come as no surprise that Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has argued for the petition’s dismissal on the grounds that there is no evidence that Ms. Harrell has been mistreated. Officials at the jail have also “disputed the allegations about its care for the inmate, saying in a statement that it’s ‘committed to ensuring all inmates receive professional, timely medical care and all appropriate treatment.'”
However, Mr. Norris reminds us that Ms. Harrell has not yet been convicted of a crime; she has only been accused. He also adds, “she has a stand-your-ground immunity defense that her criminal attorney is going to assert. So her conviction is by no means certain.”
I am not familiar with the incident that put Ms. Harrell behind bars, however, I do think that if states are going to declare the unborn as persons with personhood, Norris’s petition ought to be examined. I know that on the surface of this case, some people will laugh. They want to grant rights to the unborn, as long as it suits their highly controlling and anti-woman agenda. But both the ticket situation and the more serious murder accusation highlight the unintended consequences that have come up since abortion has been pretty much outlawed in some places. An astute attorney is going to challenge the new laws, and rightfully so.
A few years ago, I blogged about Marshae Jones, a pregnant woman who was jailed because she got in a fight that resulted in her being shot in the stomach. Her baby did not survive. Police reasoned that since the woman hadn’t kept herself out of harm’s way, she was responsible for the unborn fetus’s death. The woman who actually did the shooting, Ebony Jemison, was not indicted; therefore, she remained free, while Jones was jailed and later released on a $50,000 bond. The charges against Jones were eventually dropped, but still, it’s pretty scary how easy it is for pregnant people to wind up incarcerated. And there have been other disturbing cases of women who have been incarcerated because of miscarriage after they’d allegedly done something that put the unborn fetus at risk.
So… what concerns me about Ms. Harrell’s case is that besides the murder charge, she might also be charged with endangering the welfare of a minor, child abuse, or something of that nature. Judging by the comments by MEN on the Facebook post about this story, I can see that a lot of MEN think that Ms. Harrell shouldn’t have any rights because she’s an irresponsible woman who put her unborn baby in danger. But if she’s been jailed since last July, that means she might not have even realized that she was pregnant! Moreover– I must reiterate– she has not yet been convicted. She has only been accused.
I think it’s unsettling to see how gleeful some people are to see others put behind bars. There are so many Americans who seem to rejoice in watching certain people lose their liberties. Personally, I don’t like to think of people rotting in prison, especially when they’re pregnant. Jails and prisons are not good places for anyone to be– especially those who are gestating a baby.
Jessica Kent, a popular YouTube v-logger, has heartbreakingly spelled out what it was like for her to be pregnant when she was in an Arkansas prison. She didn’t know she was pregnant when she got arrested. If you are interested in that subject, I highly recommend watching these two videos…
And again… lots of pro-life MEN, who seem to be very misogynistic and lacking in understanding about why a woman might want or need to have an abortion, are commenting on Ms. Harrell’s story. They’re fine with declaring the unborn a “person with rights” when it comes to putting pregnant women behind bars, but they don’t like to see the same logic used to get women out of legal trouble or released from incarceration. And I’d wager that the VAST MAJORITY of them want and expect the right to privacy when it comes to making their own medical decisions, right?
One particularly prolific Facebook commenter– a man named Nicholas– clearly thinks that late term abortions are very commonly done on a whim. That simply isn’t true; late term abortions are actually very rare. There aren’t very many doctors who will do late term abortions, and the ones who will do them are typically doing them in situations involving tragic medical complications that are no one else’s business. They are very expensive and traumatic, and they involve actually giving birth. So no, they aren’t done for “convenience”.
Moreover, if legislators want to grant rights to the unborn, then they should also make sure that pregnant people have all they need to give birth to healthy babies and be able to raise healthy children. That means access to nutritious food, competent medical care, and adequate rest and exercise for ALL pregnant people– including those who are behind bars. It sounds like Mr. Norris is arguing that his client, by virtue of still being in utero, is being denied his rights as a person– albeit an unborn one at eight months gestation. So yes, it’s good that someone is having a look at this dilemma.
While I don’t know the specifics of Ms. Harrell’s case or whether or not she’s guilty, and I do worry that this case could backfire, I also think that double standards are bullshit. If you want to incarcerate people for crimes against the unborn because they have personhood, you must also consider that the innocent unborn should not be incarcerated for crimes committed by their mothers. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this case.
I meant to write about today’s topic yesterday. It was inspired by a New York Times opinion piece I read the other day that pointed out some unintended consequences of our new post Roe v. Wade reality. But I got mired in a contentious Twitter conversation that led me astray and got me so pissed off that I donated money to the pro choice cause. Yesterday, I decided to write about that decision, instead of the new insight I gleaned from that very wise opinion piece, written by Tressie McMillam Cottom, a Black woman who is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science, the author of “Thick: And Other Essays” and a 2020 MacArthur fellow. The piece she wrote, titled “Citizens No More”, really drove home some of the ways life for women in the United States could change if we don’t nip this anti-abortion nonsense in the bud.
For a long time, I have been writing about the potential negative health consequences that could arise in the wake of making abortion illegal. What I hadn’t considered, though, is that criminalizing abortion will likely also affect women in the workplace. Tressie McMillam Cottom spelled it all out in her opinion piece. She writes:
I grew up choosing where and how I work because Roe v. Wade gave me many of the same basic rights of personhood as men, for example. Millions of women have, to different degrees, been able to do the same.
I agree. It was the same for me, my entire life. I was born months before abortion became available to all women in the United States. My whole existence, I’ve known that if I ever needed or wanted to have an abortion, I could get one. In fact, I grew up in southeastern Virginia, and I distinctly remember that Hillcrest Clinic, an abortion clinic that opened in Norfolk, Virginia the year after I was born, used to run radio ads on the station I listened to before school every day. I remember hearing the commercials about how a woman could access safe, compassionate care if she wanted to terminate a pregnancy. It was not a big deal to me, because I heard those ads all the time. I never thought twice about them.
Then came the 1990s, and I remember reading in the news that abortion clinics were being bombed and doctors who performed abortions were being targeted, harassed, and in at least a couple of instances, murdered. Dr. Barnett Slepian was one abortion provider who was executed in 1998 by a gun toting anti abortion zealot. Another was Kansas physician Dr. George Tiller, who was shot in both arms years before he was finally murdered in 2009. On December 31, 1994, 22 year old John Salvi came into Hillcrest Clinic and opened fire, shattering the doors, but not injuring or killing anyone. The day prior, Salvi had stormed into two abortion clinics in Massachusetts and opened fire, killing two receptionists and wounding multiple clinic employees and volunteers. In many of the violent cases involving abortion providers being assassinated, pro-life zealots justified the killings, claiming they were “saving the unborn babies”. It seems ridiculous to me that highly trained physicians who simply wanted to help women were killed by people claiming to be “pro-life”. But life in the United States is often kind of confusing and odd, isn’t it?
I was a young woman in the 90s. Fortunately, I was not sexually active at the time, and I never had any gynecological issues, so I never needed to consider taking birth control, let alone having an abortion. But I knew that if I ever did need abortion services, and I was still living in Virginia, I could go to the Hillcrest Clinic in Norfolk.
The years went on, and lawmakers did more and more to restrict abortion access and discourage women from ending their pregnancies. They passed new laws, forcing clinics to upgrade their facilities to the point at which they were almost like hospitals. Hillcrest Clinic finally got to a point at which they could no longer operate. Ironically, it was because fewer women needed or wanted to have abortions, probably because they were getting educated about sex and had access to effective contraception. Hillcrest Clinic closed its doors in 2012, after serving the community for about 40 years.
Along came 2002. I finished graduate school and got married. Getting pregnant at a bad time was never an issue for me. But the same could not be said for my peers. I do know some women who did seek abortion care, and none of them have regretted their decision. I know they are living productive lives now, with families they formed when they were ready to be parents.
Now, with this new reality of conservatives trying desperately to force women to give birth, those choices are in jeopardy, even for women who never get pregnant. Tressie McMillam Cottom explains:
With Roe v. Wade toppled, we do not have the same rights in all labor markets. In a global market, an empowered worker is one who can migrate. With Dobbs, women cannot assume that we can safely work in Idaho the same way that we can in Oregon or Washington. I cannot negotiate wages or time off with an employer with the same risk profile as those who cannot become pregnant. An employer who offers lower pay in a state with abortion care indirectly benefits from women’s inability to take our labor on the open market across the nation. Thanks to a rogue court, women’s lives are now more determined by the accidents of our birth than they were a week ago.
Those accidents of birth include circumscribing women’s lives by making them dependent upon corporate beneficence. Some companies, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, immediately issued statements that they would offer reimbursements to employees for traveling for abortion services. The largess of Dick’s and other companies is noteworthy. But it requires women to disclose their health status to a boss they have to hope is well meaning. That says nothing of also hoping that corporate management or leadership does not change. Well-meaning employers can come and go. They also vary in how well meaning they are in terms of pledges of their employee support.
Those two paragraphs made me stop in my tracks. All along, I’d been focusing on health and happiness. It never occurred to me to consider how not being able to access abortion could affect women in the workplace, even in states where abortion access is guaranteed (for now). I also hadn’t considered that the companies who offer women help in getting abortions would also be requiring those women to discuss their private healthcare decisions with their employers. And, as the article also points out, some companies, such as Starbucks, have placed conditions on their offers of assistance. From the article:
[Starbucks noted that] it cannot guarantee that benefit to workers in unionized stores. Union drives at Starbucks have increased worker power. Many of those workers are women and people who can become pregnant. Potentially attaching support for abortion care to non-unionized labor is a perfect example of why corporations should not be arbiters of human rights.
So basically, people who can get pregnant will have to decide what’s more important to them– access to abortion services, or worker’s rights.
I noticed in the comment section that most people were arguing about the morality of abortions. It seemed that very few had bothered to read Tressie McMillam Cottom’s opinion piece, which I thought was very sobering and kind of scary. I decided to leave a comment that people really should read her piece. If you click the link in this post, you should have free access to the link, as I am a New York Times subscriber and allowed to gift ten articles per month. If you are a person of childbearing age and can get pregnant, you might want to consider what is at stake. It will affect all women who work, unless it’s obvious that you’re beyond childbearing. Then, you’ll just experience age discrimination. 😉
I want to also bring up another alarming news article I read yesterday that complements Tressie McMillam Cottom’s piece. According to the Washington Post, some Republican lawmakers are trying to draft legislation that could block pregnant people from crossing state lines. Again, I’m gifting the link to this article, since I am also a Washington Post subscriber. From the article:
The National Association of Christian Lawmakers, an anti abortion organization led by Republican state legislators, has begun working with the authors of the Texas abortion ban to explore model legislation that would restrict people from crossing state lines for abortions, said Texas state representative Tom Oliverson (R), the charter chair of the group’s national legislative council.
“Just because you jump across a state line doesn’t mean your home state doesn’t have jurisdiction,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel for the Thomas More Society. “It’s not a free abortion card when you drive across the state line.” (Figures it’s a MAN who said this. I hope he goes straight to Hell.)
I read about this development yesterday, after having yet another fruitless discussion with two older pro-life people on Twitter– a man and a woman, both of whom were conservative, and both of whom clearly never really stopped and thought about what eliminating abortion will mean to women, and American society as a whole. The first person who took me on was an obviously conservative man, who basically said that people who get pregnant by accident should be forced to gestate. He was kind enough to allow abortion for rape and incest cases. For everyone else it was, “she made her bed and now she needs to lie in it.”
I noted that he seemed to think pregnancy should be a punishment. He disagreed, arguing that birth control can prevent pregnancies, and “personal responsibility” should trump a gestating person’s right to make healthcare decisions about their own body. I tweeted to him that I didn’t think he’d really thought very long or hard about the abortion issue at all. I could have come up with a laundry list of my concerns, to include healthcare privacy and the fact that women in many states will have to prove their need for certain obstetrical procedures. Instead, I wrote that it doesn’t seem wise to me to force people to be pregnant when they don’t want to be, because it could mean that they won’t take care of their prenatal health. And fetuses would be developing in someone who might be very depressed and unwilling to seek medical care. That could then lead to babies being born with medical conditions that might have been prevented if the pregnant person had simply been more “responsible”.
I won’t even go into the huge list of reasons why this mindset isn’t fair to women. Men seem to forget that their health is never affected by pregnancy. It’s just their livelihoods that are potentially affected. What I was really thinking of, though, is that pregnant folks might soon find themselves in a different class of people, with fewer civil rights. This guy on Twitter was insisting that he didn’t think pregnancy should be a punishment, as he was also clearly pointing out that people should be forced to gestate. And, I’ll bet if I pressed him, asking him what he thought should happen to pregnant women who don’t seek appropriate medical care (which, of course, they would have to pay for), he would say the women should go to jail. Sounds pretty punishing to me. Now, granted, he didn’t actually say that during our discussion– which went on for much too long– but I’ll bet money that he would get there. Americans seem to LOVE to see people go to prison.
This isn’t an empty threat. I looked up forced prenatal care yesterday. It has happened. The link leads to one case from 2000, but there are others, and that Washington Post link I provided is about how some extremists would like to make it illegal for pregnant people to cross state lines. That sounds very punitive to me, and it would likely discourage people from seeking medical care. Another unintended consequence is that there will be some women who will stop having sex with people– particularly men– who can get them pregnant. I’ve already seen at least one Reddit thread from a man who is upset that his girlfriend is on a sex strike because of the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
In an earlier blog post, I shared Jessica Kent’s very distressing video about her experience giving birth while she was incarcerated in Arkansas. If we don’t do something about these wackos who are trying to criminalize abortion, there will be more women who experience the hell of being pregnant behind bars. It won’t be good for women OR those precious babies. And, things are already getting shitty in Texas. Yesterday, I watched this woman’s heartbreaking video about the horrible trauma she experienced, trying to take care of her miscarriage in Texas last year.
The other person who engaged me yesterday was an older woman who had many of the same arguments the man did. She was very condescending to me, and kept preaching about personal responsibility. I didn’t tell her that I was SUPER responsible when I was younger. I was a virgin until two weeks after my wedding day, and was 30 years old when I finally had sex for the first time… with a man who’d had a vasectomy. I also didn’t tell her about my background.
But toward the end of our chat, she wrote that she has a four year old granddaughter who was conceived accidentally. Her granddaughter is the light of her life. And you know, that’s really lovely. I’m happy for her. I wrote that I hoped her granddaughter never needed to have an abortion, which is sometimes necessary for health reasons. And I hoped that her granddaughter wouldn’t lose some of her healthcare privacy rights, due to her sex. The woman wrote back that my concerns about healthcare privacy were “ridiculous”. All I can do is shake my head… as Randy Newman sings, “I’m dead, but I don’t know it…” I think that observation would apply to this woman’s brain.
But instead of sharing the link to Randy Newman’s song, I wrote that my concerns about privacy are NOT ridiculous, and a lot of us are very concerned about it, and with good reason. Then I bid her a good night, because I was tired of tweeting in circles and felt my time would be more productively spent cleaning the lint out of my belly button or something.
Well… I could go on. I am kind of rueing exploring Twitter, because now I get exposed to some real twits besides Bill’s ex wife. But at least it gives me another source for my blog, right? And since I mentioned Ex… here are a couple of her most recent comments. I could start a blog that focuses on the inanity of Ex’s Twitter feed. For your amusement…
My daughter is 19, a HUGE fan of yours(read your book), along with TMNT; she wants to be a voice actress more that ANYTHING! Rob, how can I encourage her? I can’t afford acting school in NY, though she was accepted! Please, any advice for a mom who just wants to support a dream?!
Omg … my eyes…. My ears… make it stop! It’s like reliving the day I sang “If” by Bread in 1981 at a school talent show with, literally, the sweetest and kindest guy in the world! Except, alas, it was never to be… still love him with all my heart!!
She once sang “The Sweetest Thing” by Juice Newton to Bill. To this day, he can’t abide that song.
So ends today’s rantings. Hope it provides food for thought.
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