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Texas says abortion not essential, church services are
Coronavirus is an unprecedented public health crisis. But, for some Republicans, it’s also a political opportunity: anti-abortion activists are ruthlessly using the pandemic as an excuse to crack down on reproductive rights. Six conservative states – Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas – have categorized abortions as non-essential, except in very limited cases, effectively banning access to the procedure during the pandemic.
Federal judges have stopped the bans from going into effect in most of these states. However, on Tuesday an appeals court ruled that Texas could reinstate its abortion ban. On the same day women were told that their reproductive rights were considered dispensable, Texas’s Governor Greg Abbott declared that religious services were “essential” and in-person gatherings could continue during the pandemic. This is despite the fact that there have been multiple cases of coronavirus spreading in places of worship, with people dying as a result.
Getting an abortion in Texas wasn’t exactly easy before Covid-19; the state has 21 clinics for 6 million women of reproductive age. But now desperate women are going to be forced to put themselves in danger by traveling long distances to get care in neighboring states. According to the Guttmacher Institute the Texas ban has increased one-way distances to an abortion clinic from 12 miles to 243 miles; that’s an increase of almost 2,000%. As is the case with all restrictions on abortion, the burden will fall disproportionately on low-income women without the resources to travel.
It is also likely that the Texas abortion ban will result in more women attempting dangerous DIY procedures. According to a recent study women in Texas are already three times more likely to try to end their pregnancy on their own than women in other states.
There is nothing pro-life about exploiting an emergency to further a political agenda. There’s nothing pro-life about forcing women to give birth during a pandemic. There’s nothing pro-life women having to put themselves in danger to get the help they need, and the services the constitution is supposed to protect. But, as has always been clear, anti-abortion fanatics don’t care about “life”, they care about control.
The Texas abortion ban is supposed to be temporary. But our civil liberties are most fragile during times of fear and crisis; rights that are lost are not easily won back. It’s not just our physical health that we need to worry about during this pandemic; it’s the health of our democracy. As is already apparent, a small minority of zealots will do everything they can to use this crisis to eradicate the right to an abortion in America.
Don’t nag your husband during the lockdown, ladies
The Malaysian government recently put out a series of online posters advising the country’s women not to nag their husbands during the coronavirus lockdown. Posters also urged women not to be “sarcastic” and to dress up and wear makeup. This advice did not go down very well and the government has now apologized.
Peru and Panama institute sex-based curfew to combat coronavirus spread
In Panama, women are allowed to leave home to buy necessities on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Men can go out on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Nobody can leave the house on Sunday. Similar sex-based measures are in place in Peru. It’s like a dystopic Craig David song.
It’s also a nightmare for trans people: police in Panama have already detained a transgender woman for being out on the wrong day.
31 March was International Day of Transgender Visibility
Idaho celebrated it by pushing through two anti-transgender bills. The state’s Republican governor approved discriminatory legislation that prohibits transgender people from changing the sex on their birth certificate and banned transgender girls and women from competing in female sports.
Australia offers free childcare during coronavirus crisis
The Australian government is promoting this plan as a way to keep childcare centers open during the crisis. While free childcare sounds brilliant, Eva Cox unpicks the problems with the program in the Guardian. “Rather than using the crisis as the means to reform the problematic high-fee structures and maldistribution of childcare services – let alone needed reforms to very low pay rates – good PR appears to be the aim.”
Pregnant women, listen up!
“File for the [US government] stimulus for your fetus,” a viral tweet this week advised. “You either get paid, or Republicans will have to admit a fetus isn’t a child.”
Gender reveal party causes large fire in Florida
‘During a crisis, a cocktail hour can be almost any hour’
Wise words from Ina Garten, who delighted the internet by posting an Instagram video (at 10am) of her making an enormous quarantine cocktail. Cheers everyone!
The week in potato-archy
Via the magic of filters, a woman accidentally turned herself into a potato during a work video meeting and couldn’t un-spud herself. “I was so confused as to why I was a potato,” she said. “Of all the things I could be, why a potato?”