The war on women has become a highly publicized portion of American politics. The most recent attacks came from Rush Limbaugh, when he called Georgetown student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” for arguing that contraception should be covered by employers and insurers.
The story became a media sensation because the country’s best-known shock jock managed to outdo himself and cross the line of what the most extreme right-wingers deem acceptable. It’s good to know that there are boundaries and even Republicans have their standards.
But the mainstream media is hush-hush when it comes to certain aspects of the war on women that are even more egregious. Aside from the anti-abortion legislation proposed in various states throughout the country, there are already parts of the U.S. where women are being prosecuted and criminalized for something as tragic as miscarrying their own babies.
I first heard about this assault on innocent women through an article written by The Guardian. It’s a little humiliating when the press in the U.K. does a better job covering U.S. news than our own media does. The headline reads, “Outcry in America as pregnant women who lose babies face murder charges.”
The outrageous story was factual, but the headline was not. There wasn’t an outcry in America at all. In fact, aside from a few blogs, The Alyona Show on RT, and “The Young Turks,” no other media outlet covered this hideous story. As a result, the vast majority of Americans don’t even know that this is happening.
When 15-year-old Rennie Gibbs from Mississippi delivered a stillborn in 2006, prosecutors in her state jumped at the chance to charge her “depraved-heart murder,” which carries a life sentence. Prosecutors argued that Gibbs had a history of cocaine abuse, and implied that it lead to the stillbirth. But there was absolutely no evidence suggesting that her prior drug abuse had led to her delivering a stillborn.
Alabama passed “chemical endangerment” laws in 2006, which were meant to protect children from parents who cook meth at home. However, the law was utilized against a woman named Amanda Kimbrough, who decided to have her baby even though doctors urged her to terminate the pregnancy because the fetus was diagnosed with Down syndrome. The baby died 19 minutes after she delivered via Caesarean section.
Kimbrough was arrested six months later and charged with “chemical endangerment” on the grounds that she had taken drugs during her pregnancy. She denies the accusations.
Finally, there is the case of Bei Bei Shuai from Indianapolis, who attempted suicide by drinking rat poison because her boyfriend left her. She was 33 weeks pregnant at the time, and although she survived, she gave birth prematurely one week later. Unfortunately, her baby did not make it. Instead of getting Shuai the mental help that she needed, she spent time in prison as a result of losing her baby.
While there is some coverage of what anti-abortion and anti-contraception legislation could do to women in the future, there is almost no coverage at all about what is already happening to vulnerable women in the U.S. Instead, we’re focusing on what clowns and shock jocks like Rush Limbaugh have to say about contraception funding.
It’s important to call people like Limbaugh out, but situations like this should be used as an opportunity to talk about the big picture, and some of the consequences that have already occurred due to right-ring extremists in this country.