Democrats put forward a plan to protect birth control
A new bill from Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Ayanna Pressley would require to insurers to fully cover over-the-counter contraception in case the GOP isn't satisfied with overturning Roe v. Wade.
Even though it feels like five years, it’s only been five weeks since a draft of a Supreme Court opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade leaked. The Senate immediately took up a doomed bill that would codify the right to abortion care and in the time since, congressional Democrats have been at work looking at legislative alternatives that are a bit more focused than the sweeping measures activists and voters are pining for.
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts on Tuesday, the anniversary of 1965 Supreme Court ruling that the purchase and use of contraceptives is protected under the US Constitution, introduced the Affordability is Access Act — a proposal that would safeguard and expand the availability of low-cost over-the-counter birth control so people across the country can plan their own reproductive lives on their own terms.
“No one should have to jump through ridiculous hoops or pay extra just to get the birth control they need — because birth control impacts women’s health, their bodily autonomy, their wallets and their economic security,” Sen. Murray said in a statement released after she and Pressley met with reporters on Zoom to discuss the details of their proposal. “We know that women across America don’t want politicians making it harder to get birth control, they want to free the pill — and this bill will do just that, by ensuring women can get the birth control they need without a prescription or out-of-pocket costs.
More than 19 million women of reproductive age living in the US are in need of publicly funded contraception and lack reasonable access in their county to a health center that offers the full range of contraceptive methods, according to research from Power to Decide, a campaign to prevent unplanned pregnancy and one of several groups to endorse Murray and Pressley’s bill. And more than one million of those women live in a county without a single health center offering the full range of contraceptive methods.
These birth control deserts, often populated by poor people, people of color, indigenous or disabled people and immigrants, force those in these communities to coordinate child care, take time off from work or travel long distances just to show up to an appointment. (These communities are the ones who are most likely to be adversely affected if the Supreme Court overturns Roe this month.)
The AAA would require the Food and Drug Administration to approve an OTC birth control option once the agency determines the contraceptive to be safe. It would also make sure insurance companies fully covered OTC birth control without any out-of-pocket costs or a prescription.
Since the Supreme Court draft opinion leaked, leading Democrats — from President Joe Biden to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer — have sounded the alarms that Republican lawmakers and the high court’s conservative supermajority will use it to strip away rights to same-sex marriage, fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization, and yes, birth control.
The few Republicans who have publicly spoken about the imminent overturning of Roe feign confusion as to why anyone would believe they won’t stop at criminalizing abortion care despite Missouri’s state legislature, for example, attempting last year to ban specific forms of birth control, including emergency contraceptives (aka the “Plan B” bill) and intrauterine devices (aka “IUDs”). And for what it’s worth, noting Justice Alito did specify in the draft that the ruling would exclude other rights courts related to privacy.
But Murray, Pressley and their colleagues aren’t taking any chances. Instead, they’re hard at work recruiting more cosponsors for their bill, whipping Senate votes where the legislation would face a fierce uphill climb and lobbying House leadership to put the proposal on the floor for a vote.
“With this far-right Supreme Court and anti-choice legislatures across the country stopping at nothing to attack our reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy, we must use every tool available to protect reproductive health care and affirm it as the fundamental human right that it is,” Pressley said. “Our work is to protect our reproductive freedom is far from over and we’re not backing down in this fight.”
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Anna Louie Sussman on egg freezing’s BMI problem:
Egg freezing today is sold as an empowering option for everyone. Fertility clinics and egg-freezing “studios” hammer this message home through social-media advertising aimed at under-40 women, promotional vans offering free fertility tests to passersby on the street, and wine-and-cheese informational nights held at clinics and egg-freezing studios across the country. But when it comes to women in larger bodies, some clinics draw the line, turning away patients over a certain body mass index, or BMI. Although there is no national data kept on this phenomenon, an estimated 11.7 percent of American women are considered severely obese, with a body mass index of 40 or higher.
The messaging is “that this is the responsible thing to do, the thing that they should be doing to preserve their fertility,” says Nicola Salmon, a U.K.-based fertility coach who specializes in working with larger patients. Salmon, whose job includes assuring her clients that they are worthy of care, engaging with clinicians and presenting them with research and evidence on caring for larger bodies, and screening clinics to ensure they’ll provide sensitive and individualized care, is currently working with an egg-freezing patient in Texas. Salmon’s client, like Michelle, is ready to begin the egg-freezing process. But, by Salmon’s estimates, they’ve reached out to at least eight or nine fertility clinics in the Texas area about their BMI guidelines, and none will work with them, typically citing BMI cutoffs of 40 (her client’s BMI is 42). “This has been a real blow to their body confidence, to how they feel in their body,” Salmon says, “because they feel that this option — this thing that should be available to everybody — has been taken away from them.”
Henry Grabar on the great pushback against progressive politicians:
Crime and homelessness are not, in fact, the same issue at all. They are not meaningfully correlated; they do not share causes; they do not share solutions. But in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, Democrats’ inability to address the homelessness crisis is going to cost them generational progress on criminal justice, as the forces for reforming the police go into retreat.
The elision between crime and homelessness is a clever trick for pro-cop politicians, but progressives brought the confusion upon themselves. Mayors like Eric Garcetti in Los Angeles and Bill de Blasio in New York used their power to make big but toothless proclamations on national progressive issues, while throwing their hands up at thorny local problems well within their means to solve, like building more shelter beds and getting homeless residents to use them.
Rebecca Traister on Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California:
Feinstein is now both the definition of the American political Establishment and the personification of the inroads women have made over the past 50 years. Her career, launched in a moment of optimism about what women leaders could do for this country, offers a study in what the Democratic Party’s has not been able to do. As Feinstein consolidated her power at the top of the Senate, the party’s losses steadily mounted. It has lost control of the Supreme Court; it is likely about to lose control of Congress. Children are being gunned down by the assault weapons Feinstein has fought to ban, while the Senate — a legislative body she reveres — can only stand by idly, ultimately complicit. States around the nation are banning books about racism as Black people are being shot and killed in supermarkets. Having gutted the Voting Rights Act, conservatives are leveraging every form of voter suppression they can, while the Senate cannot pass a bill to protect the franchise. The expected overturning of Roe v. Wade this summer will mark a profound step backward, a signal that other rights won during Feinstein’s adulthood, including marriage equality and full access to contraception, are just as vulnerable.
Lindsay Bryan-Podvin on personal finance advice:
So often in the personal finance world, consumers are told what to cut: lattes, dining out, vacations. But we all need joy, rest, small pleasures, and self-care — things that often involve spending money.
The bigger problem, though, is that making budgeting mistakes comes with shame. Lots of people say they have some kind of plan in place for budgeting, while others say they don’t bother because they are living paycheck to paycheck. The people who do want to budget may try out a plan from a personal finance expert, only to “fail” by overspending in a specific category.
Then a shame spiral kicks off. They think, “I’m so stupid for overspending. I can never stick to a budget.” This reminds them of all the other times they’ve made money missteps, such as forgetting to pay a bill on time or maxing out a credit card when they were younger. These memories serve as further “proof” in their minds that they are bad with money. This experience, coupled with their other negative experiences with money, can lead them to give up on budgeting altogether.
Ibram X. Kendi on his family’s doll test:
Imani loved when both of us picked her up. When we walked in, she tossed the white doll aside and ran to hug us. “Group hug!” Sadiqa shouted, widening her arms as I did the same. Imani buried her face between our legs. Sadiqa and I made eye contact.
Doll 4, Parents 1.
When Imani released her grip, I walked around the day care and found the large toy chests. I rummaged through the toys and did not come across a single doll that looked Asian, Native, Latino, Middle Eastern, or Black. Every single doll I saw looked white.
Anger overtook me. Not at the day care’s owner—at myself. Imani had been going here for several weeks, and not once did I examine the toy chests.
Imani did not choose to play with the white doll over dolls of color, I realized; she hadn’t had another option. After all these years, how many children still don’t have another option in their toy chests, libraries, or schools? What does the overrepresentation of white dolls tell children about who their caregivers think is important?
Channing Hargrove on rapper Doja Cat:
Because Doja Cat is a millennial, she is able to have a wider frame of reference to pull from, thanks to the internet. She’s exposed to so much more. “The evolution of style, especially for rappers, has changed dramatically because of the influence and the impact of a stylist who is really an image builder and creator,” said Elena Romero, a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. “Earlier hip-hop artists, for example, were dressing themselves. There were no music budgets, no major stylists being able to have access to designer and luxury brands. Rappers wore what was popular in their neighborhoods, influenced by people they idolized. We’ve seen a complete transformation of street style.”
Ideas of what a rapper is supposed to look like or perform like are antiquated notions, according to Romero. “Today, the lines are extremely blurred. It’s not so easy to be able to say, well, this is what a rap artist looks like,” she said. “Black female artists have been pigeonholed to have to fit into a box. … When you think about one of the more recent hip-hop artists to have moved in the pop genre, Nicki Minaj never gets the kind of credit she deserves for her wardrobe choices. So you see where the influences are coming from, it’s not hard to see, I just think she gets shortchanged because she’s a Black woman.”
Romero said people only understand what they can categorize. “Earlier hip-hop artists were wearing denim jeans and T-shirts, tracksuits and velour suits and that has completely evolved to wearing high-end couture fashion. So is that no longer hip-hop? No, of course it is. It’s how we wear it, it’s how we interpret the fashion that makes it our style.
Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media are Destroying America by Dan Pfeiffer ($28): Come for the amusing footnotes but stay for this former Obama administration official’s deep dive on how Democrats can stand up to the right’s corrosive media ecosystem.
Fohm Bathroom Kit (starting at $69): The makers of this bathroom kit are on a mission to replace flushable wipes with their touchless dispenser of cleaning foam for your toilet paper.
Good Fun “Give Yourself Grace” Premium Tee ($27): A gentle reminder in the form of a cheery-colored cotton-spun T-shirt.