Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A miscarriage of workplace justice...

I've recently gotten back into watching Netflix after a long hiatus.  German Netflix continues to improve to the point at which I can often find interesting documentaries and foreign films in English.  I've even started watching some Netflix produced films.  The other day, against my better judgment, I watched Reversing Roe, which is a Netflix production.

A trailer for Reversing Roe, which shows how abortion is slowly being stamped out by self-righteous and greedy politicians who are in bed with religious zealots.

It is a well-done film, even if watching it made my blood boil.  It's no secret that I'm very much for supporting a woman's right to have an abortion.  It pisses me off to listen to religious people, particularly lobbyists and politicians, pontificating about the "sanctity of life".  Many of these folks have aligned themselves with the Republican party, which preaches about family values, but does little in the way of promoting family friendly policies, particularly when it comes to workers.  And a lot of the women who choose to have an abortion are working women, some of whom are struggling simply to support themselves.

The other day, I read an article in the New York Times about women who miscarried while they were on the job.  These women wanted their babies, but had the misfortune of working in jobs that were physically taxing.  The article described the working conditions some of these women were faced with-- un-air conditioned warehouses in the South where they spent long shifts lifting and dragging heavy boxes full of gadgets.  In January 2014, then 23 year old Erica Hayes worked an eight hour shift at a warehouse operated by a contractor on behalf of Verizon.  At the end of her shift, Hayes went to the bathroom, where her jeans were soaked with blood.  She had been in her second trimester and she had miscarried while on the job.  Hayes had repeatedly begged her boss to let her do less physically strenuous work and her boss had refused her requests.

Hayes lost her baby, and she wasn't alone.  Three of her co-workers also miscarried while on the job.  They had all asked for lighter duty.  Three of the four women had even brought doctors' notes, which their supervisors ignored.  

According to the article, pregnancy discrimination in the U.S. workplace is rampant.  Some companies deny pregnant women promotions and raises.  Some companies find ways not to hire pregnant women.  Some fire pregnant women before they can take maternity leave.  And some force pregnant women to keep working physically taxing jobs that end up causing the women to miscarry.

I happened to read the New York Times article before I saw Reversing Roe.  I think having read about how some pregnant women are treated in American workplaces made my reaction to that documentary even more visceral.  I listened to smarmy conservative politicians preach about religion as they explain why they think they should have the right to force women to be pregnant.  And yet, I didn't hear many of them talk about how they would support women like Erica Hayes, who was probably not working at the Verizon warehouse because it was a lifelong career goal of hers.

Let's face it.  A lot of people are working in jobs simply because they must work to support themselves.  Although there might be people in the world whose dreams include working in a sweltering warehouse, my guess is most of those folks have other dreams they'd rather pursue.  They are working there simply for the money.  And making money is the main thing that drives supervisors to push pregnant women so hard that they miscarry.

I'm not saying there aren't money hungry Democrats out there.  I know there are liberals who are all about the almighty dollar.  But Democrats, by and large, seem to have more respect for working people.  They also seem more interested in making sure that people have access to affordable and available healthcare.  They are also a lot more interested in leaving decisions about whether or not to stay pregnant up to the women involved instead of politicians and religious leaders.

I shared the New York Times article on my Facebook page and got a comment from a friend who is extremely pro-life.  I had made this comment...

She responded with this comment:

Oh. 😢 Please don’t lump the two together. I am so adamantly pro-life. That is not limited to the unborn. It breaks my heart to think that someone would suffer like this woman. Those I know who support life also care for women who have had miscarriages, abortions, drug addiction, etc. there are those of us who truly love our fellow man/woman.

For the record, I do believe this friend when she writes that she loves her fellow man/woman.  My issue is with greedy politicians who spout off about how immoral abortion is, but have no qualms about allowing employers to act like slave drivers while denying affordable healthcare to American citizens.  What the hell is the point of saving the lives of unborn babies if there's no support for their mothers when their fetuses are in utero or for the newborn babies after they've been born?!  It really infuriates me, even if I'm soon going to be too old to be personally affected by pregnancy.  But, as my friend points out, it's not just about unborn babies.  Really, it's about everyone.  Every man, woman, or child in the United States needs access to affordable healthcare and humane working conditions that don't unduly put their health and safety at risk.

Anyway... I probably shouldn't watch documentaries about abortion, because every time I see some bearded dickhead in a suit preaching about the Bible and the sanctity of life, then saying and doing NOTHING to help poor women who can barely support themselves, let alone a baby, I want to throw things.  It's probably not good for my blood pressure.  The fact is, in the United States, we have a culture that is entirely about money, everything else be damned.

Many conservative politicians want to force women to stay pregnant, but they are not interested in providing any support for pregnant women or new mothers.  When the mother says she can't afford to have a baby, their solution is suggesting adoption, following a lecture about how she shouldn't have gotten pregnant if she couldn't support a child.  Meanwhile, these same folks also do their best to limit access to affordable contraception and sex education that isn't entirely about abstinence.  

Adoption may be a wonderful idea for some women, but I can't help but wonder how many women gave up their babies simply because they couldn't afford to take care of them?  How many women spent the rest of their lives anguishing about that decision, which may have been made entirely out of financial necessity?  And how many women, like Erica Hayes, kept working in physically taxing jobs while they were pregnant, simply because they had to in order to survive?  

I certainly don't cheer for abortions, but I think they must stay legal for so many reasons.  One of the main ones is that I think we simply have a shitty quality of life in the United States.  Maybe that's not everyone's opinion, but it's definitely my opinion.  So, aside from any medical or psychological reasons why an abortion might be "necessary", I also think that they should be allowed for financial reasons.  As Reversing Roe points out, the vast majority of abortions take place in the first trimester, anyway.  Those that take place later are usually due to medical issues in the mother or developing fetus.  

What's worse?  Allowing a woman to seek competent medical help to end a pregnancy in its early stages, or forcing a pregnant woman in her second trimester to work so hard that she miscarries?  Either way, the end result is a dead fetus, right?  Why is it so much worse for a woman to have an abortion than an employer to work a pregnant woman to the point at which her unborn baby dies?

We need more humane people in our government who truly support a woman's right to choose-- both the woman who wants to terminate her pregnancy, and the woman who wants to stay pregnant and have a healthy baby.  In a country that is as supposedly "great" as the United States allegedly is, this is an issue that should get a lot more attention than it does.          


  1. Restricting abortion is simply another way for religious and political leaders to control women. They don't care about people at all. Can't wait for the elections...Americans will have the chance to take out the trash.


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