Tag Archives: Oppression

The Plight of Mississippi’s Lone Abortion Provider

8 Feb

Since April of last year, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization has been struggling to stay open. Jackson is the last abortion provider in Mississippi, a state that leads the country in teen birth rates.

In April, Governor Phil Bryant (R) signed in anew law, which states that any doctor performing an abortion in the state is required to have hospital admitting privileges. The clinic has since applied for admitting privileges with seven local hospitals, and been rejected from each and every one. In accordance with state law, healthcare facilities are allowed to refuse medical service on religious grounds.



The hospitals reportedly rejected requests by these physicians to receive admitting privileges because their medical practice “is inconsistent with this Hospital’s policies and practices as concerns abortion and, in particular, elective abortions” and that admitting them “would lead to both an internal and external disruption of the Hospital’s function and business within this community.”

The clinic, which in 2011 served close to 2,000 patients, the majority of which being low-income and teenage women, received a notice stating that the state health department will revoke its operating license. To put that in perspective, Mississippi had a poverty rate of 22.6 in 2011, and many of these low-income women will have to go to a clinic three hours away over the state line, if the Jackson clinic is forced closed. In addition to transportation costs, childcare, and time-off work, women would have to put up money for hotels to adhere to mandatory 72-hour waiting periods in neighboring states as well as find the money for the $450 procedure itself. This would put an undue burden on these women, effectively making it impossible for them to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

According to Michelle Movahed, the staff attorney for the center, “This unconstitutional law has essentially handed over the fate of Mississippi women’s reproductive health care to hospital administrators.”

In 1981 there were 14 abortion clinics in the state of Mississippi, now the only two physicians providing abortions fly into the state to its only remaining clinic. Systematically closing down the state’s abortion care providers isn’t the only way the state has limited a woman’s ability to choose in Mississippi however.  Due to several prohibitive measures that have been passed in recent years, Mississippi now has the lowest abortion rate in the country at 5%, compared to 19% nationally. In Mississippi abortion clinics, unlike other medical offices, are required to adhere to the same building codes as hospitals. Minors in the state need the consent of both parents before receiving an abortion, and abortions are only legal in clinics up to 16 weeks. Additionally, sonograms must be performed and the patient must be given the opportunity to see the image and listen to the fetal heartbeat. Also all women seeking an abortion in the state must receive counseling from a doctor and then wait 24-hours before the procedure.

And as if all of this weren’t enough, Republican Senator Angela Burks Hill recently sponsored Senate Bill 2795, a bill which would attempt to limit the availability of medications such as mifepristone and misoprostol which induce abortions. The bill would make it illegal for a woman to take the pills seven pills after their last menstruation, despite the fact that most doctors currently prescribe it up to nine weeks. To add insult to injury, the bill will also require a woman to return to her doctor’s office to take the misoprostol instead of her previous option of taking it at home. This would result in four required visits for a woman seeking to end a pregnancy via medication, a requirement that may not be financially feasible for all of Mississippi’s women. On February 5th the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee approved the measure, which will go to the full senate for more debate. 

Mississippi’s attack on women and on reproductive rights is truly atrocious. Despite being legal in the United States, these proposed measure are essentially making abortion impossible for the low-income women that live there. These measures also unjustly affect low-income women, who will likely be unable to afford trips out of state. Essentially forcing these women to give birth to unwanted children that they may not have the means to support perpetuates a cycle of poverty that can be almost impossible to escape.

Access to birth control and abortion are two of the greatest tools that women have in their arsenal to achieve the same economic freedom as their male counterparts. When women are unable to control when and where they want to start a family, under what circumstances, they are essentially stripped of their abilities to succeed in a job market where they are in constant competition with men who do not face the same challenges. Abortion rights are a women’s issue, they are also a class issue, and a race issue. It’s about the power to choose. When Mississippi, a state with the highest teen pregnancy rate and one of the highest poverty rates, chooses to deny women this fundamental control over their future economic prospects, they are holding women back and keeping them in a state of oppression.

What happens to Mississippi’s last abortion clinic is important for us all. It is a warning, of what could happen if we don’t fight to protect the rights of women everywhere.


28 Common Racist Attitudes and Behaviors

29 Jan racism

28 Common Racist Attitudes and Behaviors

This might make you uncomfortable, it should, but it is really well thought out and entirely worth the read. It really addresses white privilege in a way that is coherent and easy to digest.

Make Me Up

3 Jan

So I was perusing Slate magazine this afternoon, and they did a piece on makeup and whether or not it was degrading or empowering to women. Actually, they did a piece in response to a recent New York Times Room for Debate bit on the same issue.



Slate criticized NYT’s for not really landing hard on either side of the issue. Actually, they basically stated that this is a non-issue, which is why no one could land on a side. They also criticized the bit for getting opinions from men, as if men have any insight into how it feels to be a women in today’s society. I agree here.


I do however disagree with the idea that this is a non-issue. Anyone who’s read Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth knows just how much of an issue this is. The struggle to fit a standardized beauty image keeps women down emotionally, psychologically, and financially as we continue to strive for some out of reach ideal. The problem is that it is an issue so deeply ingrained in our society that it is difficult, if not impossible to come up with a solution.

I myself have recently started steering away from using makeup. But not everyday, I have my days where I wear it too. I get a zit- I cover it up. My skin looks a little dry, pasty, etc., I cover it up. Sometimes I just want to mix things up, I throw on a little eyeliner, a little mascara, hell maybe even some eye shadow. There is nothing inherently wrong or degrading about any of this.

It does suck however, when as a women you feel like you HAVE to put on makeup before you leave the house. Not because you lack self-esteem, or think you aren’t pretty (not that this doesn’t happen as well) but because for whatever reason the society that you are apart of makes you feel like you have to, that if you don’t you are somehow less of a woman.

I think the peak of my makeup wearing days were my first two years of college. I didn’t wear it at all in high school, and I don’t wear it much now. But those first two years I was dying to fit it. I joined a sorority my sophomore year because I wanted to make new friends. This was when I really felt the pressure to wear makeup. We had to, and we had to do it right. I remember showing up to an event with a bit of eyeliner and some blush on, and one of the girls in charge came by and FIXED my makeup. She added more blush, more eyeliner, and some mascara. I thought I looked like a clown, but I kept it because she said it looked better.

This wasn’t what caused me to leave the sorority, there were many other factors, but this was a contributing one. And to me this is an example of one of the kinds of communities that pressures women into feeling inadequate if they aren’t ultra-feminine. I have no problem with ultra-feminine women. I think it can be empowering in its own right, but I am not one of them. And I think those differences should be admired and celebrated, rather than marginalized to the point of shame.

My point is, I think makeup can be empowering. Not just for women, for men too. If a guy wants to put on some eyeliner to feel a little extra sexy one day he should be able to. That doesn’t mean he is. And I think that’s partly where this idea that makeup is degrading comes from. If its only a female thing, how can it not be a form of oppression? I think it can be a tool of empowerment, and a tool of oppression depending on who wields it.

If a waitress feels like she has to wear makeup to make decent tips, while her male cohorts go without, that is a form of oppression. But it doesn’t have to be. I can’t really offer a solution here, except to say that if more communities celebrated all kinds of women, then the women who chose to wear makeup would feel more empowered and less like they were conforming to societal norms.

I’d love to hear any thoughts on this.


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